"I want to be a mountain climber and discover a mountain and find fossils and jewels on top of it." When I heard a six year old girl utter these words today while playing on the patio outside the store, I knew I had been given the best quote to sum up the year.
I loved her enthusiasm, her optimism, her lofty goals, and her imagination. She will make a perfect small business owner some day! Because when you do something like opening your own business and pouring your heart and soul into it, you aim high and hope for great rewards!
I've honestly been a bit overwhelmed the last two days, thinking back on the year that closes out at midnight tonight. The experience itself has been everything I had ever hoped for and more. While I'm still in the process of developing the profitable side of things, I can't even begin to put a price on the intangible rewards.
One of my hopes was to feel truly part of a community and I feel that way every single day. The people that are part of my daily routine - Jared the garage attendant, Freddie the UPS Driver, Dave the Mailman, Joyce the neighborhood lady who treats me to Starbucks because she says "I like you.", Charles the neighborhood man who says his dogs think I have the best water dishes in Alexandria, Cher the young homeless woman. They all make me feel wonderful every time I interact with them.
My customers have been nothing short of amazing. Many of them share their lives with me - introducing me to sons, daughters, mothers, brothers, sisters, and husbands. They ask about me and ask about the business and seem to truly care about the answer. They give me both positive and constructive feedback so that I can continue to make the business a better place. Some of them hug me when they walk in the door. I love that they are at Zoe because they want to be - not because anyone makes them be there (a few of the accompanying males look that way, but we've covered that subject).
I've been amazed at how much deeper many of my existing friendships have gotten and how many acquaintances have developed into friends. And, perhaps most critically, my faith continues to grow deeper. Each day, I acknowledge to God that he put me there for a purpose and for Him to help me to carry out that purpose in His honor.
As I close out the year, there are so many new things with the business to look forward to! I'll have an intern from the Art Institute working with me one morning and one afternoon a week for the first quarter of the year. I plan to take the business into the ecommerce realm by the end of the first quarter. Zoe will be part of the Junior Friends Toast to Fashion event in March and will be included in the First Edition of The Scout Guide Alexandria. This is our first year in the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Bureau Visitors Guide, and Zoe will celebrate her first birthday in April! And all of that is just in the first four months.
It has been a busy almost nine months since Zoe opened her doors that sunny April morning. I am taking a short Winter Holiday for the next four days to refresh and relax. And yes, like in past jobs, I'm anxious about being away and relaxing. But I'll let you know about the experience in my next blog post. Happy New Year!