Updated: Nov 2, 2018
In part 3 of our Dreamcatchers–Women at Work series, I'm thrilled to introduce you to another dreamcatcher who is such an inspiration to me! I love her heart for people and her eye for beauty. Michele Dosio and her husband Del own a handcrafted vintage lighting company with one-of-a-kind designs and pieces that are truly stunning! Check them out at M & D Lighting for their farmhouse chandeliers and unique lighting.
How I Juggle Family and Small Business Life
by Michele Dosio
I wish I could share with you a secret formula for success. Success in anything, really. But just as people are different, relationships are complicated, and life is just plain unpredictable–so is the definition of success. Here’s a little story about my journey, and what success means to me.
Someone once said, “The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.”
One of my passions is antiquing. Yes, you read that right. I love old things, or as some might say…junk. Items that tell a story that might never have been told, but only imagined.
One Saturday morning, my husband of twenty years and I were scouring some old, run down shops in Saint Augustine for anything “good” when a unique piece caught our eye. Someone had taken pallet wood, screwed rusty wire baskets into it, added pendants, suspended it from the ceiling, slapped a ridiculous price tag on it and voila…called it a chandelier! Just about then, the clerk said, “We’ve sold two of those this week. If you’re interested, I could put you on the waiting list and let you know when we get more in.” Del and I have always loved unique light fixtures. I remember he mumbled something to me like, “I know I could create something even better than that one.” And, as strange as it may seem, in that very moment a seed was planted in our hearts to start our own business. We didn’t think of it as that then, but shortly after, Del listed our first chandelier- his unique creation- on our new Etsy shop that we named M & D Lighting Company.
We decided to only use quality materials such as antique heart pine wood, authentic barn pulleys, and vintage inspired electrical hardware. To start, we drove to Georgia and purchased about $200 worth of wood that was milled out of salvaged beams harvested from an old whiskey distillery building. Del luckily had a few basic woodworking tools, which were still in good shape, but left over from the restoration of our 1901 Victorian house many years ago. The small 10X13 storage shed in our back yard morphed into our make-shift shop and quickly became the happening place at our house! After work, Del and I would do some brainstorming and then he’d try a new idea. We’d scrutinize every detail and talk about the functionality and aesthetic, wondering if anyone would even like the product.
It didn’t take too many sales to realize that people did like our lights! We knew we could use some more help with the smaller details of the production, so we enlisted the help of our amazing children. Each one has his own job for which we pay accordingly. From stamping our emblem on the shipping box to sweeping sawdust from the shop floor, our four sons are a tremendous help to the business. There’s nothing like hearing that CHA-Ching chime that sounds from Del’s cell phone every time we get a sale! We all get excited. It truly is a family affair! Would you believe that just one year later, over 100 chandeliers have been sold and shipped to our wonderful customers all over the country?!
How odd to think that our love of searching for “junk” and appreciating unique lighting would be the springboard for a crazy idea, that turned into a dream, that turned into a risk, that turned into a business. And by the way, we didn’t have to quit our day jobs, re-mortgage our house, or take out a loan the size of China to do it! Praise Jesus. We just had to be willing to squelch the fear of failure long enough to try.
Through this experience, I have come to understand that the definition of success to me is being able to pay for our son, Jackson’s violin lessons. It’s having extra to give regularly to missionary friends who care for orphans in Costa Rica. It’s living a dream that we’ve created together. It’s teaching Brent, Dylan, Jackson, and Aiden, how to work hard and not let self-doubt hold them back from their aspirations. It’s resting in the knowledge that we are in the palm of God’s hand. I’d love to tell you that from this experience I was able to happily check off a box from my hand-written list of life goals, but that would be a total fabrication. Those that know me best will attest to my adversity to lists! I would, however, love to inspire you to write down your personal definition of success. It may change with each season of life. There was a time when my boys were little that success for me was being able to take a daily shower! I kid you not. I don’t know about you, but I feel that sometimes I get so wrapped up in this world and all the shiny things flashing before my eyes that I fail to appreciate all that is good in this moment… the little successes as well as the big ones.
I’d like to leave you with three thoughts that keep me centered while juggling our family and small business these days.
1. Make Family your priority.
What a shame it would be to gain the whole world but have no one with which to share it! I fail to love those around me well if I don’t have a plan to keep them high on the priority list. When we get off track, adjustments are made to our schedules and hearts as quickly as possible.
2. Be content.
I was convicted to the point of tears a couple of months ago after visiting my dear 82-year-old Grandmother. I was helping her carry some items into her home and tripped on her slippers that were resting near the kitchen table. I couldn’t help but notice they were fuzzy and pink and very very worn. My first thought was Oh MY! I must buy her some new slippers… pronto! But, from experience, I know if I mentioned it Gram would say something like I don’t need new ones. These are still good. Still useful. Still comfortable. There’s something to be said about those who are content. All of the success in the world can’t buy inner peace. That day, I was reminded once again that I actually need far less than I have.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
I am your typical Type A personally, but I am learning to adapt. Adapt to real life. Save the energy for the hard times that will undoubtedly come along. I feel the more trials that I go through, the less I care about the little things that tend to steal my joy. Perspective is everything.
In short, the words of David Viscott perfectly sum things up. He said, "If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed." And for me, truer words have never been spoken.