Wowwww….I just sat down to write about being open for 5 years and immediately felt emotional and shut my computer! What’s so shocking and so just surreal is that I can remember the very beginning literally like it was yesterday.
FINDING A PURPOSE
I mean, I feel like I’ve told this story about a million times but honestly isn’t that basically exactly what God tells us to do to—always remember His faithfulness? Look back on the miracles He’s done and walk in renewed thankfulness and vigor! Let’s get vigorous y’all!
So when I was graduating college I felt somewhat dreamless. Visionless. I got a degree in Hospitality Management (freakin’ guns up y’all!), but I knew I didn’t want to manage a Jason’s Deli for the rest of my life. It was like, okay great I got this degree but what do I do now? Sarah called me and was basically like “Hey, I want to open a retail store/design studio….so…..” I’m like “On it! Girl I’m so on it! Don’t you worry!” Lol and basically that’s all it took! HAHA!
Shortly thereafter we attended our first Passion Conference in Atlanta where we learned that nearly 40 million people currently are trapped in human trafficking! This was NEWS back then. This rocked our world. We knew opening the store was our plan, but upon learning this insane statistic, we’d just found our purpose! We come from an area where, to be honest, the level of affluence can create a level of blindness. A “don’t ask don’t tell” type of lifestyle where if you just keep your head in the sand you can’t be held accountable. We fundamentally disagree with this type of culture and honestly we don’t think it’s for anyone’s benefit! So we decided our retail store/design studio would only represent brands that are made ethically. With no slave labor, child labor, or any type of inhumane conditions.
And believe it or not y’all (I know that if you’re reading this you’re probably thinking “well of course! like who would want to buy anything made in that way!”) we have a number of brands who we WILL NOT BUY from because when we spoke with them about our purpose and began to probe for answers about how they manufacture their goods and who is in charge of ensuring quality life of the plant workers their response was “keep this on the down low, but to be honest, that’s just not a priority to us.” That’s the honest truth y’all. There are actually people, manufacturers, brands that YOU KNOW that have said to our faces “that is not a priority to us.” — and THAT’s why this matters so much to us!
It is unacceptable that human beings profit off the manipulation of other human beings just because they’ve been placed in a position of power. Unacceptable.
THE BUMP IN THE ROAD
We had our purpose, we had our plan (very vaguely) and we were off! Unfortunately literally 1 month after we felt we were off to the races, Sarah was diagnosed with Lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes. She went through 6 months of chemotherapy and several rounds of radiation.
Then Katie felt called to spend time loving on kids in Africa.
Then Sarah spent 3 months taking care of our maternal grandmother, who passed away while Katie was in Africa.
Then our paternal grandfather passed away suddenly, unexpectedly, and without warning.
Then we both, me back from Africa and Sarah back from the Hell that is cancer, walked through what the hell the last year had been. At the beginning of the year we felt inspired, called, fueled, thrilled! The year beat us up. Literally, in Sarah’s case and emotionally in Katie’s case.
The following January we began to take baby steps towards the dream that was Lambert Home! I began writing a business plan (that y’all know I’m so proud of!) and Sarah began dreaming and scheming, drawing floor plans, and sourcing product lines that were ethically manufactured.
I remember specifically sitting in a meeting with our loan officer. I was 23 and Sarah was 27, and bless our hearts, we knew how to work hard, and Sarah knew how to design, but we were babies! Our loan officer, a blessing from God himself, praised us for our business plan, for Sarah’s incredible talent, and literally processed our loan independently. I believe the quote was “to shoot you straight girls, there’s no way the SBA will give y’all a loan. It’s not going to happen through them. But that’s why I’m here. I’ll get this worked out for y’all and we’ll meet again next week.”
And the miracle of a meeting with our current landlord where he said “Just tell me exactly what you would want, like if you were just dreaming what would you want…” and we said outlandish things like “We don’t want to pay rent for a year…and when we do pay rent, we want it to be the cheapest rate in town!” and somehow we signed papers the following month?!
It’s meetings like this that we look back on in disbelief! It’s meetings like that where Sarah and I would get in the car, stare at each other and say “what’s happening? Like…what just happened? How is this working?!”
THE UPS AND DOWNS
The thing is, Sarah and I STILL look at each other and say “What’s happening?! How is this our life” very regularly! Sometimes the sheer fact that we do what we do blows our minds! LOL! I’ve compiled, just off the top of my head, some of the times that we’ve looked at each other in shock (both good and bad).
In our first year in business, we got our first kitchen remodel job. This was not something we were planning on doing but omg, it happened! HA! How?! We even told them, bless their hearts, we literally said “we’re thinking about maybe starting to do these remodels ourselves, would you want us to do that?”
Coronavirus….and closing the store for 6 weeks…
Getting our first paychecks! We worked for 2 years without taking a paycheck. (We lived at home, bless our parents!) Getting paid is amazing! Don’t y’all agree?! Haha!
Speaking of getting paid, things were so exciting in 2017 with all those paychecks, and then 2018 hit. And neither of us took home a paycheck for another year. Well, that’s not entirely true, this time we both looked through our bills and said “at the very bare minimum, what do you need to pay your bills” — and that’s what we got paid. Period.
Getting to remodel my house has been an entire “what is this life” moment for us!
The fact that we’ve worked with the same contractors for 5 years. Such a blessing!
And y’all there are a million more—really, really highs and really, really lows. I want to share all of them but, to be honest, the highs would seem braggy and the lows you guys would be like horrified. lol. And also, I’m an enneagram 8 so I literally already feel like I’ve shared too much!
Today, we are the busiest we’ve ever been! We have new client contracts coming out of our ears, our construction schedule is confirmed through January, and we’ve really hit our stride. We have a smooth system, a great team, and we’re just so happy and so blessed and every day still just utterly thankful and grateful for our business, our clients, and our subcontractors!