How Entrepreneurship Really Affects Your Personal Life

Sierra Bailey, designer and owner of Manic Trout jewelry in her studio.
My happy place

I started Manic Trout in January of 2003. For years, I worked full time as well so I could put all of the income from the business back into it. In 2011, I moved to Austin, TX and took the leap to full time and have been enjoying solid growth since the move. Since 2003, besides building the company, I have gone through a divorce, progressed in my other career to the top position in the field, moved across the country, got married and mothered two dogs. Here are my thoughts on how being an entrepreneur has affected my personal life…

1. Marriage: You should probably feel bad for anyone married to an entrepreneur. Not really kidding on that one. Having the demise of marriage behind me, I had learned a few hard life lessons by the time I met Adam. Within the first 3 weeks, I told him that 1. Manic Trout would always be #1 and 2. I did not want kids because of that. Not the nicest thing to say, but it was honest. It has not made dealing with my long hours, devotion to work and all the craziness that building a business entails any easier, he just accepted that he was agreeing to this from the beginning.

I can’t personally imagine if we were both entrepreneurs. The fluctuating income alone would drive us crazy, but on the flip side, not being married to another entrepreneur means that he really doesn’t get it a lot. Bless his heart he tries though and that’s why it works for us. I enjoy being married to someone who loves corporate life because the steadier aspect of his job helps even out a lot of potentially high-stress areas, such as guaranteeing that we have health insurance.

I think Adam really enjoys experiencing with me the crazy highs…when my work is in a big magazine or in a music video, getting a huge new wholesale account, being contacted and admired by big companies/people, seeing how excited customers are about the jewelry…that become his good news too. He also understands the lows…the days I don’t leave the studio except to sleep, the overwhelmed moments, the rejection (there is SO MUCH possibility for rejection in entrepreneurship), the failures…all the bad moments that I sometimes want to talk about over and over and sometimes don’t want to talk about at all. He has to deal with everything I experience, sometimes both in one day, sometimes involving a lot of emotion. It’s a lot for a spouse to take on, but so are many other things in life.

2. Children: Without getting too much into this topic, I will just say that I personally decided years ago that I really enjoy working all the time. I would most likely resent anyone who prevented me from doing this and therefore felt it was not fair to have a child with this mindset. I know plenty of entrepreneurs with kids who juggle it like a champ. I however felt I had to make a choice, and I made it, it’s my path in life, no regrets. As I said above, I was open with my husband about this when we met, so no surprises there. My mom has 3 more daughters, so she seems to accept it. My dad is back and forth between understanding it and being really bummed that his linage dies with me. It is what it is.

3. Parents: My dad is an entrepreneur, actually his dad is as well and my mom’s dad was too. My mom followed her dream for her profession. I grew up with parents who worked all the time but really enjoyed what they did and encouraged me to live out my wildest dreams. From a very young age, my dream was to be a designer. The type of designer changed back and forth over the years, but I sold scrunchies to the public at a summer festival in my dad’s town the summer I was 8 so I think he saw it coming. My mom has gone waffled over the years of wanting me to have I’m sure less stress and has herself stressed a great deal about “my potential”. She still has moments every now and then where she calls me and tells me that she wished she had pushed me into science at a young age instead of letting the pull of the arts draw me in.

There were the years she insisted I should be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company…which one was up to me. There was a phase when she thought I would be great as a general in the military. The most recent phase was that I should go back to school and become a surgeon, plastics or neuro…up to me which one. Yeah. Sometimes I think that what she envisioned for her oldest child is a bit different than what happened, but it doesn’t maker her less proud or happy for me. I actually just read a great open letter to parents of entrepreneurs over at Inc., its really all very true.

4. Siblings: I am the oldest of 4 girls. There is 16 years between myself and the youngest and 2 exactly in the middle. We are all really living our dreams through our work which is pretty amazing. My 2 younger sisters tell me often that I have been an amazing role model to them and that just means more to me than anything. All 4 of us work crazy hours, although the youngest is a Millennial, so she is much more into the work/life balance than the other 3 of us, as one would expect.

I am lucky to be really close to all of my sisters, they are the ones I turn to when the days are rough and when the awesome things are happening. You need a strong support group if you choose the life of entrepreneurship, and they have done that in spades. Thea (my youngest sister) has worked by my side countless times over the years and now works for a jewelry company while in school. It’s not the profession that she plans on going into, but she enjoyed working with me enough that she sought it out as an adult. I’m just sad she lives so far away so it’s someone else and not me!

5. Friends: As an adult, most of my friends are fellow entrepreneurs. They’re my tribe. They also have schedules like mine so they are free for lunch at random times. But truthfully, there is no better feeling than sitting at a table with a group of people you feel not only get you, but go through the same struggles as you do. We all end up talking about work 90% of the time and it’s awesome. I do have to add though that it is equally important to have friends who are not entrepreneurs, because sometimes you need to step away from work and talk about things that have nothing to do with work. Just like taking vacations. It rejuvenates you. I try and have a couple of lunches each week with friends, no matter what we talk about, I always leave the afternoon feeling wonderful. Being mostly alone in my studio all the time, it’s necessary for my sanity.


1 thought on “How Entrepreneurship Really Affects Your Personal Life”

  1. Sierra,
    Great blog! Brutal honesty makes for compelling reading. Anyone who is self employed can identify with the ups and downs of being in charge of your own destiny. It’s not for the faint of heart. The down times can be very bleak, but the ups are the best feeling ever and make you drive for those ups, like a junkie. David taught me that about selling horses. He drove us like slaves when we worked for him, and I don’t regret cutting loose when we did, but I’m glad we put in those long hours ( and met your wicked cool Mom). It’s just a lot more rewarding to work for ourselves now that we’re older and wiser. We pick the pace. We make the decisions, good, bad, or indifferent.

    Happy for you that Manic Trout has been such a success!! Your hard work shows! Congratulations!!

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