There is something to be said for honesty. What exactly I’m not sure. Personally I thoroughly appreciate it. I think it often gets misconstrued for truth or something absolute. Honestly, I think it may be truth on occasion and is not always absolute. I think it’s our perspective without the rose colored lens, the filter, the synthesized compilation of a belief that we’ve amassed through the thoughts of others.
So, it was refreshing when I sat down in a small Japanese restaurant on Sutter Street in downtown San Francisco with a fellow entrepreneur and talked…honestly. The last time we did so was the year prior and we grabbed food and went to the Giants baseball game. The same Giants that would later win the World Series (I like to think my being at the game that got them to the series had something to do with that.) A lot had happened in both of our lives since then however. Things picked up for her as a freelance cinematographer. She was navigating dating and other personal relationships. Family dynamics changed.
“So what about Phreedum?” she asked.
“It’s going pretty well. I’ve taken a bit of a break in terms of pushing sales and have really focused on the blog and relationship building with other entrepreneurs. In the new year it will be back to pushing sales,” I shared.
“Oh ok. Cool. You know I never really pay much attention to the whole ‘start new with the New Year’ thing. I think you just start again whenever you need to.”
She had a point I thought. And then I thought some more.
“Okay, well honestly, it wasn’t about the new year. It was about me feeling like me and my business (Phreedum) were incongruent. I didn’t feel free so I didn’t know how I was supposed to develop something I was lacking. I was feeling trapped. I stopped with the designs and the sales so I could figure out me. The core parts of Ahyana. I decided I wanted to define me in 7 words. I wanted to take time I just find me in 7 words. Those 7 words would be the basis for 7 new designs. Whenever the designs were finished, I’d go back to printing and sales pumping.”
Let me exercise my phreedum to be real honest for a moment.
I can count on my hands how many shirts I’ve sold this year. Yeah, and I only have ten of those. I can count on my hand how many new sales partnerships/collaborations I’ve had this year. I can count on my hands and toes how many times I thought about shutting Phreedum down altogether, no designs, apparel, blog, collaborations, nothing. I got twenty of those.
Phreedum wasn’t working for me. There were no amounts of ideas from fellow entrepreneurs, articles read in Forbes or Entrepreneurial magazines, workshops attended that were hosted by groups like the Empowerment Group that was going to help me “make Phreedum work”. Phreedum wasn’t working because I was not phree. The Ahyana who started the company in 2008 was not the same Ahyana in 2011. Don’t get me wrong. Change happens, is necessary, and can be good. But I’m not talking about “change.” I’m talking about a conflict that occurred because I wasn’t being honest with and to myself, and Phreedum while it’s for the masses, is also about me.
So I pulled the plug and decided to go back to what I originally wanted Phreedum to be. I dug out the pink faux croc journal I bought and its black lined pages chronicled the early stages of Phreedum. I read and re- read the pages of drafts of the name and its spelling, the vision, the mission, rough sketches of designs, quotes and phrases that inspired designs.
Then I went back to me. I pulled out another journal that had my personal vision and mission statement and chronicled my own personal struggles, desires, and goals. Who was I and how was I living the phree life?
While I will admit I am a lot of things, I wanted to create something succinct in terms of who I am as it pertains to Phreedum. I didn’t want a formal statement however. No paragraphs, not even a sentence. I just wanted words. I was committed to figuring out those core aspects of myself before I could feel phree and thus return to Phreedum. So I did just that. I came up with the words and the designs and in the coming months you will read and see and be able to wear if you so desire more about my personal process and understanding of phreedum.
Lest I sound like I am rambling, there is a point to this post. And this is what it is- in the words of William Shakespeare “To thine own self be true.” Being open-minded is great. Feedback and constructive criticism are awesome. Exploration and exposure are necessary. However, at the end of the day, you can’t lose you in the process or the progress. You’ve got to stay grounded. Tree branches sway with the winds, not tree trunks.
Wherever you are on your journey, just make sure you exercise your phreedum to be honest and to be true to yourself. Exercise your phreedum to disagree, to step back, to hit pause. Exercise your phreedum to start again whenever you need to, even if that’s right now.