Behind the Press | Vacations For The Self-Employed

View from the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress off the coast of Helsinki by Sycamore Street Press

Behind The Press is a blog series by SSP’s owners: Eva and Kirk Jorgensen. In it, we share our experience with letterpress, paper goods, running a small business, and work/life balance in the form of tips, how to’s, and more. We hope you enjoy! – K&E

Before I started working for myself, I had no idea how complex the idea of taking time off would become. I thought I knew, but I didn’t really know. I still don’t. It’s something I’ve had to fumble my way through ever since starting Sycamore Street Press.

For instance, a couple of years ago, Kirk and I decided it would be great fun to spend an entire month in New York. We were going out for the National Stationery Show, and signed up to do the Renegade Craft Fair and Brooklyn Flea on consecutive weekends. We rented an apartment in Brooklyn, bought our plane tickets, and figured that aside from the days we were actually participating in a show, we’d explore during the day and work in the evenings. It would be a delightful, light-hearted adventure. Oh yes.

Well. It may have turned out that way if we were freelance designers, needing only a laptop to do our work. Maybe. But, as you know, we make and sell tangible objects. Things that take up space and require packaging and shipping. So we ended up having to eat, sleep, live, store product, package product, make signage, etc… all from that tiny one room studio apartment underneath the B.Q.E. in Brooklyn. And of course, we had to schlep all that stuff back and forth to the post office, the Javits in Manhattan, the Flea & Renegade way over on the other end of Brooklyn, just by using our manpower and the subway. We knew all this going into it, but somehow, we hadn’t worried. It had seemed romantic. (What?!) Oh yeah, and I was pregnant, and a major heat wave hit the city, and we didn’t have air conditioning.

Now of course, we did have some wonderful times in New York. We hung out with old friends, ate some really delicious food, saw some amazing things. But would we do it over again? Never. Sure, I love getting to visit New York every year for the NSS, but I would never again bring all our actual product on a trip. And luckily, Karl does our packaging and shipping now, so we wouldn’t have to. Which is how, this fall, we were able to take our first real vacation in years — a vacation that’s main purpose wasn’t for work or to visit family. (Those can be great, too, but it’s different, right?) But even with employees to help out, it’s still a tricky thing to take time off. As you may know, I’m expecting our second child, and without any real maternity leave, I’m wondering how we’ll balance everything. We’ll figure it out eventually… but I have a feeling it’ll be a pretty crazy transition.

Stay tuned! I’m curious to see how other small business owners take to the issue, so I wrote a few of my friends and family members who work for themselves, and asked for their thoughts or tips. I’ll be sharing their responses with you on a follow up post later this week. – Eva

p.s. The quote on the top image comes from 30 Rock. Oh, Liz Lemon.



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  1. Nic says:

    Eva, I love this topic and can’t wait to hear more. I am still trying to figure out when I am “off the clock” at the end of the day and can hang out without thinking of work. I just did Renegade in San Francisco and though it was a blast, every day was exhausting and I didn’t get to see or do as much as I hoped.

    And I never realized you hauled everything around by subway when you were out there! Brave.

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