There are many reasons for nurturing a community. Back in the day, when my life was the usual 9 to “whenever I was done,” it seemed like an exhausting burden, not something to be enjoyed but I was committed, determined and wanted to fit in somewhere, anywhere. Young and dumb is what I blame it on, lost and a little confused too, as to what exactly my role was at the time. It is not a popular place to be. In addition to that, seeing first hand how an outsider in a new community can naturally feel out of place made me unconsciously focus on stupid stuff, wasteful stuff and what everyone else thought of the new kid on the block - just dumb.
Feeling all of this was one of the reasons why in my business plan, aside from product, creating a community was very important. Happiness I realized within a company is dependent on the ability to navigate various dimensions. Small business especially because we wear so many hats - it is multi-dimensional but creating a community and building relationships is what is loved most here.
My mantra, “just be,” puts the well-being of employees and customers at the center of this company's mission, along with values, culture and decision-making logic. There is a direct relationship between happiness and creativity, innovative ideas, career advancement, authenticity, broad views and beyond. Building this community has been the backbone of this business, no matter how I slice it in the end, it’s not about me but the community. And it demands a lot of love from everyone involved - not always an easy task.
Over the last 18 month or so I can’t even begin to tell you all of the Covid related setbacks, from being closed down for 3 months then open with crazy restrictions of only being able to serve people curbside, to employes with Covid, me with Covid, to supplies not being available (and this is still the case), to a massive shortage of help, honestly I have no idea how retailers aren’t all in one large group therapy session - this hasn’t been a day at the beach!
The “just be,” culture and community are closely linked. While culture is created and maintained by my company, the community is how culture continues. People can come and go, and that's okay. If everything is authentic and built with consideration, it is my belief that we will all have a sense of belonging and understanding that we are part of something bigger than this business. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about for small business? Building, growing, learning and just being.