all in the family

Even though I start my morning in my new office space, I usually end up watching some marathon reality show while I work in the afternoon. It is a bit more comfortable for me to edit web pages and create print layouts while working in our leather chair than the folding chair from Target, our current desk chair. We have to find something soon. Otherwise, I am not sure how productive I am in the living room. Although, I have checked off quite a few items from my to do list today.

This afternoon, I caught up on a few episodes of MTV’s Run’s House, an entertaining look at the family of Joseph Simmons, aka Reverend Run from Run DMC. I am always interested in the dynamics of family businesses. So my productivity slowed drastically as I watched Vanessa and Angela come up with the idea of a new atheletic footwear for women in the episode Sneaker Pimps & Mini Moguls.

First of all, Russy was trying to make money by scavenging whatever items he could find from around the house and sell them to other people, including a delivery guy. Finally his befuddled father encouraged him to set up a yard sale in front of their mansion. The ten-year-old was dressed in a suit and tie, which I thought was pretty amusing. I had not considered dressing up so much for a yard sale, considering I have watched countless on Style’s Clean House. Amy and I are having a yard sale in a few weeks. So you never know, maybe Hayden, Sam and Hannah will be dressed to kill and ready to sell. They did convince Amy to have the yard sale, after all.

As Vanessa and Angela were out shopping, they decided that there was a hole in the athletics shoe segment for women. I love watching the birth of any new product. As I worked on MerriMail’s mini-brochure, I did a search and discovered that the new shoes had already made their debut. But not before I saw the sisters coin the name Pastry, after hours of brainstorming and family-style bickering. One was going to Starbucks and offered to buy a pastry for the other. Aha! Aren’t all names generated that way? It reminds me of Mary Kathryn Tyson’s story about naming Creative Juices.

Eris and I went through the same drawn out process and eventually landed on MerriMail by dropping the two tt’s from our mothers’ maiden names. It is strange now to look back through my old idea notebooks and see Happy Mail, a name that didn’t quite work. Part of what makes MerriMail so special is our family connection. We share so many great memories of playing together and discussed opening our very own store. Instead of our gift shop with a display of chocolates in the front, we are able to send specially selected gifts out across the country (and the world).

Like the Simmons sisters, we even pitched the idea to our family last Easter at a family gathering. Granted Russell Simmons is not our uncle, so no one turned around and put our idea into a huge production with a full press campaign. We did all of the work on our own. Granted we had some help from our family along the way, including and several inaugural subscriptions from family members.

When you have a business with a family member, work and life blur together. Any entrepreneur will tell you that there is no nine-to-five work day. That is okay with me. I guess that was how I was raised. My mom and dad worked together since July of 1978. And my brother Alex also works with my parents. I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time with them this spring as part of going to North Carolina to do specific tasks for MerriMail. As a child, my parents shared conversations about the day’s work over our dinner table. The same topics have managed to engulf my brother. Now I am the outsider, where as before Alex and I could ignore the thoughts of will signings and court appearances together. We were more focused on creative ways to finish our green peas, including putting them in our orange juice. I guess life goes on.

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1 Comment

  1. Melba

    This is such an interesting post! I love looking at the journal I kept when I was naming my blog and business. It is fun to look back and see how far one has come.


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