When I was in college part of my Liberal Arts education included taking all those pointless general education requirements. You know the ones. Even if we were quite certain we’d have no use for anthropology anywhere in our life, it seemed a better option than any other “science” requirement, and therefore was the most popular. I failed it. Not because I didn’t understand it, but because it was an 830am class on a Friday.
I actually just barely squeaked by based on the grades I got in all those gen-ed classes that were supposed to help in making each student “well-rounded.” I strongly felt I didn’t need them, and being the hard-headed and defiant girl of 19, I made sure to show my displeasure with the system by either not showing up, or falling asleep in the classes to which I did go. Fight the man and you will be put on academic probation; a place where I sat comfortably for the majority of college.
However, there was one gen-ed course I took that, despite my thoughts on the matter at the time, actually came in handy shortly after college: Introduction to Business. Again, I chose this particular class from whatever category in which it resided, because it seemed the easiest. Although I scoffed at the idea of ever going into any sort of business – I’m pretty sure my monthly invoices I send out to editors don’t count – I thought I could at least pass it. It was at the point in my college career where I just needed to pass my gen-ed requirements so I wouldn’t be kicked out of school. The university didn’t seem to care what my GPA in my major was.
Again, I squeaked by; sometimes showing up to class, sometimes not. I didn’t even buy all the necessary books for the course because I figured it was a waste. When the final paper rolled around the topic was “How I’d Be A Great Business Owner.” It was, I’m assuming, supposed to cover all the things we had learned in the past semester, but being the asshole, privileged, I’ll “do what I want” kid, I couldn’t answer that question. Not only had my spotty attendance record contributed to this lack of knowledge, but I knew I’d be a shitty business owner; in fact, I’d be the worst business owner in the history of the world. So, once again, feeding off my incessant defiance and my issues with authority, I decided I’d change the assignment. I wrote my paper on how I’d be a horrible business owner and all the reasons why.
I got an A. Apparently, it was a convincing enough argument.
After graduation and a brief living situation in Boulder, Colorado, I moved back into my parents’ house. It wasn’t as though I could move to NYC without a job, money or a backbone and stand outside the Penguin Publishing offices screaming, “You guys, I’m here! I know you’ve been waiting for me and my book!” I was there for two years.
In that time, I gained a bunch of weight, sulked, developed a case of social anxiety disorder, couldn’t find a job, then, only to keep me from offing myself, got myself a hobby. I am not a hobby person; the word alone makes me think of stamp collecting or some equally mundane shit.
But the hobby stemmed from the fact that I could never find exactly what I wanted in handbags. I was living in NH at the time; it’s not like you can just pop into Bergdorf and pick up a Balenciaga. So, I decided I’d make my own. I had time to kill, being unemployed, and I had friends to whom I could give them. Although I had never touched a sewing machine in my life, after a few lessons from mom and at least 50 pounds of eclectic 1970’s fabric from my her collection, I was up and running.
I was so “running,” that I would stay up for days just making one handbag after another. As I said, I was depressed, but creating all these one of kind goodies was helping to make that go away.
On a whim, I decided I’d start a handbag line and would eventually be more famous than Kate Spade; yes, that’s what I’d do. It’s not like the writing thing was going anywhere, so being a handbag designer would have to do. It was before the days of Etsy, so I was on my own. And while it was a short-lived experiment that slowly died after I moved to NYC, I did OK. I broke about even in the end, gave to charities and had my bags in a couple stores in Boston and Boulder.
It was only in trying my hand at owning a business did I really learn that I’m not so bad at business at all.
Photo: Louis Vuitton