Thursday, August 29, 2013

Be A Buffalo

-Zig Ziglar
10 Things I've learned in the last week:
1.Small Businesses don't have many advocates.
2.Waterproof makeup is not "tear-proof". Gushing piles of bitter tears wash that all right down your cheeks until you look like a zombie raccoon.
3. The people in our city government are very kind and understanding, ESPECIALLY the sheriff, but they have to obey the laws of the city when someone calls in a complaint. I'm pretty sure you could run an illegal alligator smuggling trade right in the comfort of your own home and my city wouldn't bother you, unless the neighbor who loves alligators called you in on it, then the city has to address the problem. I've read through so many legal pages and documents for the different cities around here that I feel like my eyeballs will start bleeding, rather than just gushing tears.  You have to put in A LOT of hard work to figure out the fine print for running a home-based business, and I suppose that was one of our greatest mistakes. It's just ignorance of your own ignorance. Very dangerous.
4. I have the power to forgive. I also have the power to go right back to being pissed off and feeling victimized. Then I have the power to forgive. Then I have the power right back to cursing the skies and feeling like giving up on entrepreneurship all together. Then I have the power to forgive. This person couldn't have known that they were putting a whole entire company in jeopardy, costing them thousands of dollars, and endangering the livelihood of very good people.
5.If you want to get a commercial space in Spanish Fork, the rent STARTS at about $800 a month and goes up from there. Anyone running a small business knows that cutting that much out of your profits is the equivalent of shoving toothpicks under your toenails, comfort-wise.
6. There is clearly a huge gap between small businesses and the giant companies. There is literally no middle ground. Apparently you either cobble together bird feeders in your basement (no more than the lesser of either 300 square feet or 15% of your total living space! Let's be absolutely legal!) or you move the operation to Honduras and have a factory throwing together bird feeders by the thousands, and then your factory manager gets shot and killed. (This last part is a true story, only the factory was making oven mitts. One of our new neighbors in our commercial space was telling us about his friend just trying to run a company, and his manager got shot and all MANNER of hideous things happened afterwards. He's trying to move his factory to our town. I had better caution him against it!)
7. Burning a whole entire pan of corn on the cob while you're trying to work through your feelings in a blog really sucks....and it stinks...literally. My whole house smells like popcorn scorching on a table lamp. I'm too numb to be upset about it. There are much worse things to go through.
8. I can forgive. I CAN change my attitude. I know I can.
9.Falling apart and sobbing while you're on the phone with Comcast, as they're telling you that it will take a whole ADDITIONAL week to finally hook up your internet..that's embarassing. My voice cracked as I explained that my whole business is run through the internet. The last part of the conversation was the lady saying (in a very rehearsed-robotic, business-like tone of voice)" I'm sorry for the inconvenience, ma'am. I can give you my direct line here and  you can call back every day to see if there is an opening sooner. "  Me-(tearing up for the 17th time that hour, sniffling... you can practically wipe the snot coming off my face.) "It's okay. I don't want to call back. I've lost all hope."  Click. End.
10. I have to be a buffalo. I just have to. I talked to my oldest brother today, and he told me that. Apparently, when a storm is coming, cows turn and try to run, but buffaloes face the storm and charge into it headfirst, as to not prolong the torment.
         My brother must know me very well, because the image resonated with me. He also knows me well enough to know that I'm a dramatic passionate woman, which feeds my business and moves it forward, but could also crush it apart on a whim. He kept saying, "Michelle, don't do anything drastic. I know you're pregnant and emotional. Don't do anything drastic.  You're stronger than this."   Speaking of drastic. *cough* Just last night, I had decided to shut down the corset business forever, burn all of my bridges, and maybe have my husband go back to school so we could sink ourselves into debt, he could get a soul-sucking job that paid him $30,000 a year, and I would just recede into depression and darkness, never coming out again.
       Then I woke up this morning and felt like myself again, like I could take on the world! I remembered that I fiercely loved my company, my customers, and the blessings that all of us receive from it! I remembered that I can KNOW I'm successful if people want to badly to tear me down. I remembered that Dave Ramsey (whom I absolutely love and adore!) said that he gets so much hate mail from people each day that they could bale it! I remembered "No Pain, No Gain!"  I thought about the song that says "You can't get up if you never fall down." I drew up every positive quote and thought I could and wanted to blast them out of my rolypoly pregnant body as I faced the beautiful sun-shiny day!
       I got to work at our commercial space (I'll post pictures, if you guys are interested. It's a measly 1200 square feet of space, and we are already jam-packed. Our bolts of fabric take up 2 entire walls, lined 2-3 bolts deep!!) and I gleefully ate some brownie brittle! (I originally thought this was a wretched idea, as the best part about brownies is the fudgy, seductive, gooiness that wants you to salivate all over it as you nuzzle the tender morsels up to your maw. However, for some reason, this stuff is flipping awesome.)
      After a few hours, I started worrying about the million billion things on my mind, finding bitterness in my heart again, thinking of all the reasons that I would inevitably fail, and dreaming about how it would be the actually know how much money you're going to make that week with the brilliant invention of a paycheck.
And I had to work to build myself back up.
        I'm not divulging all of this because I want you guys to feel sorry for me. I feel like one of the biggest strengths of my business is the connection with the customers who make it possible.  Without all of these supportive, creative, good-hearted men and women, I'm just a girl with a big sewing machine and too much fabric. My favorite thing at festivals is when I actually have enough time to TALK to my customers. I love, love LOVE it when they tell me about their lives, their struggles, their families, their female emotions, and especially about the internal wars with their body images. Even though I actually don't use facebook at all as a personal thing for me, I LOVE it for my business, because it adds to my very existence to see happy smiling women, feeling powerful and beautiful in their own bodies wrapped in the loving embrace of one of our corsets. Oh, hell. There I go crying again. I'll blame the burnt corn fumes. Anyhow, I feel that it's really important for all of you to know who I am, where I come from, why I do this, and where I want to go. Perhaps if I open the doors wide and let you see my weaknesses, you'll have the courage to open up to me, and we can form better relationships. I feel deeply that business IS about relationships and people. Sure, the product is there, but the emotion and ideals behind the product give it substance, and the people involved give it a soul.
          If you don't believe that I'm attached to you guys, on a very palpable, individual basis, just ask my husband. He was trying to help me go through the submissions for the photo lookbook contest, and with each one he would pull up, I would burst out, "Oh, I LOVE her! She's from Finland and she loves color and refuses to every wear anything boring!  OOooh, I LOVE her! She has the coolest family, I met them at the festival, and they brought me snow cones and we ate them together. Oooh, I!.....and so on and so on."  It's like I said, I was supposed to narrow them down to about 30 submissions, and when it was up to me, I still had 80-100. I had to hand it over to him, where he is still making decisions about formatting, lighting and adjustments for the preset format of the magazine.  It's just that I wanted EVERYONE to shine! I loved these women so much for sharing their images with me (which I honestly DO know is scary. I think most of us would be a little uncomfortable with the idea of being "models") and I just felt such prodigious gratitude as I went through the beautiful photos!
       Phew, I'm already feeling BETTER  just thinking about all of the people who give so much unfailing support to me and my company. Giving up is not an option. Eating brownie brittle and walking into the storm like a buffalo seems to be my only option right now.


  1. I just discovered brownie brittle the other day too... Dangerous stuff!

    I am so sorry for all that your business is going through. I wish I could have afford to buy more in your moving sale to help out, but I do love my lace blouse, and someday soon, I will finally have a corset.

    Hang in there, you brownie buffalo you!

  2. You go, girl. Charge into that storm and own it. Right now things are dim and difficult, but the storm will break. Someday, somehow this will turn out to be a blessing.

    Know that Team Damsel is always behind you!

  3. You can do it! I know it's easier to give advice than to accept it, same with giving encouragement I'd like to think. You gave me so much to look forward to with Steamfest and my other ventures and now I tell you this. You can do it. You can continue to go after your dreams and conquer the world, because if YOU don't do it, who will? There's only one Michelle, and there can only be ONE Damsel in this Dress company!!

  4. Michelle, I rarely comment but you inspire me so much. You are pretty freaking amazing. Your spirit and your work is incredible and touches so many people, that's why you have legions of adoring fans who are behind you 100%. This is such a stressful setback and I can't even imagine how hard it's been, but you'll come through strong as always. We love you. Never give up, never surrender!

  5. Oh I'm so glad you're a Dave fan! He has changed my life so much. Without Dave we would not have ever been able to go into business. Amazing. You will get thru this. Buffalo on, sister! I'll see you next week at Shrewsbury and we can eat whatever you want and talk about how business is hard but life is awesome! I'm bringing my girl posse. And a couple of spare men. Yay!

  6. I want you to know how I feel about you. I have met you twice, one several years ago, and once last year at the Scottish Games in Lehi. I didn't get to talk with you as you were very busy, and I wasn't in the market at the time. I was very sad that you and I couldn't talk, I feel like you are a friend that I only get to see once a year at the most. I also want to say that you are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. Your beauty radiates from your pride in what you do, and how well you do it. It radiates from your love of you customers, and your want to make all women feel sexy, admired and loved, no matter the size of there body. You sew magnificently and you should be proud of everything that you have done, and all the lives you have touched. I own $300 dressed for formal events, an I don't feel my best in them like I do your corset and skirts. Also, remember that most people are not hateful nor do they want to see you fail, they just don't weigh their actions carefully enough before doing them.
    Have faith, in whatever you hold dear to you, and remember that the buffalo has outlived every problem ever thrown at it with the help of someone that admires them for who they are.

  7. I've never commented on your blog before, Michelle, but I wanted to express how delighted I am that you can keep on making us corsets. I have back problems and am going in for surgery a few weeks from now and I have to tell you my greatest fear is that my surgeon might tell me I'm not allowed to wear any of my corsets again - they are my favorite things to wear when I'm feeling like less than a grain of sand. I look forward to the once or twice a year when I can afford to buy one of your pieces... When I heard about all the horrible things you and the business were going through, I wanted to cry with you - actually, I did cry a little, I'm blaming it on copious amounts of strange drugs and a strangely strong love for your business. Hopefully, though, with a commercial space you can be more creative and more productive - and maybe you can have photo shoots in-house where you don't get chased off by angry farmers. I would also like to tell you that you've been an inspiration to me, I'm not a great seamstress in any sense of the word but you have inspired me to start my own teensy business from the confines of my home selling simple things I've made and other items. Be the buffalo. Be the river that flows where it can, or even better - be the electric current that takes the path of least resistance. :)

    1. Also.. where does one find this.. brownie brittle...?

  8. *HUGS* Prayers and good wishes for you and yours. You can do it! My husband and I LOVE the corset I ordered from you and I've been looking forward to seeing you at SLC ComicCon so I can get a matching blouse and/or skirt.

  9. You have our never ending love and support! <3 Always.

  10. Hang on Hot Stuff! I know its been hell week but what doesn't kill us, right?

    Huge bear hugs from very hot Texas!

  11. Michelle, you're AMAZING!! I agree with all these fine people here that you have our support and prayers and good wishes. I know you're totally going to make this commercial space work and will be better than ever! EVER! Buffalo on! /\m/\ (<- buffalo horns :) )

  12. Hi Michelle, I usually don't comment on your blog or FB page, but I just want you to know you have my support. Your corsets are so gorgeous, and I can always tell how much passion you have for your business and love for your customers. I have a small business too, and keeping up with all the legality is a giant pain in the butt, but you have too much talent to give up! :)

  13. Oh, honey! You are absolutely right, focus on forgiving and understanding the scum sucking, jerk faced, self important, arrogant, pretentious, wannabe yuppie brat that decided to file complaints against their neighbor without so much as discussing it with them first. You have to be above that sort of thing. Then remind yourself why we do what we do instead of a regular soul sucking job. We create things that people love, that they wear with pride Out there in the world, people are choosing to wear the things you have created and they are making the women who wear them feel beautiful and the men who notice them appreciative. At the end of the day you can sit down in your new, overpriced commercial space, hold a stack of corsets in your hands and say "This is what I do." Maybe it's not the most important work in the world, but it is a million times more satisfying than than walking away from a cubicle saying "I helped make more money for a giant soulless corporation. Yay."

  14. Your such an amazing woman, who helps other women realize and feel there beauty. Now, that's has been said. Please never give up! We Cosplay/ Steampunk/ Corset enthusiasts NEED you!!!! I truly believe most of us would be lost without our Damsels. We love you and your company, and the fact that your fighting so hard for it, means you know how much we all love you too. :) You have so many loyal subjects, and we will patiently wait while you figure out all this crazyness that is going on.

  15. Michelle - I'll be rocking the whole DamselDress ensemble at the Ft. Bridger Rendezvous this weekend and offering a walking advertisement for my favorite crazy seamstress and her wonderful company. My very best wishes for you all - and remember even on the toughest days your corsets and costuming go out in the world brilliantly to make the world and our attitudes beautiful! Thanks so much for all your hard work. Keep your chin up girl- Karrie

  16. Even though you're going through a hormone-amplified shit-storm of chaos, know that we are behind you. We're rooting for you! You have too much talent and sincerity for what you do to fade away into mundane life. You know what, though you might feel small and battered by red tape, the reality is that you spread joy, confidence, and beauty to thousands of people! That's a big deal! And a big difference that you're making in people's lives! So, thank you. Now go be a triumphant buffalo!

  17. You quoted something on face book a few days ago and I commented Go Home Your Drunk. I had no idea you were having problems and I want to apologize. I did not mean to be cruel. I am a customer and love your product and a fellow small business owner Please accept my sincere apology. I am sorry.

  18. Just dropping by to order another wonderful corset and catch up on your blog ... and read your entry with a heavy heart. I wish I had more to offer by way of support than just words, but I would like to add my sentiments to those of everyone else here - stay strong. You are such an inspiration, and your creations are helping women all over the world (I'm in Australia!) feel happy, beautiful and special: that's a pretty amazing thing to be able to do with your life :o) Thank you for your wonderful work: I truly, deeply wish all the very best for you - that this upheaval is actually the start of a great new phase for you, your business and colleagues, and your family.

    Just a thought - any chance of perhaps doing a fund-raising campaign on Indiegogo or Kickstarter to assist with moving costs/setting up costs etc? I am sure that there would be many friends and customers who would be very happy to contribute what they could...

    My thoughts are with you :o)

  19. It's odd how I just ordered yet another Wench corset on Friday (the most UNIVERSAL thing ever, in my opinion). I saw this tonight, and I freaked out because I read the part about possibly having to shut down. I was scared because you're the only corsetmaker that I know of that can deliver such a great product for such a small price (also, the fact that you live within my own country makes me even happier). I have grown to love and care for you, your family, and the company as a whole, despite the fact that I live on the East Coast and have never met you in person. I wish you the best.

    P.S.: Miriam, IndieGoGo is really awesome. My Rocky Horror cast used it at one point to fundraise to get a new projector for our theater. So far we've gotten about half of the money that's needed.

  20. OMD! WHO SELLS BROWNIE BRITTLE? I only like the burnt bits left in the pan, not raw dense cake stuff, this sounds right up my ally. I think tons of women just gave a collective sigh knowing that our beloved corsets and our most beloved corset maker aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

  21. I've never heard of Brownie Brittle, but it looks amazing! I WANT SOME TOO!

    Michelle, your business is going to succeed as long as YOU want it to. You have to look at this latest episode as 'growing pains'. You make wonderful products that we are all proud to wear and share! It'd be a downright bloody shame to lose you when you have such creativity to share.

    Big hugs, and HANG IN THERE!

  22. SO amazing to see all you've been through recently and you still show up smiling at Comic Con (my first encounter with DITD and I'm in love)!
    I admire your spirit and your style! You go girl!!

  23. well Michelle this is the first time I have commented on your blog and second time being on your site. my name is Bella and we have met twice once at a Christmas show in salt lake two years ago and again in lehi at the Scottish festival. both times I was lucky enough to get to talk to you. you are amazing I love going to your booths and seeing you all dressed up. your always bursting with energy its quite intoxicating and addictive. in a good way not a creepy way. you have a wonderful personality and it draws people to you which is good especially for the line of work your in.

    im sorry to hear your having such a hard time someone as sweet as you shouldn't be so down. and congrats on the baby!!! you will be such a fun momma and a good one at that.

    keep your head up things will get better and who knows maybe this is happening to make you stronger just stay as positive as you can know one is perfect.