You can tell a lot about a person by the kind of coffee mug they drink from at home. Call me crazy, but it is true.
My husband and I are prime examples of this. He is what I would call a coffee snob. You know, the person who reads the lengthy description on the back of his freshly-roasted-whole-bean bag and recites to me the varietal information as well as pointing out the tasting notes I’m supposed to notice when drinking the piping-hot pour over. I, on the other hand, am more of an experiential coffee drinker. It is less important to me what is in the cup, rather what happens once you have it.
I know. Panic just set in. You are thinking, “but doesn’t she own a coffee shop and shouldn’t she be a snob and taste all the blueberries and know each of the farmers’ names?” This is where we begin our second installation of Create A Space. Let’s go.
Before a new project is created, you need to figure out what kind of coffee mug you are drinking out of. By that I mean, what do you want this space to feel like? What feelings do you want your product to embody? As you can tell, I’m more of a feeler. I drink my coffee out of a matte-white ceramic mug that fits the curves of my hand just right. I like that it feels warm to the touch and I like the shape and texture – I like the design. I like that I know my day is beginning and the next few minutes while I drink my coffee will be quiet and set the tone for my day.
My husband is more of a thinker. He drinks out of a clear glass mug which (I would say) has a horrible shape. It’s boring (to me) and all I see when I look at it is brown. He enjoys looking at nothing but the perfect coffee he just meticulously made.
His focus is the coffee. My focus is the feeling.
When I began dreaming up what would eventually become Vintage Heart, I knew that I wanted a few things. I knew that I wanted people to feel welcome and appreciated. I knew that I wanted a really great cup of coffee at a really great price. I knew that I wanted the space to be warm and beautiful. These were non-negotiable.
Working off of those wants, I filtered all my decision making through those lenses.
I began collecting anything and everything that I liked. I had a notebook I threw everything into. After a few days I would go through and filter out anything that didn’t fit. This went on for several years while I gained experience in the field and built up the courage to actually open a business. It may seem like scrapbooking is a childish thing to do in this instance, but I found it extremely helpful. It allowed me to see where my eye for design was trending. I was able to see that maybe it was more important to me to have comfy couches than an excess of plugs (gasp!). This private notebook allowed me the freedom to really feel out what I wanted for this project before the world had any input. This let me be completely confident in what I knew the space could be and to stand firm in the non-negotiables when push came to shove.
As you progress further into your project, a lot of people will have a lot of opinions. This is an amazing thing. Frustrating, yes. But amazing none the less. It has taken me quite a while to understand that people’s opinions mean they care. I encourage you to listen to these opinions. Throw them into your notebook. Give them a little bit of weight, then filter them through the same lenses you have used. If something sticks, great. If not, great. I encourage you to give yourself some space to listen to the outside world if only to make you more sure of what you want. People from the outside will think what you are doing is fascinating and probably assume you haven’t thought of whatever it is they are recommending to you (even though you have, because you have thought of everything). This can be an exhausting part of the process. At this point i suggest taking a deep breath and smiling. Or alcohol. Alcohol usually helps here too.
Having a clear focus of what you want is crucial to the development of yourself as an entrepreneur as well as the success of your project/product/space/idea. Have fun with this part. There are no rules. There is no right or wrong. Hell, many people might not even know about your big idea yet, so go crazy! Feel out what you want. Think out what you want. Fall in love with your idea. Give yourself time to decide what kind of coffee mug you enjoy drinking out of.