Thursday, 3 October 2013

Taking the plunge

If you didn't know already, here's the set-up at Reloved Vintage.
Laura paints, I lift. That’s about it. Okay, she also sands, varnishes, buys, sells, does all the photography and design, runs the website and looks after the money side of things while I play around on Facebook. But I think you’ll agree, it’s a pretty fair partnership.
We also both have full-time day jobs.
This gets in the way a bit, but that’s the way it has always been. We work together for a magazine publishing company (we actually sit next to each other in the office) all day, then go home and get cracking on Reloved Vintage stuff for the evening/weekend.
It doesn’t leave a lot of time for much else. I have a 10-year-old daughter from a previous relationship – she stays with us every other weekend and every Monday (5 nights out of every 14, if you’re counting), so that’s another commitment that holds up work on the RV side of things.

That's a plate-spinner. It's an analogy. Keep up.

It’s to Laura’s credit that her hard work and perfectionism have made so many people think we’re bigger than we are. Her work is of such a high standard and her self-designed website so professional looking that we get emails from students wanting to do work experience with us (we actually were able to offer a virtual placement to one student) and people saying they’ll drop into our shop next time they’re passing.
I’m obviously very biased, but Laura’s painted furniture is among the highest standard of any I’ve seen. It is certainly of a much better finish and with far more quality control than that of some furniture sold in some well-established shops. But, I digress…
We know we’re not alone in having two jobs – there are plenty of people who work in our office who go off and earn money in other places when 5.30pm comes around – and we know that a lot of the Facebook pages we really love are run by people who paint furniture in their spare time.
There are also lots of people who paint furniture full-time. These people have either taken a big risk in giving up a reliable source of income (good for you), or have found themselves out of work for one reason or another (good for you), or perhaps don’t actually need to work, but enjoy the painting as a hobby and a few extra quid (want to swap?).
Our day jobs aren’t particularly well-paid, we don’t own our own home and neither of us has any money to fall back on. If Laura gave up her job and had a very quiet month on the furniture front, we’d really struggle to get by on my wage alone.
If we both gave up our jobs the rent probably wouldn’t get paid and we’d have to start hunting squirrels for dinner.

Squirrel: probably tastes quite nutty

These scenarios can be seen two ways – as motivation to do well, or as a sign that the risk is too big.
If one of us is to go full-time on RV, it will be Laura (she does all the work, so it makes sense) that way I’ll still have a steady income (though I wish someone had told me, 25 years ago, that there’s no money in journalism, so pay attention in your maths lessons instead) and I can still offer my delivery/selling services for evenings and weekend events.
I’m certain Laura could, given all week to source, paint and sell furniture, make a good living. Probably good enough for me to give up work and join her a few months/years down the line, so we can grow the business.
So why not do it? Why not just take the plunge?
Because it’s scary. Very scary.
The thought of having no money is an unpleasant one – we’ve both been there before, in different ways, and it’s not fun.
Have you been in this position? What did you do? Should we just man up and go for it? We’d love to hear your advice and experiences.