The other day, at my local bodega, I was making conversation with the man at the counter, like I always do. We got to talking about some of the local flavor here in Long Beach.
"I bet you see all kinds of people working here," I nodded toward the door as a man, singing loudly to himself, passed by.
"Oh, here it's not so crazy," he shrugged, "I used to work on 7th street, and that was nuts."
"I used to live over on Cherry and 7th, and the streets were wild, right by that 7-11," I said.
"Oh yeah, that block..." the man took a deep breath, "I used to work as an EMT, and the things I saw on Cherry and 7th, they'd blow your mind."
"I get it. I used to bartend, over on Broadway and Alamitos. There's something about that block, people would act... it's like it's..."
"Haunted?" the man laughed a little.
"Yeah, sort of. Like, it made people possessed or something. Everyone was the worst version of themselves in that bar. It was kind of spooky."
"Yeah, I hear that. I used to think I wanted to be a cop, but just working as an EMT, seeing how people act, I was like, nah, I'm good."
"Ha, I once thought I wanted to be a lawyer," I told the man, "But a girl I was bartending with corrected me real quick. She said: You wouldn't last 2 days as a lawyer. You compain about all the scumbags you have to deal with here, and this is just the bar! No way you could deal with more. No way, no day."
"So you still bartend?" The man asked.
"Actually no, I quit all that," I told him, "I'm a full time artist now. I teach people to paint."
I realized this was the first time I had verbalized this to anyone. That this was my full-time job. My actual career. Whoa.
"Oh that's way cooler!" the man smiled, and handed me my bag of Chardonnay, some laundry detergent and pink doggie bags. (And no cigs! I quit forever ago!)
"Yeah, and you know what?" I asked him, "No more scumbags! Like, zero," I said, and I meant it.
I think a lot of us have someting about our job that--if we really take a look at it--is a dealbreaker. I had had it up TO HERE with creepy bar owners, drunk men hitting on me, and addicts who were constantly making excuses to enable their bad behavior. I met some real gems, too, working in bars, don't get me wrong. All of my best girls are bar girls. There were lots of things about the job that I loved. But, I was exhausted with the seedier side of things. I was tired of seeing humanity through a blurry, dive-bar lens. I was tired of the scumbags.
One day, I hit a wall. I was doing pilates in my living room, and something in me...just...cracked. I started crying, seemingly for no reason, but deep down, I knew what was wrong. I love people. How had I let my love for people be turned into hate for them? This was all so wrong! I called a friend, one of my bar girls, actually, and after a long talk, she made me promise to quit my job. I swore I would, but chickened out. I avoided her follow up call, so I didn't have to admit that I was still working the bar. And then, in March of 2020...well, we all know what happened in 2020.
I took a little time off during the you-know-what, binging Netflix and ordering too much GrubHub, like we all did. But then, I made the firm decision to open Pop!Art Studios. I had flirted with the idea of opening the company before, but I was always too busy, too stressed or too burned out from my "day" job. With bars and restaurants closed down, I had no more excuses. I worked hard during shutdowns to build our website, marketing materials, painting inventory, and all the back-end stuff, and announced that we would open when California did. I threw our first-ever event on reopening day, July 15th, 2021. I had it in my backyard, and invited people I knew.
Within a few months of opening, we added venue after venue to our roster of cool places to have painting parties. (HUGE shout out to Scholb Premium Ales for being the first venue, who really got things started for us!) I met tons of new people, and quickly, my view on humanity started to change. I saw people at their best; creating, and being kind to each other. We played with paint, de-stressed, and shared how we were feeling. (Which, for most of us, was a combination of weird, exhausted, scared and happy to be back out in the world.) I even saw some of the people I had met in bars, and looked at them differently. No scumbags! None at all! And these were some of the same people!
Since Pop!Art Studios opened, 2 years have flown by. The entire process of building this business has been amazing, scary, weird, fun and challenging. More than anything else, it's been a healing process. I can look around me today and see people for who they really are, not their flaws or lowest moments. And so, I think, the #1 reason to start your own business, is to create what you want--or maybe what you need--to see in the world.
What would you like to see more of? What would you like to heal? What can you imagine yourself creating? I guarantee that if you start creating it, you'll start to see your world transform, too.
Have you thought of starting a business? This blog will get into lots of practical advice, funny stories, resources and more to help get you excited to start. I'll even share some painting tips, too, if you came here looking for that.
Comment and tell me what kind of business you want to start below, I would LOVE to hear!