Oh damn….my first blog post and it’s giving me ALL the feels!
How did Chirp begin?
I couldn’t help but laugh when a vendor came into the shop before it was officially open and they said “Wow…how long have you been dreaming of doing this??” I can only assume they thought I’d tell them I’d been thinking about it my entire life. But, right at that moment, my husband popped out from under the front counter he’d been working on and said “About 3 months.” And he was right….
I have admittedly always been a creative soul with an entrepreneurial spirit. Much like my own father, I tend to literally dream up ideas in my sleep. But unlike my father (and most men I know), I’ve also daydreamed incessantly about all I could accomplish in life. I’ve always wanted “something more”. Something creative. Something that inspires creativity in others. Something that feels meaningful and dare I say fun. But a store?? That was never realistically in the cards.
I have a Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Creative Writing (yes, I still want to write a book someday) and my Paralegal Certification. I’ve worked in the legal field for fifteen years now, spending most of my time in Criminal Law and have more recently joined the world of estate disposition. But I've always needed "more". I’ve been an active volunteer for as long as I remember, ranging from a teenage candy-striper to a founder of New Jersey’s first “Becca’s Closet.” From 2010 to 2016, I moonlighted as a cake decorator. When my husband and I downsized two years ago, I decided to go for it and paint our 80s kitchen cabinets a Monica Gellar teal. I loved it. And so, I traded in my rolling pins for paintbrushes and became obsessed with refinishing any furniture I could get my hands on.
When I had somewhat surprising success privately selling my painted pieces, I started looking for a true venue to sell them. I did this for months and tried every idea you could ever imagine. I went to flea markets, antique malls, shared spaces, and networked like a true woman on a mission. Between my full-time work schedule and my distaste for every place I saw, none of these options seemed possible. Nothing “fit.” I came home exhausted after another failed attempt at a dim and dusty, ghost-town market and asked my husband “Can I just open my own shop?” To my surprise, relief and delight---he unflinchingly said “sure.” (My children would be the first to tell you that a “no way” wouldn’t have stopped me anyway, but I thought asking first was the polite thing to do.)
Mind you---my husband and I are as working-class as they come. We have three kids and we had no savings. We live paycheck-to-paycheck, so there’s never any money “left over”. This was a massive risk we were about to take. I would be lying if I said it didn’t worry me, keep me up at night and downright scare the crap out of me. But I’m more afraid or regretting the things I haven’t tried, so I just kept on swimming. We found a venue we fell in love with, crossed our fingers, and agreed that if my endeavor wasn’t a success, we wouldn’t renew our lease.
What an insane journey I was about to embark on---especially atop my job and children! I can’t describe how many overnighters, absurdly long days, and ridiculous situations I’d endured to make Chirp happen--especially in just three months from inception to opening! As many of you know, and perhaps some of you don’t, the furniture was actually quite quickly phased out of Chirp. I had no more time to paint! Over time, Chirp evolved even further until there was no retail at all anymore. (Stay tuned on a future blog about the evolution of small businesses.)
After a year, I’ve just now fine-tuned and honed in on exactly what I want to be doing. I run community events for children, ladies, and families alike. I hold public workshops, crafts and classes. And most of all—I host unique and creative birthday parties for children of all ages.
When I walk into Chirp, I smile. It’s one of my happy places. It has truly become mine. I get choked up thinking about the beautiful support I’ve received from family and friends. I get choked up thinking about how many customers have become new friends. I get choked up thinking about the moms who’ve pulled me aside and thanked me for creating Chirp. And of course, I get choked up thinking of all the little sweeties who’ve jumped up and down after winning a giveaway, dropped off letters for Santa, or hugged me after their birthday party.
What a lucky, lucky lady I am. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for supporting and following Chirp on this amazing journey.
To end on a cute note, here is my favorite interaction and biggest laugh from my entire first year of Chirp:
ME: Let’s go wash our hands. Anything you can’t get off your hands now, your mom or dad can get off with rubbing alcohol at home.
BOY (age 5): Hmm?
ME: Mom or Dad can use alcohol. Most of us have that at home.
BOY: You mean like Vodka?
And on that note---here’s to Year 2! Hope you join me for the ride!