Mark and I revealed to each other yesterday that we were both thinking, independently, the same thought: that despite all the tough questions we face, in many ways, we feel like we are in the best possible situation in our respective fields in the current economy. Though there are many challenges and annoying expenses incurred in working for yourself (hello, self-funded health insurance), we do not live in fear of our jobs (I have been morbidly obsessed with this site lately and for newer blog readers who may think this is sounding a bit smug, we did survive a layoff last year which started this whole journey). We’ll probably see a slowdown somewhere down the road this year, but this is also the normal rhythm of freelance and owning a business. While it doesn’t necessarily get easier dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of an unstable income, you do learn to brace for it. Food sales and design work is impacted by the recession just like everything else, but it’s weirdly comforting to know that we own some amount of control in our jobs which we wouldn’t have otherwise if we were on staff.
The food industry is a fickle affair, which is why I don’t think I’d ever leave design work. We need our income and we need something to fall back on should the business fail to maintain a profit, so I can’t foresee ever jumping into the business full time unless we can expand the brand to include some design (more recipe cards? A book? kitchen accessories? I would LOVE). Over the past 6 months, I have met many talented artists, writers and crafts people online who have inspired me to want to pick up that drawing pencil and X-acto blade again (spare time, on the other hand, has not cooperated). Much like us, these small businesses are surviving and flourishing by carving a road that is the opposite path from corporate work life. Many of us have the same goals – to be able to make a living doing what we know and love, often while precariously juggling the demands and schedules of the family we are trying to support. It’s been both inspiring and comforting to “talk” to these people everyday via twitter or facebook or blogs, to watch the businesses grow, to share good news and celebrate achievements, and to commiserate and support when needed. Starting a business may not be for everybody. In so many ways it is much easier to go to a job, but I’ve come to respect these creative people so much for being brave enough to strike out on their own and resourceful enough to truly make things happen. It’s been the one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy environment filled with often depressing and heartbreaking news. So yes, as many of you have commented, our dilemma is a good one to have. I think we just need to stay positive and focus on the amazing things that are still happening around us.