Friday, September 30, 2016

15 years of deadlines and commitments

We just gave the go-ahead for the Nov/Dec issue.  It is the issue that ends the 15th year of The Essential Herbal.
One of my proudest accomplishments is getting every single one of those 90 issues out on schedule.  Every. One. 

First issue - I had NOTHING to do with that cover!  There were partners for the first issue only.
For the last 11 years, that was with the major assistance of Maryanne on lay-out who was also willing to stick to a strict schedule.

When Molly first started pitching in a couple years ago, I took 2 (because we put out a magazine every 2 months) generic calendar months, and outlined what happens when.  I thought that it would be 5 or 10 days that had entries, but was surprised to see that there were a couple major things that have to happen every week.  After so many years, it was automatic, and didn't even seem like work anymore.
I know my small business friends know exactly what it means to make this happen.  We love our work, but there's no denying that there are trade-offs (OTHER than benefits, regular hours, and guaranteed pay).  For instance, there is no "second shift."  If you don't get it done, you keep going until it is done.  Nobody can pick up where you left off.

In the earliest years, it meant that I packed Molly off for a weekend at her father's, and spent the next 48 hours rolling around on the floor with scissors, tape, glue, and the scent of fear.  It would be finished when she got home, and on Monday morning it would go to work (at the then printer) with me.  I'd print, bind, and trim it, and then take it home to address, wafer seal, and stamp. 
Eventually there were enough subscribers for a bulk mail permit, and then I'd do the sorting and banding and all that was entailed there.
 It means that during most of those years, business trips did double duty as what we semi-jokingly called vacations.
It means that in sometimes dire circumstances, you still have that eye on the calendar.  We lost 2 members of the family, and still look back wondering how we managed.  I was the primary caregiver for one of them.  He'd designed one of the covers, and on the day he died, we returned to the house to find boxes of that magazine had arrived and were waiting for us on the porch. 

 Before we had Carey working on the covers, they were a real challenge.  Another very memorable cover experience was making and then photographing a holiday swag on the barn - while a nasty little rooster continuously attached us.
On the other side of the coin reside so many wonderful things!
Although Molly gave up doing a lot of activities with me growing up, she's learned to forage.  She knows a lot about herbs and some pretty cool herb folk.  She's learning how to make soap, all about attending and vending at herb festivals, and she got from her mother and aunt the same thing we got from our mother - an understanding of the dedication required to run a business.

I've met amazing people who have been generous and kind with their information and writing.  We know all kinds of cool folks.  We're still learning and expect to continue that as long as our senses continue to function.

Flex time... we know what we have to do, and if we think we can get it done AND spend a couple days during the week goofing off, then we do that.
A friend just visited for a couple of days, and by doing work ahead and a little each morning, I was able to hang out with her and really enjoy it.  Of course a lot of people think that's just how our days are.  Maryanne also has a business, so we help each other, and it means we have to have TWO businesses done ahead.  We often run into people who think that because we make time for them, our days are just wide open.  Not so.  Just takes a little planning, and we can be flexible. 
Naturally, it also means that we can work in our jammies.
This magazine mails on the 10th of the month.  Then the shop copies and writer copies go out from here.  We'll take a few days off when that's done (although that's usually when we get bombarded with soap orders in my sister's wholesale soap business...), and off we'll go on our 16th year.

This winter we'll start work on the 3rd five year compilation, but it will probably be a year before it is finished.  It's a huge job, and we have a few other, smaller projects in the pipeline first.
Just for the moment, though, I'm feeling like something has been well completed.

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IrisWeaver said...

Thanks for this history! It's really interesting to see what you have been doing and how you have done.

Tina Sams said...

Thanks Iris. There's also an interesting timeline that correlates to the number of subscribers (income) and improvements in the magazine. For instance, it started at 16 pages, then doubled. Later, we consistently went with color covers. This year the price went up, and while I briefly entertained the thought of giving myself a raise, instead we went with full color, a nice gloss paper, and the magazine mailing in a protective sleeve.


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