Shower Thoughts: My Why

Well my husband was right. It’s Thursday, and my last shower this week was Sunday. Whadaya gunna do?


I digress. In this morning’s Shower Thoughts™, I was reflecting on my Why. I capitalize this because it’s the thing every marketer ever tells you to focus on to differentiate your brand. Why do you do what you do? I’ve changed mine about a thousand times in the past (almost) ten years. Supposedly consistency is key here, but I’m a rebel so again - whadaya gunna do? The thing, though, is that I don’t think I’ve actually changed it so much as I’ve honed in on it, or simplified it, maybe? I was supposed to do a podcast interview tomorrow morning but G is home sick this week so I postponed it. However, the pre-interview questions got me thinking. That, and the fact that I’ve been working with the indomitable Tish Diggs for the past month and a half, and she’s cracked me wide freaking open. I thought I was an open book before, but now I see how terrified I was of being my actual self. No more.


Ten years ago, baby 23 year old Mary Frances was about to leave New York City and move home to Columbus, GA, where she had literally no idea what would happen next. Shame. That’s all I remember feeling. I’m a college graduate, I couldn’t hack it in NYC, and now I’m moving home - I failed. I went to jewelry school to learn jewelry production, I’ve been sort of making jewelry and selling it on a bare bones website for almost a year, but I have no business experience so obviously I can’t do this as my real job. I’m moving home to live with my parents like every other millennial, and I failed. (This is, of course, looking back on March/April 2014.) Maybe a month later I would find out that my boyfriend at the time, husband now, got a job in Asheville, NC, and would be moving there. Given that I had no interest in staying at my parents’ house in my hometown, I think it took me approximately 5 seconds to say, okay, sure, I’ll move to Asheville, too - with absolutely zero plan at all. (Also, for the record, he did not ask. I just decided I'd join him. Lol at the gall of baby MF. Good thing he stuck around.) Once again, I was a failure because I didn’t have any job prospects, and I was just following a boy somewhere. But hey, at least I wasn’t living with my parents! I moved to Asheville August 8, 2014 (into my own tiny apartment for which I was solely responsible for the rent, mind you.) This was the day I decided through sheer grit and blind determination that I would make this business work, previous experience be damned. This is also the day that I call my work anniversary (though the LLC wasn’t filed until later, but that’s another story for another time). My dad, an entrepreneur himself, gave me a lump sum of money, and I was on my way so to speak. (a very modest amount, I promise you - but this is the part of the story I never want to leave out because I fully recognize my privilege here. If he hadn’t been successful himself, given me a few thousand dollars, and if that money hadn’t signified his belief in me and my own future success, this story would never even be worth telling at all.)


So, Asheville. My adult hometown, as I like to call it. I owe a lot to that little mountain town. It’s where I grew up, really. Where I learned so much, and where I made friends who mean more to me than I can express in words. It was where I began this entrepreneurial journey. Where I had my first studio outside of a spare bedroom in my home, where I was completely broke more often than not but I kept going anyway, where I lived when I got my sidekick Porter, where Hobbs and I decided we were in it for the long haul together, where I cut my teeth in business, as they say. I came to Asheville with the intent of working part time somewhere with a steady paycheck and using my other time to work on my business. However, I never really could find a steady paycheck that wouldn’t make me miserable so, with my dad’s encouragement, I decided to go the broke artist route.


That’s a very long-winded intro to my Why, but if you’re still with me, bless you. When I began this business, I was out to prove myself. I started it already feeling like a failure, and all I wanted was to make some money, support myself, and never feel like a failure again. Joke's on me, I still feel like one everyday for one thing or another. Not to say I’m throwing myself a pity party, just saying I think that feeling is just sort of part of it all - but you learn to walk alongside it, not let it guide you. You learn to recognize it as it comes and say begrudgingly, ugh fine, if you’re gunna be here whatever, just sit quietly in the back cause I’m still in charge. This is how I talk to that inner demon - as sarcastically as possible so it listens with interest and still finds me charming (why the F am I trying to impress my inner voice? IDK, this ish is deep-seeded, yall.)


Gah-lee, maybe I’ll finally get to my Why — I wanted to make money. There it is. That was it. I wanted to start a business to make money. Novel idea, right? Totally original. I had you on the edge of your seats, I know it. But really, it was as simple as that. In college, I interned for a fine jewelry designer, I found out I really liked it and might even be a little good at it. I went to a school in NYC to learn how to do the production of it, and then I decided to start a business because I knew I wanted to be able to financially support myself. None of this is ground breaking, but also none of it ever seems like the thing people talk about. It’s Occam’s razor, isn’t it? The simplest explanation is the right one.


But like I said before, I’ve changed my Why a thousand times over the course of a decade - on the outside, at least. I told people it was because I wanted to instill confidence in women by what they put on their bodies. Or that it was because I wanted people to feel a deeper connection to their past and future through jewelry. Blah blah blah. None of these are bad things nor are they untrue, they just aren’t the real root of it. I saw my friend Dorothy Shain put something on Instagram the other day about how she felt for so long that saying out loud that she wanted to make money from her art and have financial freedom felt like a taboo thing to say. But in reality, those with wealth and a heart for good are actually a good thing, not something to hide or feel ashamed by. So that’s my why - to make money so I can do good. I want to provide for my family and give my daughter eye-opening experiences that encourage her to strive to do good in the world, too. I want to feel a financial freedom that allows me to give back to things I deeply care about. I want to feel like I’ve done enough and made enough that my efforts while I’m alive continue making waves after I’m gone. I mean, is that too much to ask?? (This is an lol moment, I understand how freaking cerebral all this sounds.) But really, that’s my goal. I love making jewelry, and I love working with you guys on custom work - believe me. But, really, I think of my work and my brand as actually a channel for bigger things than that. Like I said, I’ve been working with Tish Diggs, and she opened me right up and gave me a lens I’d never seen through before so who knows what will come from MFM down the road. Stick around, let’s find out ;)

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