My first business venture of note was launched from the dusty wooden floor of my 3rd floor apartment at 17th and Pine Street.
I’d walk around to all of the indie record stores in Philly, magnificent places like 3rd Street Music that have long since been shuttered, to tape up fliers for the hardcore rock shows I’d booked in church basements and West Philly flop houses. If you were into underground rock music and lived in the city during the mid-to-late 90’s, you probably know the very places I’m talking about.
Later, I’d ditch the tough sledding of the live music industry to start a record label with the, ahem, help of Capital One and Discover Card. I didn’t have a business plan, just a pile of debt to someday repay. But the music, man. The music.
Fast forward twenty years.
Music is still a huge part of my life (heck, I even still book shows! Check out my Kidchella Summer Concert Series at the Smith Memorial Playground) but my music biz debts have long since been settled.
Today, my primary job is being a dad of two daughters, but I’ve carved out a few side hustles for myself too. These are no less creative pursuits but substantially more sensible and well thought out. I’m also armed with something more powerful than a $3000 credit limit: the wisdom of experience and most importantly, the gift of failure.
With the help of a laptop, self-publishing platforms, social media channels, a camera and, most importantly, a wife who has remained gainfully employed throughout, I am an independent dad-centric entrepreneur in a constantly shifting freelancer world.
Late last month, my teen and tween daughters took the plunge into the world of business too, by way of an Etsy shop.
There is no revolving debt and little at risk, save for their time that could be spent reading more books or hours watching favorite shows on Netflix and a few hundred dollars of their own seed money spent on charms, fishhooks, a domain name, and padded envelopes. Still, what these two kids are doing is without a doubt an entrepreneurial endeavor.
I’m trying to nurture their entrepreneurship as best I can, to share the knowledge I’ve gained by starting my own businesses, working in the corporate world and navigating social media marketing, without stepping on their toes or throwing down a soft blanket to brace a fall.
Thanks to us working together on a series of educational stories for PBS Parents over the past few years (including this business start-up math activity), my girls and I have been in the position to discuss economics, supply chain, assembly lines, marketing, quality control and work ethic. Now, thanks to their new business venture, these topics are being crystalized daily. Their elegant handmade earrings on their Etsy shop have opened up a myriad of real life conversations where once they were only theoretical.
In the weeks since opening their Easy shop and selling several pairs of earrings, I’ve had friends namecheck Kendra Scott and other prominent female entrepreneurs. That’s flattering to hear and fun to consider the possibilities, however pie in the sky they might be, but my goals as their dad and the #1 fan of these two talented young entrepreneurs remain simply to teach, to ground in a sense of reality yet also inspire, to encourage action over idle dreaming, and maybe first and foremost, to help them price their earrings correctly to turn a respectful profit so that they can invest back into their business.
Then and only then will we all see if I’ve got the next Kendra Scott living in my house.