As we continue testing our Human Experiment, we have found others who are embracing their own journeys and undertakings. Knowing that shared experiences are valuable experiences, we want to highlight their stories. Not only will we highlight them as guest bloggers here, but we'll also feature them on our new Facebook page. We encouradge you to follow, like, share and comment. And, as always, thank you for joining us — and now our friends — in our Human Experiment!
The following guest post is from Amy Midkiff, child of the desert, constant daydreamer and owner of DIY PAK.
You know how your parents always had “sayings” when you were a kid?
Little pearls of wisdom they’d repeat ad nauseaum as you’d roll your eyes straight out of your head? My dad’s was, “I invented dinosaurs.” My dad is a reeeeeal jokester.
My dad’s other saying, the one I took with me into adulthood, was “always be one of the good people.” That has been my North Star ever since. I got my degree in psychology because I wanted to help people, worked a few years in the field until the pair of crushingly low pay and crushingly high disappointment (in the system, not the patients) caused me to pack up my bags and swap the bold skies of the Arizona desert for the urban jungle of Washington D.C. to “make it,” whatever “it” was.
I had the great luck of choosing to move to D.C. in late 2008, so the last nine years have been a twisted, tangled, chaotic search for discovering my purpose in life. I’ll spare you the details of the first five years but, suffice it to say, there was everything from being a private investigator to being a dog walker to being a software developer in those years. In all of these instances, I was trying to figure out how to do things the D.C. way.
I saw the people everywhere around me, in the ‘burb of Old Town Alexandria where I lived, with quarter-million dollar dream homes and a of pair of Mercedes with complementary custom license plates. The impeccable wardrobes and branded coffee cups they marched around in and with — I wanted that. Or I thought I wanted that. Funny enough, it took getting a respectable job in the financial industry for me to realize that I was completely fooling myself.
I worked in the industry for about three-and-a-half years. My boss never once raised his voice to me. He gave me an absurdly large raise once when I asked for it. My direct supervisor kept pushing me to get licensed, and she seemed to have big plans for me in mind, career-wise. So why did I quit all that to start my own business?
It’s simple, actualIy. I never felt like I was being one of the good people. I always felt like I was just a cog in a machine, and after those years in the financial industry, I realized that I’d lost my North Star. Sometimes the stars just don’t line up.
Fortunately, I did end up finding it with the help of my my aunt, who needed help with her business. She has always been remarkably good at finding peculiar markets that no one else would ever think of and where there is a large need. She has successfully started an aromatherapy company, a do-it-yourself makeup company, an empty makeup container company and a pigment company. She needed help with the empty makeup container portion. She sells in units of hundreds, and there was a need for smaller batch stuff, so she asked me if I could take over. I did, and the business started off in the black in the first month. I told you my aunt was good at identifying markets.
The business has done better and better each month, and while obviously I have to attribute a lot of that to the help I got from my aunt, I believe my hard work, organizational skills and passion have driven the business as well. Because of my newfound confidence in myself due to the success of the business, I have also traded my financial sector job for a job working in retail analytics. This job allows me to work from home, and the field dovetails perfectly into my online retail business in terms of knowledge base. The job is not 100 percent secure, as it’s a very small firm and I took a pay cut to take the job as well. But it was a no-brainer, because I believe in the owner’s mission. I needed to stop feeling like a cog and start feeling like a human again.
What does this have to do with being one of the good people in life? Well, I have big plans for my company. If I couldn’t make a difference working for a company, I decided that I was going to make a difference owning a company. I have plans to partner with United States manufacturers in order to have as much of my product come from the U.S. as possible. I am researching how to obtain plastic for my products from pollutants — I specifically have a vision for an “ocean plastic” line of products. I plan on hiring staff based on their need as much as my own. Specifically, I believe non-violent offenders have a right to try to turn over a new leaf and be productive members of society, so that’s with whom I plan to try to staff my company.
I have only been working from home on the personal business and retail analytics role for four weeks now, but I already feel like a totally different person. I have energy and optimism, whereas before I had neither. It seems like my ability to finally be creative begets more creativity, as I have a new interest in learning how to grow a proper garden, make candles out of old beer bottles and a whole host of other goofy things. I no longer dream of making it in D.C. That’s fine for other people, but I also realized that it was fine if it wasn’t for me. My long term goal is to get a tract of land out west again and have my little business and hopefully my beautiful garden and just be happy. Be one of the good people. Just be.