Should I stay or should I go?
Let me share with you something I actually wrote before the trip – before I even knew that I would be going…
I launched this blog almost 2 years ago to the day, as we were sitting at the airport waiting to board for our ‘impromptu’ flight to Italy. I say ‘impromptu’ because although we had planned to go and meet with manufacturers, the ‘when’ and ‘how’ all fell into place very quickly – and by quickly, I mean one morning I was sending an email to a new potential manufacturer, that evening we were on a Skype call and signing mutual NDAs, and the next day we were booking flights for a trip only two weeks later, in order to pick up my very first shoe prototype (you can read more about that here).
This time around (if there is a ‘this time’), it’s feeling all a bit similar – I have a big picture of what I want, but I can’t see a way to make it happen… the door is too big, too daunting… and it has to happen within such a short timeframe (last time, that was due to Andrew having a conference in Copenhagen that meant we could both travel over to Europe together).
Why the time pressure now? Well, we have Littler Cub due in late September, and I’m really only comfortable to fly – and be that far from home – up until early/mid July. Plus, business in Italy closes down for the month of August for their summer. I really feel I need to get over there and meet with my contacts, and touch and feel swatches and samples myself so I can start to make firm decisions. There’s also my buckle to resolve, too (another story). Anyway, travel is only going to get more ‘complicated’ with two under 18months, so I feel now is the time to go.
So, why not just book our flights and jetset off while we can? There are two answers to that:
Answer #1: ‘Mumma guilt’
I’d heard this phrase before becoming a parent, and although I could imagine what that meant, I obviously now feel the full weight of it. I’m all for following your dreams (why else would I have quit a comfortable, well-paying job to pursue this?!) but this new role as Mumma adds a whole other dimension. We’re in a really good routine and with only three and a bit months to go until our next cub arrives, I really don’t want to disrupt everything (although I am aware it will *quite possibly* be disrupted once the new baby is here). But how fair is it to expect a one year-old to travel to Europe, particularly when it’s for business (meaning I won’t get to spend much time with him)? How will he cope with and manage the jetlag? Should we leave him at home with grandparents? No, I couldn’t do that… not for his sake, nor mine! (Shoutout to all his amazing grandparents though – it’s not personal!)
If we go then, how will we manage meetings having him with us? Maybe a grandparent could come too then, to take care of him? What if they get lost somewhere? What if he gets sick? We speak different languages. What is the healthcare system like there? It’s really hot there, we don’t even have Summer clothes to fit him, etc. Then, like I said, there is Littler Cub… sure it’s safe to travel while only in my second trimester, and flying is not known to cause premature labour, but you just never know what could happen. And, being that far away from home and my OB if it did happen, is somewhat daunting. You can imagine all the questions I have flying around in my mind…
Answer #2: Finances (or, should I say, ‘lack of’)
We’re both self employed, but like most families, we’re on a mostly single income while I stay home with our little guy. So we’re paying a mortgage and keeping up with bills, but all the while nurturing 2x startups. We have a lot of expenses and outgoings, even after cutting out life’s little luxuries (such as eating out) or spending money on absolutely anything other than what is necessary. I’m certainly not complaining – it is our choice and I believe will be worth it all in the end. Plus, as I have previously mentioned, we are so blessed to be surrounded by family who show up with tins of formula, bags of nappies, food and all sorts of other help. But the fact remains, there are just no funds to outlay for 3 x, maybe 4 x return tickets to Europe right now.
And still, I remember how it all played out last time: Andrew said to me as he walked out the door one day ‘Babe, this is the last day we can possibly decide to go – you better pray you find the manufacturer today if we are going to get there.’ I remember thinking ‘Well, at least he said ‘Pray…’, so he doesn’t think I need to do this on my own!’
Fast Forward to now >>>
Obviously, as you know, I chose to go and not stay, with all those fears and questions overcome and answered – hallelujah!
So, how did our little guy go with all the travel? (i.e. Answer #1)
In short, he was AMAZING! The first flight (Syd-Singapore) he was a bit fussy, but the second he slept for most of the way… albeit on Andrew’s lap for most of the 12 hours. We’d actually paid for his own separate ticket so we could put him in his car seat (sitting within the plane seat) but didn’t use that at all between Singapore and Rome. Seems a bit of a waste, but oh well – a win’s a win! He landed well-rested and full of smiles for his new Italian admirers.
The return flights home were even better, with him sleeping and using his car seat for a lot of the time. The jetlag didn’t seem to affect him too much while in Italy either, but it has taken us a few long nights back home for him to be finally sleeping through the night again. All in all though, a good experience – better than we could have hoped. And what made it even easier was that we were blessed to have a grandparent come along with us. That meant we were free to take appointments at any time of the day while he was safely in the apartment (or out in his stroller for walks along the beach) with his Nonnie. Also, we owe a big thank you to family and friends who also turned up with bags of summer clothes in size 1, meaning we didn’t need to go out and spend more money!
Speaking of, what about the cost of the trip?
This was a huge hurdle – a natural one that we couldn’t see a way to overcome. Do we refinance our home and draw down on equity? Take out an additional personal loan? Put it on a credit card? All of these don’t sound like great ideas at this point for us as a family/household, even though the expense is for business. Without going into details, we’ve already strained ourselves enough on this front and it would be unwise to push it any further.
We couldn’t come up with a way to make it work, so just left it in God’s hands with a simple recognition (often repeated out loud!) “If we are meant to go, something will work out.” Ha, and as I found out again – miracles do happen! An angel investor* came along at the eleventh hour, who provided the bulk of funding we needed for the trip. They believe in me (wow!) and the Løvinde brand and vision enough to sow into my business.
I am so grateful and feel incredibly blessed, not only by the crazy timing but that someone (unprompted by us) was willing to financially invest to see things progress and move forward. Admittedly at first I was shocked (read: very teary, in a good way!) and overwhelmed but then the fears set in even deeper. “This is actually a real possibility now, we can financially make it to Italy.” Which meant all those other Mumma fears became more ‘real’ too. After some time (and I didn’t have much of it, only a day or two) I realised for this new finance to come in at this point in time perhaps meant I needed to overcome the worrying, and that actually “I’m meant to go, so let’s give this giant door a big shove!”. So, we graciously accepted and we were booking flights for one week out… and the manic prep and packing began! Which included brushing up on our Italian:
Now, to clarify the ‘angel investor’ part… it was something even more miraculous than that. An angel investor is generally a ‘friendly investor’ who provides early stage funds to help businesses get off the ground. In return, they take a minority stake in the business. This angel investor was, in fact, more like just an angel – they provided the funds without expectation or desire for any stake in the business, with their only ‘return’ being wanting to see me pursue my dream. And no, it’s not a family member – it’s someone connected to a family member, but whom I’ve only recently gotten to know. I mean, people use the term ‘miracle’ lightly sometimes, but how incredible is that?? And just at the right moment too, so it brought the whole thing together… just like last time.
It still seems unreal, now that I’m on the other side and thinking back on what happened in order for us to get there. But it DID happen, and I have so much to share… but now I think that’s a story for another day!
Thank you to all for your supportive messages along the way – it’s always so encouraging, especially when I was able to read them so far away from home. I promise I’ll continue sifting through my photos and samples and provide a recap of the whirlwind trip soon…
Ciao for now!
P.S Thanks to all who have done my survey – I’ve had heaps of responses. If you haven’t yet done so, or wouldn’t mind sharing it with your friends and colleagues, I would be very grateful. You can find it here.
P.P.S I’ll soon be looking for some lovely ladies who may be interested in participating in a small focus group. If you are interested, please let me know here. And thank you to those who have already offered, I’ll be in touch soon!
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