In February of 2003, I was accepted to USC. It was my first acceptance letter and my family went out to the Spaghetti Factory to celebrate. At the time, I didn't think it would be the school I chose but as the "We regret to inform you..." and the "Congratulations!" envelopes rolled in, it became more and more obvious that I was headed to downtown LA in the fall. It helped that I was given a small academic scholarship and I was accepted into a special Freshman business majors program that meant I had the option to do a "combined major."
I made my first big mistake (that ended up paying off in a round-about way) and picked the combined major of business & film school. I had grand plans of working on the business side of the "glamorous" film industry once I graduated college. (HA!)
But back in Sacramento, I still had to graduate high school and I had recently started my first business.
Without much fanfare, I had cornered the market of the "collage-d frame industry" which, as I am sure you've guessed is a fairly small niche. I don't remember how it started, but suddenly I found myself with quite a boom. I was decorating wooden 4x6 picture frames (sold at Michael's, you know the ones) with paper, ribbon and small embellishments. I used mod podge to hold everything together (obviously) and sold the frames to my classmates and teachers for ten dollars.
My business grew quickly and with each sale I developed more solid practices:
1) I had an INS and OUTS excel spreadsheet that was only slightly less complex than the one I use today. I tracked every dime coming in and every dime going out. (Just like today.)
2) I carried around a small 4x6 photo album of samples for people to choose from designs and color schemes. (This was obviously pre-instagram. My sample photos were, waitforit, taken with film.)
3) I designed a logo that was tucked into the photo portion of each frame. (It was my initals in the shape of a butterfly).
4) I learned to give myself greater lead-time (instead of having to go to Michael's every single night each week) and started investing in my business by purchasing supplies when they were deeply discounted instead of when I needed them.
5) I created a big marketing push around Mother's Day. ($10 for a meaningful gift you didn't have to make yourself = high school kid GOLD.)
After a few months, school ended and my business shuttered. I was a few grand richer in dollars and an unknown amount richer in experience. It had been an incredible rush to make money selling my own stuff. I enjoyed making the frames of course, but it was also fun for me to shop for the best deal on supplies and develop faster assembly processes. I considered this just a blip though and was excited to start focusing on college. I couldn't recognize at 18 that I had found my future career already because I was still so focused on my main goal: that tall building & that tailored suit.
After all, the film industry was waiting for me.
to be continued...read part three here.