Recently, I did an interview for the radio program/blog These Things That People Make. Interviewer Sarah Mangle wanted to know about the circuitous route that led me to Wise Daughters Craft Market. I told her a bit about my former life as administrator/executive director of various organizations: Ontario Literacy Coalition, Storylinks, Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, Kensington Youth Theatre and Employment Skills, and Women's Future Fund, to name most of them. Working in the non-profit sector often means a series of lateral moves, as funding winds shift. I had a particularly unerring ability to choose jobs just prior to elections, the results of which pretty much guaranteed my employment insecurity. For example, I went to work for a labour museum just before Harris took over from Rae in Ontario. Apparently, I like a challenge.
I retired from the non-profit sector for the first time in 2003, the year I turned 40. What started as a proposal to barter for Pilates classes turned into a full-time job managing a successful Pilates studio. I learned a lot about how to run a small business, and quickly discovered it's way easier than running a non-profit. That's when the entrepreneurial seed was planted. I was lured back to work for a national feminist organization, but of course, mere months later, Harper dismantled Status of Women Canada. When I was laid off from that job, I decided I was done. After a while, one's spirit starts to crack, if not break.
My path to entrepreneurship was delayed a bit further by a really interesting contract to do with feminist archives, but ultimately the idea took hold.
Now that it's been 2 1/2 years, it's hard to imagine ever giving up the freedom of running what I jokingly call a "benevolent dictatorship." No boards to report to, no meetings, no minutes, no schmoozing, no compromises. The mistakes are all mine, but so are the triumphs. This work feels like play, and that's pretty priceless.