I used to be a day camp counselor during the summers in my 20s, and at the end of each week, we’d do a talking stick circle. Every kid took turns with the stick, naming their low point of the week at camp, and following up with their high point. I’m going to do the same here with this essay: start with a low and end on a high.
Mid-February through mid-April of 2017 were the darkest days of my life. It was the deepest depression I’d ever experienced, and it came on the heels of a period of burnout. Every day it seemed like my life was getting worse and worse, and every solution I thought was The Answer made my material conditions even worse. My chest felt like a bottomless pit, and I cried every day. I felt like I had nothing left to give… except for the creative visions that never left me. So one day I decided to use my creativity in an entrepreneurial way.
I had seen people selling their designs on platforms like BigCartel and Etsy, and for years I’d had all kinds of design and slogan ideas floating around in my brain. The thought that came to me was “Why not me?” I felt like I had to do SOMEthing; why not use these visions I’d been having to get me out of this deadly rut? So I signed up for Redbubble, designed a mug, and shared it on Facebook. And whaddya know, a couple friends liked it enough to make a purchase! Another friend mentioned that I might want to look into selling on Society6, so I looked into them, and for reasons that I don’t remember, I made the switch.
After a couple of months, I’d gotten out of that black hole with the help of God, a therapist, and the determination to make it big with my designs, but Society6 couldn’t really accommodate the larger ideas I had. That fall, I did some research and came up on an article about how to set up a t-shirt business on Shopify, and why one might do so. After some weeks of contemplation, I went for it, signed up, went through the steps of connecting with Printful - a great print-on-demand company that enables creative-preneurs - and voila!
One of my earliest designs was the WWGJD? crop top.
There are several highlights I’ve experienced since launching my online merch collections. Such as going semi-viral when Peaches re-posted me wearing my “ICONIQUE” unisex v-neck list tee on Instagram, and for a solid week I was slammed with orders.
There was also the time I caused a minor kerfluffle with my “White Discomfort” mug. The girls that get it, get it, and the girls that don’t get really mad. And I don’t care. :-)
I love to create, and I love to share, and I’ve been spending the past two months working on a strategy to expand and grow my “For The Culture” and “For The Counterculture” collections. And then I had a career coaching session that completely changed everything: my coach for the day opened my eyes to the fact that, for my growth as a singer, model, actress, I was going to have to let go of my entire merch strategy that I'd spent so many hours building this year.
I sat with this for a few days before it dawned on me why this was the right thing to do: these very designs, that I share with all joy and goodwill, are nevertheless anchored to a dark part of my past that is no longer who I am. And if I’m going to get to where I’m going, they can’t come with me.
Y’all, I cried. But they were tears of joy and thanksgiving. Some sadness, yes. A little grieving. But mostly tears of relief. Because at this point in my life, having experienced so many periods of laying things to rest, I’ve got practice at this. I’m good at this.
I let go of these collections with gratefulness and love.
Just the act of creating and sharing these items pulled me out of such a dark place, and reminded me of who I am and what I'm capable of. It reminded me that anything is possible, that I have good ideas that resonate with people, and that I am not a defective human nor an utter failure.
I'm grateful that I gave these collections all I could muster these past 6 years. My soul needed this. And now I'm sitting with the understanding that it's time to move into greater things and show up as an even more evolved version of myself, and it’s okay that this part of me ends its journey now.
If any of these garments, any of these designs, any of these ideas of mine have ever struck a chord with you, you are welcome and free to order some for yourself or for others this holiday season, but at 5:00 pm Pacific on December 30th, these collections will be closed out indefinitely.
There may come a point where I bring back the merch table in a different way. In the meantime, I lovingly let go of these collections to make space for my music and acting career, and whatever else good thing is next for me. Thank you for riding with me and riding with this. I do not take your support for granted, and I don’t have a single regret.
|I'm a one-woman circus and the world's most passionate Grace Jones stan. Everything about your planet confounds me, except cats. Book me: hritalent.com|