5 “Business” Failures that Led to 1 Success
For the first time in my life, I am going to complete a project. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, an insane drive to create, and an awesome support system has always been my recipe for disaster.
My first business epiphany that I pursued came out of a 3 day road trip with my friend Alex as we drove from Florida to California. After some sleepless nights and long talks, over 20 hours in car with a fellow entrepreneur birthed Bandit List; a one stop shop that delivers VIP access to clubs and bars, lists local drink specials of the week, and offers a wristband that provides a “members only” discount. After $700 to China, 1,000 wristbands, and a half completed website — Bandit List was donezo.
Realizations: Create a business plan, not just a cool logo, general pitch and name.
Money wasted: $700
Time wasted: 1 year
A few years later, my grandfather died of complications related to Alzheimer's Disease. From that sparked Memory Flip — a flip book of a 60 second video of a beloved family member, fun adventure, or pet. I researched how to break videos down into photo frames, printed it out, and created my first flip book. I researched how to collect videos and started a Facebook page. That was the end of that.
Realizations: Act like a person and understand the difference between a business and being crafty.
Money wasted: $25
Time wasted: 2 months
I got to meet Flava Flav! Team Grey Area sparked from three twenty something girls who liked to party, a man high on bath salts who literally ate another human being, and my crazy need to create. We had two types of shirts for sale; a white shirt with red letters that said “Whose face do I have to eat to get a drink around here,” and a black shirt that red “MadWoman” in red (as the “Mad Men” show was pretty popular at the time). Andrea and Katie were the first people I’ve worked with who were as crazy passionate as I was. Andrea is a expert designer living in New York City, Katie is an actress/model/biggest hustler I know living in LA, and I was the one who pushed it all. At the time, we all lived in Hollywood, FL close to both Miami and celebrities. We held photo shoots with Andrea’s sexy friends, had Betty from the cast of Mad Men tweeting us asking for a shirt, comedians were tweeting our shirts, and we were living the high life. We had 500 shirts printed and were selling them online using bigcartel.com. We once went to Miami Art Walk in Wynwood and literally set up a table on the side of the street selling our shirts. Shortly after, we headed to the American Airlines Arena for the NBA championship game — and the Miami Heat won as soon as we parked the car. The heat’s color’s were red and white, our shirts were red and white, and the man who was high on bath salts who ate the other man was a very hot topic in Miami. This is the first time someone gave me money for my idea. That night was also the last time anyone ever gave Team Grey Area money. After the big event we announced publicly that we would pay a portion of the proceeds to the man in the hospital who had his face eaten. I still have many shirts left, and the man never received charity from us as there was never another sale.
Realizations: Be comfortable walking up to strangers and engaging them with your brand. Networking and talking to strangers is a skill you must build. Also, have some kind of stinkin’ long term goal!
Money wasted: $700
Time wasted: 1 year — those were good times.
Two of my instagram photos were chosen to be on display in a gallery in NYC. This sparked “12x12 photos.” A photo contest I ran online. From my other failed ideas, I learned how to engage others through social media, set up a website, and sell a product. This idea was less about making money and more about engaging an audience. I had a site, photos for sale, and a pretty strong engagement — but again, nothing came out of it.
Realizations: An engaging social media presence is important.
Money wasted: $100
Time wasted: 2 months
A few months later at my partner’s parents’ house, I stumbled upon empty glass bottles, a package of bath salts, and some corks. I know what you are thinking, bath salts again? No. Well, yes. It turns out my partner’s mother made bridal shower “message in a bottle” gifts for her daughter-in-law. A few conversations and a few hundred bucks later, our business “Tradewind Memories” was up and running on squarespace.com. We were on our way to organizing and setting up our business plan. A few sales followed by a slow in sales led us to close up for the time being.
Realizations: Build out a communications plan. Without it, you are nothing.
Time wasted: 5 months
Money wasted: $300
I am calling my most recent project, Stores For Love, a success. Success means different things to different people, so I am going to list the elements of what makes this project truly successful to me thus far by taking all of my findings from the past and sharing what seems to be working for me now:
- Learn to build an engaging social media presence
- Build out a communications plan
- Have a hip and creative logo on which others will want to comment
- Be comfortable walking up to strangers and engaging them with your brand
- Find true joy in what you do, feel empowered every time you walk away from a conversation
- Do it because you love it, not because you want to make money from it
Stories for Love was created out of honesty. My goal with this project is to both empower and build acceptance for the global LGBTQA community. I engage with strangers, explain my mission, snap a photo, have a conversation, post their photo and caption, and move on to the next. In a mere 3 months of doing this, I have learned:
- The older truly have a lot to contribute when it comes to the topic of LGBTQA
- There is something to learn from everyone
- The LGBTQA community still has a long way to go, and we can not forget that. Before changing out of your work clothes and heading out for a dance or drink — know that there is more work to do and that your story can truly positively impact someone’s life. Research local LGBTQA meetups and groups and attend — it can not only help others, but also help you be more comfortable in your own skin.
- I finally found something that I have created that has the potential to make a positive impact on the world
Stay tuned for updates as I will continue to share progress☺