The first ten years of R.Wood Studio was a tale of constant growth - and being constantly behind on the bills. I had no credit and couldn’t get a loan. As mentioned before, it was a lot of financial stress, but only made worth it by the fact that our product was successful. At the end of every year, exhausted, I would ask myself, “Can I do this another year?” On one hand was the fact that I had no real job skills and was looking at getting a minimum wage job if this didn’t work out. Then I always looked at the investment of time and effort I had put in so far. Knowing next to zero about business and finance, I had never figured out what would get us to the break even point, but I figured if we had a successful product it would eventually float our boat.
In 2000, around our tenth year, we did three huge things that we were sure would finally tip the economic scale in our favor. We got our first website up, after many nerve wracking delays and frustrating disappointments. We also designed and printed ourselves a wonderful color catalog to send out to stores. It was so different and appealing. Lastly, we decided to apply for a booth at the New York gift show, which, at the time, was notoriously hard to get into, and usually a waiting list. Well, there was a jury for the handmade section, and my fellow crafter friend, Crispina, who I hadn’t met yet, told the committee, "This is exactly the kind of thing we need in this show!" and so we got in on the first try. Everybody knew that when you went to the New York show, you got thousands of dollars worth of wholesale orders. It was the big time. I was confident we’d finally hit the big time and would soon be in the black.
Well, a few months after all that got going, I looked at the finances. We were still desperately low on cash and the stress level was still the same. I got so depressed. I just couldn’t anymore. I went home, (which was across the street), and just didn’t come back. I set up my painting gear on the front porch and went back to painting still lives. I just didn’t have any more energy to put into R.Wood studio. Thankfully, everyone pitched in and carried on all the work. They tried to get me to come over a couple of times, but I couldn’t even walk across the street. I was spent.
After 3-4 months, I decided I had to pull myself out of it, and realized there were things I could do to help the business along that didn’t require enthusiasm on my part, they just needed doing. I can’t for the life of me remember what those things were, but it was probably basic p.r. stuff; sending out press releases and such. I made a list and checked everything off, and sure enough, it generated some business and some ideas, and made me feel better. So I went back to work, and you know what? Soon after, we finally started making enough money! I finally could get and cash a regular paycheck! There were still a few rocky periods here and there in the years since, but I’ve been able to live off making things people love and enjoy for a long time now. One of my mottos has always been "Persistence pays off," and I am SO glad I persisted with R.Wood studio!