Deep Thoughts on Entrepreneurship and How It Really Affects Your Personal Life

Sierra Bailey, designer and owner of Manic Trout jewelry in her studio.
My happy place

I started Manic Trout in January of 2003. For years, I worked full time as well so I could put all of the income from the business back into it. In 2011, I moved to Austin, TX and took the leap to full time and have been enjoying solid growth since the move. Since 2003, besides building the company, I have gone through a divorce, progressed in my other career to the top position in the field, moved across the country, got married and mothered two dogs. I have been slowly growing the business on a solid foundation with a loyal customer base. There are my deep thoughts on how being an entrepreneur has affected my personal life…

1. Marriage: You should probably feel bad for anyone married to an entrepreneur. Not really kidding on that one. Having the demise of a marriage behind me, I had learned a few hard life lessons by the time I met Adam. Within the first 3 weeks I told him that 1. Manic Trout would always be #1 and 2. That I did not want kids because of that. Not the nicest thing to say, but it was honest. It has not made dealing with my long hours, devotion to work and all the craziness that building a business entails any easier, he just accepted that he was agreeing to this from the beginning. I can’t personally imagine if we were both entrepreneurs. The fluctuating income alone would drive us crazy, but on the flip side, not being married to another entrepreneur means that he really doesn’t get it a lot. Bless his heart he tries though and thats why it works for us. I enjoy being married to someone who loves the corporate life because the steadier aspect of his job helps even out a lot of potential high stress areas, such as guaranteeing that we have health insurance. I think Adam really enjoys experiencing with me the crazy highs…when my work is in a big magazine or in a music video, getting a huge new wholesale account, being contacted and admired by big companies/people, seeing how excited customers are about the jewelry…that become his good news too. He also understands the lows…the days I don’t leave the studio except to sleep, the overwhelmed moments, the rejection (there is SO MUCH possibility for rejection in entrepreneurship), the failures…all the bad moments that I sometimes want to talk about over and over and sometimes don’t want to talk about at all. He has to deal with everything I experience, sometimes both in one day, sometimes involving a lot of emotion. It’s a lot for a spouse to take on, but so are many other things in life.

2. Children: Without getting too much into this topic, I will just say that I personally decided years ago that I really enjoy working all the time. I would most likely resent anyone who prevented me from doing this and therefore felt it was not fair to have a child with this mind set. I know plenty of entrepreneurs with kids who juggle it like a champ. I however felt I had to make a choice, and I made it, it’s my path in life, no regrets. As I said above, I was open with my husband about this when we met, so no surprises there. My mom has 3 more daughters, so she seems to accept it. My dad is back and forth between understanding it and being really bummed that his linage dies with me. It is what it is.

3. Parents: My dad is an entrepreneur, actually his dad is as well and my my moms dad was too.  My mom followed her dream for her profession. I grew up with parents who worked all the time but really enjoyed what they did and encouraged me to live out my wildest dreams. From a very young age on, my dream was to be a designer. The type of designer changed back and forth over the years, but I sold scrunchies to the public at a summer festival in my dads town the summer I was 8 so I think he saw it coming. My mom has gone waffled over the years of wanting me to have I’m sure less stress and has herself stressed a great deal about “my potential”. She still has moments every now and then where she calls me and tells me that she wished she had pushed me into science at a young age instead of letting the pull of the arts draw me in. There were the years she insisted I should be the CEO of a fortune 500 company…which one was up to me. There was a phase when she thought I would be great as a general in the military. The most recent phase was that I should go back to school and become a surgeon, plastics or neuro…up to me which one. Yeah. Sometimes I think that what she envisioned for her oldest child who was in the gifted program with a very high IQ is a bit different than what happened, but it doesn’t maker her less proud or happy for me. I actually just read a great open letter to parent of entrepreneurs over at Inc., its really all very true.

4. Siblings: I am the oldest of 4 girls. There is 16 years between myself and the youngest and 2 exactly in the middle. We are all really living our dreams through our work which is pretty amazing. My 2 younger sisters tell me often that I have been an amazing role model to them and that just means more to me than anything. All 4 of us work crazy hours, although the youngest is a Millennial, so she is much more into the work/life balance than the other 3 of us, as one would expect. I am lucky to be really close to all of my sisters, they are the ones I turn to when the days are rough and when the awesome things are happening. You need a strong support group if you choose the life of entrepreneurship, and they have done that in spades. Thea (my youngest sister) has worked by my side countless times over the years and now works for a jewelry company while in school. Its not the profession that she plans on going into, but she enjoyed working with me enough that she sought it out as an adult. I’m just sad she lives so far away so it’s someone else and not me!

5. Friends: As an adult, most of my friends are fellow entrepreneurs. They’re my tribe. They also have schedules like mine so they are free for lunch at random times. But truthfully, there is no better feeling than sitting at a table with a group of people you feel not only get you, but go through the same struggles as you do. We all end up talking about work 90% of the time and it’s awesome. I do have to add though that it is equally important to have friends who are not entrepreneurs, because sometimes you need to step away from work and talk about things that have nothing to do with work. Just like taking vacations. It rejuvenates you. I try and have a couple of lunches each week with friends, no matter what we talk about, I always leave the afternoon feeling wonderful. Being mostly alone in my studio all the time, it’s necessary for my sanity.

 

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My birthday at the rodeo!

At Rodeo Austin

I celebrated a birthday on Sunday and Adam surprised me with tickets to Rodeo Austin. It was a great idea on his part, as I have been bugging him to go for 3 years. I have been to rodeos in NY, but this was my first Texas rodeo, and as you can imagine, it was an entirely different beast. First of all, if you tell people on Austin that you went to the rodeo, they ask what band you saw. That’s the first and only question. I found this incredibly odd as we didn’t even stay for the band, but also because who goes to a rodeo to not watch cowboys???

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The second glaring difference is that when you get to the rodeo, you first encounter a carnival and then a mini fair…complete with pig races and livestock judging. As we had not been before, Adam wanted to make sure we had time to do and see everything before the 3pm rodeo, so we arrived at about 11. Next time I think I’ll be good with getting to the grounds at 2:30 and going immediately into the grandstand. Being at the fair so early in the day did however make it possible to enjoy a donut for breakfast and cotton candy for lunch. This was followed at home by cake for dinner and cookies for dessert…a birthday well played in my opinion!

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Admittedly, I think we had as much fun dressing for the rodeo than we did going to it. Kidding! The rodeo itself was wonderful, and we were lucky to be upgraded to 2nd row seats about 20 minutes in. We were even hit with dirt flinging off of hooves as the barrel racing girls tore around the barrel in front of our seats. The little kids riding sheep was perhaps one of the highlights, but tied neck and neck with the bull riders. I can’t wait to go back next year!

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My luck ran out with my wisdom teeth

My lopsided self on Saturday
My lopsided self on Saturday

I hate going the dentist…as most of us do. Fortunately, I have had a good run of luck for 38 years with very strong and healthy teeth, so the only trauma I have had to endure in my visits was 1 cavity about a decade ago. I however have been waiting, terrified for 2 things to happen. First, I have 4 baby teeth still. Its like I’m a medical marvel to the dentist world and every time I see a new dentist they get really excited when they realize that I have not lost them yet. Then they bum me out by reminding me that I will indeed loose them as their roots are so little. When that day comes, I will have to get implants because they are not between molars. I fear that day so very much as it will cost a fortune and be a long and painful process.

Second, I still have all 4 wisdom teeth and 1 of these is partially erupted (like an iceberg in my gum). Due to my anxious pleading, dentists have let me get away with not getting them removed as none them have bothered me yet, but they have made it clear that one day, that peeking out tooth would become infected.

Well the day of my second fear crept up on me and then threw a party. As I fell asleep thursday night, I felt a little discomfort back there and by Friday morning knew something was wrong as my gums were swelling. I called my dentist (who for some odd reason, is not open on Fridays) and scheduled an appointment asap, which finally happening tomorrow morning. The receptionist told me to gargle salt water and take advil…both of which I was already doing, thank you google. Saturday morning, I woke up early for my first day of attending panels at SXSW and the entire lower side of my face was swollen (see above for proof) and hot and I felt like I might have a fever. Worst timing ever, tooth!! So I did a quick google search and it seemed like an infection caused by the peeking out wisdom tooth had rapidly spread and that if it got into my jaw, I could die. So I woke up Adam and made him take me to the ER up the street. Thankfully as we live about 8 minutes from downtown and it was early on a Saturday morning, so I was in and out of there in 20 minutes after getting a prescription and promising the DR that I had an appointment to get the tooth extracted asap.

The interesting thing is that when I told the doctor about my penicillin allergy, he asked about all the details and long story short, I am no longer allergic to it! About 25% of people who have been allergic to penicillin in the past, grow out of it. This was great news as even though I have not been on antibiotics since I was 19, its just not a great allergy to have. The pharmacist was TERRIFIED to let me have my prescription though, I had to show her all my paperwork and promise her that I took the first dose in the ER and all was fine. I mean she was totally legit in feeling this way, I don’t blame her!

So more happy selfies for me
So more happy selfies for me

So now, Monday evening, most of the swelling has gone down but my gums are still killing me. I’m crossing my fingers that the extraction can be done tomorrow in the office during my appointment because this just needs to be over. I however do not regret that I never had them removed when I was younger. There are more benefits to having it done in my late 30’s as opposed to early 20’s. Reason 1: I have a husband who will wait on me in my pathetic post oral nightmare and reason 2: dental insurance. I do want to note that its kind of odd because I don’t have actual tooth pain, its all gums/cheek which is where the infection is. So eating is not a problem…its kind of like a headache in my mouth.

Think happy thoughts for me tomorrow!

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Being a guest on a TV show

Sierra Bailey of Manic Trout on Studio 512, kxan
Photo of the TV while watching myself on it…how could I not do that?

Friday was an exciting day, I was invited to be a guest on studio 512, a lifestyle show here in Austin on KXAN (NBC) hosted by Amanda Tatom. It was for an episode of favorite things, and my jewelry was Amanda’s favorite things, so I thought the best thing to do was to debut the FW14 Collection right there on TV, it was so much fun! I’ll admit that one of the highlights was that John Lewis, who’s barbecue I recently gushed about was also on the show. This meant that I not only ate La Barbecue after filming, but was taking celeb crush selfies with him in the green room before we started taping.

Sierra Bailey of Manic Trout on Studio 512, kxan
Waiting off camera and watching John dish barbecue secrets with Amanda.

 The show is taped live to tape, which meant that I would be able to watch the show when it aired not long after we wrapped up. I was in the last segment and was off to lunch with my friend Michele. I made it to her house just in time to see the show which included a once in a lifetime moment when her husband walked in and saw me on the tv, while sitting on the couch in the same thing I was wearing while on tv and had a look of complete confusion for a few moments, it was great…but maybe you had to be there.

Sierra Bailey of Manic Trout on Studio 512, kxan
During the show, taken off set.

Two things should be noted here. One, that I finally realized I need to wear heels when standing next to women in important photos/on tv, because they will be wearing heels. Two that I’m wearing 4″ heels with a stacked toe here and am still a foot shorter than Amanda.

Sierra Bailey of Manic Trout on Studio 512, kxan
Goofing around on the kxan set, just because we can.

Cisco and the rest of the crew for the show were wonderful to work with and really made it a delight to be on the show. We were encouraged to pose on the news set and have our photos taken just for fun. I texted Adam this photo and he sent to people telling them I had a new job, and they believed him, ha!!

Back at home after all the fun, requisite selfie as I loved what I wore. It was Faye approved.
Back at home after all the fun, requisite selfie as I loved what I wore. It was Faye approved.

As I was asked a few times, outfit details: Kate Spade New York dress from Nordstrom (I love that they tailor on site, which they did for me super fast), Gucci shoes from Neiman Marcus, Manic Trout necklace, earrings and ring (not shown) from www.manictrout.com.

You can watch the video below (or if its not working correctly, watch it on the Studio512 site.)

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Deep thoughts on eloping

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Our wedding night, October 11, 2012 (yes, our wedding date is 10.11.12!)

We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. — Dr. Seuss

One year ago today, Adam and I eloped. 6 months before that, we had been in the mist of planning a wedding that was getting out of control. So we toned it down and tried to plan something much more low key.  That was becoming impossible as well, so finally we threw up our hands and decided to elope. We wanted to just go down to city hall, but in Texas you can’t do that. We would have had to make an appointment with a judge and have it in a room in the building which seemed pretty lame, so we decided to go to dinner instead.

Nothing fancy, we simply went to the restaurant where we first met and our friends Erin who was ordained, her husband Dave and Steve who is a photog joined us. The idea for photos came to us that morning as we were shopping downtown for our wedding outfits, Adam at By George and me at Anthropologie (big shocker there). Thankfully, Steve was able to join us to provide the only traditional aspect of the wedding and he took photos of us before dinner on the exact spot we met. Between the entree and dessert I read the above quote off of a pink post it note and we were pronounced married. Our waiter realized that we had wedding bombed the restaurant at this point and a very pretty pieces of cake with Congratulations on it in chocolate was sent out for dessert. And that was that.

Full disclosure, I had a very large, dream wedding 10 years before this and after having it both ways will hands down recommend eloping to anyone and everyone who will listen. These are my deep thoughts on why…

1. When you each have two sets of parents and more siblings between you than you can count on one hand, there is no such thing as a simple wedding.

2. A huge and expensive party has nothing to do with a marriage.*

3. When you’re in your mid or late 20’s there seems to much more time in one’s schedule to meet with wedding planners and get all wedding-y. In your mid 30’s it starts to just add to the huge pile of work in your day.

4. It’s greatly depressing to wear a beautiful gown only once and then stick it in storage (I still have a gorgeous Vera Wang gown from 2002 preserved in a box at my moms house if you’d like proof)**

5. Ok, there is one down side…no registry. Or gifts at all. Your family and friends may feel a bit slighted at not being invited so they will not run out and buy you toasters and plates. However, with all the money you saved on a wedding, you can buy them yourselves!

6. Better yet, you can use the money that would go to a party celebrating your marriage with things to start your marriage…like furniture!

7. All said and done, we spent about 6 stress free hours in the entire wedding process. Can I get a hallelujah? ***

8. Even with wedding planners, there were weekly meetings, countless emails, phone calls and pinterest board sharing. Owning a small business (doing what I love), I was annoyed at the amount of time all of this took. Adam hated it too. We ended up fighting after every single wedding planer meeting.

9. You avoid all family drama that comes up when a wedding is in sight.****

10. The bigger your families, the more feelings might be hurt by eloping…by at the same time, the bigger the wedding would have to be to include them all, so the bigger the savings of time, money and stress to be had.

Oh and one last thing…

Happy Anniversary Adam, it’s been an amazing year!!

 

*you can always have the party anyway after you elope. As soon as you stop calling it a wedding it becomes infinitely less stressful and cheaper.

**the cost to clean and preserve the gown was the same amount as the dress I eloped in (which I have now worn multiple times). I felt equally beautiful in both.

***the next day we went to ACL and I got to dance the night away to The Black Keys which in itself was EPIC and made for the most amazing post elopement celebration ever!!

****don’t even try to deny what a doozy that one could be!

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Post design thoughts on designing a collection

I have been thinking a lot about what keeping a sketchbook means to me these days, be it actually in books or the blog version you’re reading right now. I record what inspires me, ideas for jewelry and plans for many aspects of the business, but I am not great about reflecting on what I have designs once it’s done. Does anyone though? That’s a serious question. I have been finding myself asking why I wanted to create something after I did it. What compels me to sit down and spend 4 hours making a one of kind necklace from buttons? How did I get there?

Yesterday I grabbed my phone and shot a quick video talking about just that. I enjoyed documenting my thoughts on these necklaces…so often the feelings and thoughts behind designs get lost when they are shown and described online. Being able to put a voice to that story is a unique aspect of what can be shown on the blog version of my sketchbook and I hope to do more of it the future.

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Its a mad, mad, video world

I have been avoiding Vine. Mainly because the thought of having something worthy of recording on video every day is daunting. As I have been doing studio videos for the past two months, I can say that I have to work up to them during the week. Sometimes, I just don’t have the mojo to go through with it. Perhaps this is because I prep some parts, like the jewelry being shown or what topic I will discuss, but just wing it with what I say. It also has to do with the fact that I do not wear makeup during the week when I am just working with my studio manager. Perhaps its vain to not go on video unless I am wearing makeup, but its the truth.

I am however pretty intrigued by Instagram introducing video. I like that auto play can turned off and that you can choose the frame to display as your main image. Basically it allows me to keep the integrity of how I already know IG intact while allowing me to dip my toe in the insta-video waters. I am realizing though (and trying to get comfortable with it) that it is futile to avoid video in the marketing Manic Trout. So I am trying to embrace it with baby steps. Very baby steps…I have posted 1 lone video on IG. Embryonic steps.

If you’re wondering, I did in fact get around to making a video this week and in it, I layer necklaces like a boss.

Are you curious to see more of the studio videos? Boom! There’s a Manic Trout YouTube Channel for just that. If you don’t already follow along on IG, you should now do so @manictrout.

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Finding inspiration

I am often asked where I find inspiration for my work. This is both a hard and a super easy question to answer. The short of it is everywhere, the long is that I am always on the lookout. I read hundreds of blogs daily, mostly design and travel related, read piles of books and magazines, keep my eyes open when I go anywhere…from walking the dog to traveling and basically never think something is too obscure to be inspiring. Yesterday, a bug on the bottom corner of a page in a magazine I was flipping through sent me off into an inspired frenzy immediately. My assistant Lauren saw all this go down and asked if I would go through the process of finding something that inspired me to designing a piece of jewelry on video…so she did. We used my phone and it was our first video, so no judgement….

 

 

What inspires you?

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When I grow up

In my mind, I am wearing an amazing gown instead of my mothers slip (to her amazing gowns that I was not allowed to play in)
In my mind, I am wearing an amazing gown instead of my mothers slip (to her amazing gowns that I was not allowed to play in very often).

We all had fantasies about what we wanted to be when we grew up and most of us entertained ourselves for hours on end pretending those fantasies were true.  I alternated between being a CEO (off what? I don’t think I realized there was a what) and being a designer.  A few years ago, I was reconnected with a childhood friend on the phone and she asked what I did.  I told her I was a designer and she paused, giggled and asked if by any chance I designed under the name S & S designs. We had spent more hours then I can count creating this fictional life for ourselves as designers at this make believe place, and I think she was so amazed that I actually pursued what I wanted to be when I grew up that there was a chance that I brought that fantasy name along too.

It’s kind of odd to be doing what I always wanted to do…sort of like Ross on that Friends episode when Brad Pitt reminds him of the days when they were such nerds that all they did was talk about dinosaurs all day.  Oh god, does that mean I’m Ross??? Ha! But really, I was thinking today about the office I had set up in the barn when I was 12 and that the chair I used was kind of like the one I’m sitting in right now.  I then realized that being a designer is an exact split between what you imagine a designer does when you’re a little girl and what you imagine a CEO does.  And that is pretty great, according to my 12 year old self.

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Recently in Instagram…

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Date night! (adam’s taking the photo…next time we’ll make sure to have the waiter do it!)
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Uncle Adam!
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Pretty little flowers from a yummy brunch
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Materials for consideration in the Bridal Line
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The very first necklace from the Bridal Line!
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Testdriving the second necklace…I took it to lunch
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The breathtaking view of  Lake Travis from our table…it was a gorgeous day!
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Lisa put her soap skills to work and made lunch prettier!

 

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A sketch of the third necklace from the new line!

The past two weeks have been filled to the brim…lots and lots of studio time, but tons of fun fit in there too!

Are you on Instagram?  I am @manictrout, look me up if you so desire!

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