A Small Shop Boss’s Gratitude

November brings with it cooler weather, leaves of gold and the feeling of thanks in the air. It’s the perfect time to begin a practice of gratitude. You Know Neen is hosting the 2nd Annual 30 Days of Gratitude blog series, a place where the experience of gratitude will be explored and shared. I, along with several other contributors will be sharing our thoughts on all things gratitude. 

Written By: Lauren Lichtenstein

The kind of gratitude I’m writing about is a kind I’ll call “surprise gratitude”. The kind of joy I get when I realize I was really wrong about something initially, and am so pleasantly surprised with the outcome that I then feel really grateful. A sort of bewildered, giddy, gratefulness.

14702283_613508742164831_6998528246911851122_nI’m in my first year of a new business.  It’s a small business, what’s known as a “small shop” when you hear people say they “shop small”.  It means that I make my product by hand with love and a summoning of every particle of artistic ability I have.

But it’s also a lonely business.  I sit by myself in my home studio and paint shoes. I have podcasts (This American Life) to keep me company, but as much as I know deep in my heart that Ira Glass and I are best friends, he doesn’t know it …. yet.

So mainly it’s just me, Ira Glass and my Instagram feed. My lovely, perfectly timed, very thought out Instagram feed.

When I first started my business I was approached by people who wanted to “introduce me” to other small shops.  “Why?!” I thought. “They’ll steal business and I want to work alone!” I wanted all successes and failures to be my own. And I really do like being alone with my thoughts and my work.

And then I made a small shop Instagram friend. And that lead into an Instagram door that opened up like Narnia.  But instead of a snowy land with a half man half goat,  I found actual friendships and relationships.  This is when I realized that I was very very wrong.

I have a new community of small shop friends. Imagine co-workers who you have never met, who each has her own business, but you can ask each other questions, help each other out and never feel threatened by their awesomeness.  This community has taken my business in new directions, challenged me in the best possible way, and one friend has taken me under her wing and brought me into her group of friends just because she rocks.

I’ve had “collabs” (Instagram for Collaborations with other blogs or brands,) met the cutest and screen-shot-2015-12-03-at-12-07-31-pmmost stylish team of “reps” (Instagram for amazing people who love small shops and take gorgeous photos in exchange for a small discount,) and formed groups of friends throughout the small shop world.  We comment on each other’s pics, purchase each other’s stunning handmade outfits (check out my kids’ amazing new wardrobe,) and have been a part of local small shop dinners (a big table full of creative people!)

I’m grateful for these connections because I never saw this coming! It is both the friendships and the surprise that I am grateful for. A double gratitude.  And then I’m grateful one more time for the joy that this gratitude brings me.

Lauren Lichtenstein is the creator and owner of LO+CO Custom Sneaks. Take a look at her amazing kicks here! Follow LO + CO via Instagram and Facebook


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