In March of 2015, after filing my patent application, I introduced Bagnet to the world via my website and a steady stream of craft and gift shows. I’ve talked a lot about the process of building my company over the past 5 years, so I thought this anniversary I would share my pre-Bagnet story and the completely unexpected path that has brought me where I am today.
After graduating from high school, I worked as a waitress and put myself through community college in upstate New York. Armed with the naive confidence a fresh AA degree brings, my best friend and I decided to move to California. We took a year off school and worked to save money for our big move to Sacramento. We drove to California to start our lives, and I took another year off school so that I could attain residency and not pay out-of-state tuition. When I finally began attending CSU Sacramento, I was 23 years old. I worked full time as a waitress in two restaurants as I put myself through college. I remember counting the years and months until I would graduate and get a “real” job, so that I could FINALLY stop waiting on tables. I was going to school to earn a BA in Interior Design, and at that time the CSUS interior design program was impacted, which meant there were more students in the program than teachers/classes needed to teach. There were semesters when I took only 6 credits because the classes I needed were full by the time I was eligible to enroll. I graduated with my BA when I was 28 years old – it took me nine. damn. years. to get my Bachelor’s degree.
But I hated that it took me so long to graduate from college. I felt behind my peers and I struggled with knowing my life decisions had delayed my progress. To top it off, I graduated and got a job as a junior designer just before the financial crisis in 2008. When I was hired, I had imagined that I would quickly “move up the ranks” or get my feet wet then move on to another company. When the crash happened, I was making $17 an hour as a designer (less than I made waiting on tables).
To make ends meet, I still worked weekends as a waitress. For the next couple of years while the economy was in the toilet, as layoffs and furloughs became a monthly occurrence, I knew I was lucky to have a job. But, I was frustrated that I had to work two jobs and I knew there wouldn’t be a pay raise anytime soon. I looked for design work at other companies to no avail. I was so frustrated and disheartened that I considered getting my teaching credential. I started tutoring low-income children during evenings, but I soon realized that teaching was not for me. I decided that my only way out of (what I thought was) my dead end job was to become a radiographer. I could get the necessary training and be making 3x my current salary in just a couple of years. So I WENT BACK TO SCHOOL.
After the nine years it took me to get my BA, and after spending so long dreaming of the day I would be done with school, I started attending classes at night as I continued to work my day job. Each night I would make and pack my lunch and dinner for the next day, because I would work from 8 to 5 then go straight to school where I’d be until 9pm. I was 31 years old and I felt like I was no better off than I was at 21. Then, at the end of my first semester back in school, the tides turned. I was asked to join my company’s sales team in a sales/design position that would allow me to earn more money while not sacrificing my creative role. I would earn a base salary that was 30% more than I was making as a designer, plus commission. I stopped taking night classes and focused on my new role.
My first year on the sales team I earned 3 times what I had made the year before. I was elated. I loved my job – it was exciting and challenging and I was succeeding in a role I never thought I’d be good at. I was proud of my success and finally felt like I was on a positive path to an actual career. I loved no longer worrying about money and I banished all thoughts of returning to college.
After two successful years selling commercial furniture, I was asked to become the sole salesperson of a line of interior architectural products. Even though I didn’t really want the job,
I believed that the only way I could continue advancing in the company was to take the position, so I accepted. And I hated it.
I spent every day with a knot in my stomach and dreaded everything about my job. I knew I was ticking time bomb, and it was only a matter of time until I’d wake up one day and say “I can’t do this anymore.” It was right at that time that I invented Bagnet.
I wasn’t even looking for an “out,” it was actually my husband who pushed me to make the prototype. After hearing me talk about my idea for the umpteenth time, he said “would you just make one already?!”, so I did. Ten months later I quit my job and I’ve done nothing but Bagnet ever since.
I’ve spent hours and hours worrying, and stressing, and fretting. I’ve cried and doubted and struggled. Six years ago if you told me that I’d be where I am now, I’d have fallen out of my chair. I am in a constant state of learning and growing, because nothing in my past experience or education has prepared me for any of this. But I absolutely love it. I wouldn’t trade a second of it. The path was definitely not a straight one, but the years of struggling and (what I thought were) bad decisions have led me here. I know without a doubt it’s exactly where I am supposed to be. Life is pretty fucking weird sometimes.