Forever I have prided myself on having a side hustle, but today that changes. I’m taking Girl Meets Party full-time! It’s hard to believe I am FINALLY writing this post. I’ve envisioned it so many times. How I would tell the world that I quit my full-time job. In my vision, I’d first have the most adorable photoshoot with Emmie. I’d have my hair & makeup done by Bianca Sansosti Artistry, of course. Lauren Michelle would take our photos, and Emilia would be in an adorable onesie that says ‘Girl Meets Party Intern’ from Cheerily with a Little Poppy bow on her head.
Well, it’s 6:15pm the night before this post goes live, and I can confirm — none of that happened. That’s not real life. Below is real life. An unedited photo of two first-time parents that have been up since 4am just trying to get by.
This post has been a hard one for me to write because the transition has been tricker than I expected even though it’s been planned for SO long. I’ll be upfront that some of it sounds negative. It’s not intended to be, but it’s the truth of this journey, and it’s my story. If you’re interested in my backstory read questions 1 and 2. If not, skip ahead to number 3.
1. When did you know you wanted to start your own business?
90 days into my first job, I knew corporate life was not for me. I caught onto the politics quickly and struggled with it. I also wanted more. Trust me, I’ve never been the smartest gal in the room, but corporate life felt too easy. I wanted more of a challenge. I also come from a really long line of entrepreneurs. In fact, my great-grandfather started one of the first ‘grocery stores’ via horse and wagon on the south side of Chicago in the early 1900s. My grandfather was an entrepreneur. My mom is an entrepreneur. It’s in my blood. Having my own business was like an itch I couldn’t scratch for years. While I wanted my own business, I wanted experience first. So, I spent the next 10 years in corporate America building my brand management and innovation career.
2. How long did you side hustle?
I started Girl Meets Party 3 years ago after our wedding. In my opinion, when you start a business you either sacrifice time or money. I made the decision to sacrifice my time because I, frankly, was too scared to sacrifice our money. I worked nights and weekends the last three years [often missing out of social outings with friends] to get to today. All along, this has felt like my path so I didn’t mind missing out. It will take hard work to get to where I want to be, but I was (and am) willing to pay my dues to get there.
If you have a side hustle today, keep going. You will get there. Know that you have to be your own #1 cheerleader, but like Dori says… ‘Just keep swimming.’
3. How did you plan to go full-time with Girl Meets Party?
For the longest time, I didn’t know and that made me crazy. I was working so hard – countless hours – and had no idea if it would pay off. If you know me at all, I’m a goals kinda gal. Without a mile marker, I felt lost. So I hired a career coach. Enter Be Bright Lisa. Life became better, clearer and definitely more uncomfortable [in a good way] when I met this shining light.
Once I met Lisa, things kicked into gear. She pushed me to set goals that I thought would be unattainable in 12 months (dream big as they say), and then I hit them in 6 months. Suddenly, the thought of leaving my full-time job didn’t sound crazy – it sounded like the natural next step. Plus, I’ve had blogger friends either do it this year (oh hey, Emily) or cheer me on along the way (forever thankful, Maya & Nicole).
4. When did you decide to leave your job?
Well, the initial plan was that I was going to leave in March of 2018. Then, we got pregnant faster than expected. Going full-time with my business and being pregnant seemed like a bit much, so we shifted the timing. The plan became to work both jobs while pregnant and re-assess after baby arrived. I charged full steam ahead on both jobs and Suree & I found our pop-up studio. Looking back on it, I have no idea how I flipped the studio 6 months pregnant. Nevertheless, I made it.
Two and a half weeks before Emilia’s due date, the company I worked for announced we were going to go through layoffs. They took a progressive approach (which I greatly admire) to offer voluntary severance packages before people were involuntarily severed. Long story short, a severance package was on the table for me. It’s safe to say, the stars aligned. My greatest fear had been having the runway to start my business. That runway arrived.
5. Why has it been a tricky transition if this was planned?
I 125% underestimated how tricky it would be to juggle becoming a mom, having that role redefine my marriage and nurture my business. It’s been hard. I wouldn’t trade it for the world because it still feels right, but it’s a lot. We’re in the trenches (as most new parents are) and I overlaid my entrepreneurial debut on top of that. Although I’m completely overwhelmed some days, we’re finding our footing and continue to be teammates. Now, when Matt anticipates a need before I even ask, it’s like I won the lottery. You learn to appreciate your partner in a new light. Parenthood is a curveball, but the best kind that can be thrown at you.
6. What’s next for Girl Meets Party?
I’m so thrilled about where things are going. The website updates aren’t complete yet (remember that sleep-deprivation I mentioned at the beginning of the post? It’s a thing.), but the plans are laid out. I’ll be keeping the blog and increasing the brand collaborations we take on. I’m also maintaining the consulting piece to Girl Meets Party as well as our events planning side. It’s not quite properly outlined on the site yet, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor was my business.
So, as I jump in, as messy as it may be, I want to say thanks. Matt, thank you for always correcting my grammar (ha!) and standing beside me no matter how secretly crazy (or not so secretly) you think I am. To my Mom for always being my sounding board and comfort, and my Dad who tells me I’m brilliant even when it’s a basic idea. To Suree, who’s been my sidekick & confidant, I wouldn’t be here without you. And to you… If you made it to the bottom of this 1000 word blog post, it means you care about me, and that means a lot. More than you’ll ever know. Every text, Facebook message, email and DM I receive put a little bit more fuel in this tank to keep going. And if you ever start to doubt yourself, will you do me a favor? Call me. I promise to repay the favor because you got this.
Affectionately known to her friends as Millennial Martha for her love of DIY and decorating, Jen can’t help but pour her heart + soul into everything she touches. She’s loved to entertain since acquiring a table and chairs, and giving gifts is one of her favorite hobbies. Jen is the creator of Girl Meets Party. Her dream is to share her passions with the world in hopes to inspire others by making the seemingly unattainable attainable.