Monday, April 19, 2010

Passionless Fashion

Something wasn’t sitting right with me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. A wee bit of a sick stomach, an unsettling feeling in my bones. I should be rather ecstatic, an opportunity landed in my lap that couldn’t seem more timely or convenient. A thriving business with a lease option. The owner had hand picked me thinking I might be the perfect person to take over for her, now that she was feeling tired and was busy visualizing a life of retirement (gardening) in her head. Ah, a business of my own. But do I really want a business of my own? Would I want to own a Stanley Steemer franchise, or a Kinko’s? I don’t think so. I don’t want just any business. What I am really seeking is passion.

I wanted to like it. I worked the last week with the owner and really tried to like it. Retail. I’m feeling bored already with ladies and clothing, and for the few really sweet women whom were so thankful when I helped them pick out an outfit or two, there were many more of the “I look so fat”, “I’m too old to wear this“, “Oh God, this color washes me out”, blah, blah. Ladies you are boring me. Yes, of course there would be those “fun” shopping trips to L.A. to look forward to, but truthfully the only positive I can see to that would be that I would get to stop in at Pinkberry for my original tart yogurt with strawberries. Clothing. I am not a fashionista. I wear jeans, black turtlenecks and boots. Even in the summer. Well, I lose the turtlenecks (trade them in for a Gap black tee) but still wear the boots. I like jackets. I like shoes. My own. Not other peoples.

So I was home thinking about the situation and wondering how I came to feel that I had initiated this and now felt that somehow I was betraying her or letting her down for not “loving” the business. I have to remember she came to me. She asked me to try. And I said I would. I have tried. And as Jackson Browne said, “Never should have had to try so hard to make a love work out.”  I guess.

So, in a desperate move, before bed last night I got on Craigslist. I sent inquires to every business that I thought I had even a remote interest in. A bagel shop in Hyannis, another coffee house in Portland, a cafe/bakery partnership in Portland, please please please, somebody respond to my emails! As I climbed into my bed, nudged the cat over to one side, and made myself comfortable, I asked the universe for guidance. Give me some clarity please. When I wake up give me a sign, let me know just one thing for sure.

I woke up fuzzy and more confused than ever. No responses to any of my late night emails and I had had a couple of disturbing dreams on top of that. I need my coffee. A shower. More coffee.

Out the door and into my car, we headed off as if on auto pilot for the County Planning Department. I found a parking space right out front and walked in like I owned the place. I stopped in at the Environmental Department and talked with a very helpful woman about my last experience there and how frustrating it was. I asked her about a couple of different approaches I might take and she actually gave me some tips I might be able to use to persuade the Health Department to let me open the “Open air kiosk” at the winery.

Now with a bounce in my step that I haven’t felt in awhile I went up to the 2nd Floor to visit the Planning Department. While waiting my turn for the next available Planner, I was approached by a gentleman who asked if I was waiting to be helped and when I said “yes” he offered to help me. Well, as luck would have it, he was the Director of the Planning Commission. I subjected him to the same rants and complaints I shared with the clerk at the Health Department and he was extremely sympathetic and went out of his way to help me. He spent over an hour with me, loved the whole concept of the “coffee in the warehouse” concept, and said it was the most creative use of that space he had heard of. He said dealing with the county would be difficult, an uphill battle, but told me not to give up. He gave me names of people that could advise me and he offered to help in anyway he could.

I felt excited again. This is how I know it is the right thing. This coffee thing. When I think about it, talk about, dream about, I feel alive. I don’t care what I am wearing. I start visualizing the steam from the frothing milk, the orange poppyseed bread as I thickly slice and wrap it, the French macaroons that will take me several attempts to get right and my sister’s salted caramels in their raffia tied cellophane bags on the counter for sale. These are the wares that inspire me.
Afterwards I was driving (seems I am always driving) and the sky was completely covered with clouds. There was one small opening in the clouds where the sky was a brilliant blue. The opening wasn’t a smooth round circle, it was more jagged and rough around the edges. Another sign. It was an opening, it might scrape me up a bit as I squeeze through, but I can fit. I can get through this time.

I will tell her tomorrow, I am not interested in leasing her store. I have no passion for it. You can’t fake passion. And without passion the business will die.

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