Hi there.

Happy Spring. Here in New York City we got a big dump of snow thanks to Nor’ Easter Toby. But it has mostly melted.

at the beginning of the storm

at the beginning of the storm

the morning after the storm

the morning after the storm

I got back at the beginning of the week from being away for 17 days. Away from home, away from Duncan. Needless to say it was tough. But it was for something very exciting…

Mr. SOTSS is opening a business. It’s a franchise called FASTSIGNS.

Welcome to FASTSIGNS :)

Welcome to FASTSIGNS 🙂

Basically a business that creates visual communications like signage for other businesses. In addition to traditional signage there is digital signage now added to the mix and even vehicle wraps. When Mr. SOTSS made the decision to do this I immediately jumped on board because I knew I could help him design the signs. He was really excited about the production part of it (actually building the signs). So this seemed like a great combo. This has been in the works for well over a year now and over that span it became clear that he, as the franchise owner, would be busy with many tasks at first, including the very important task of sales and that the production part is really more a dual role for the graphic designer…moi. I knew this would be a challenge for me, and as I learned while we were away, challenge is an understatement.

Let me back up for a minute and tell you about the trip which was to the corporate headquarters of FASTSIGNS, in Dallas, Texas. We had to complete a 2 week intensive training.

a little bag of snacks was given to each of us to help us get through the training weeks. And a BIG BINDER that was full of info by the time we left

a little bag of snacks was given to each of us to help us get through the training weeks. And a BIG BINDER that was full of info by the time we left

We set out back on March 2nd on a drive that would ultimately land us in Dallas, We were originally going to take our dogs which is why we opted to drive. We also thought it would be fun to see a bit of the country as we traveled (I think we covered 15 states total—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansa, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland).

I insisted on taking photos of each state. If I was driving then Mr. SOTSS took the photo

I insisted on taking photos of each state. If I was driving then Mr. SOTSS took the photo

We ended up not bringing the dogs (HARD THINGS #1: Leaving my dog for 17 days! and HARD THINGS #2: Leaving my home for 17 days when I’d never been away for longer than 8 days before.)

We started the drive through a snow storm and the first 6 hours of the trip were very stressful for us but more so for me. I legit had a panic attack in the car and asked if we could pull over. And so we found a WalMart and he got new windshield wipers and I took a few deep breaths. HARD THINGS #3 was definitely getting through the snow storm. There was an 18-wheeler trying to make it up a hill on the Interstate and kept rolling back. We were the vehicle directly behind it.

But after that we were smooth sailing and made it to Ohio where we slept for the night.

Happy road trip AFTER the storm

Happy road trip AFTER the storm

The next day we drove through Kentucky and into Tennessee and when we got to Nashville we walked around for a few hours.

Hi, from Nashville

Hi, from Nashville

nashville-cashmuseum

music-row

 

silly timer-camera stuff

silly timer-camera stuff

sweet treat stop at Goo Goo Shop

sweet treat stop at Goo Goo Shop

Hi, from Nashville

Hi, from Nashville

nashville-cashmuseum music-row

We hit the road and pulled into a hotel in Memphis for the night. The next morning we had breakfast in Memphis at the iconic Arcade diner where Elvis apparently frequented regularly.

Arcade Restaurant

Arcade Restaurant

big southern breakfast...

big southern breakfast…

We walked around the city for a bit and then continued on to Texas.

So Mr. SOTSS has an obsessing with maps and navigation. LOL!

So Mr. SOTSS has an obsessing with maps and navigation. LOL!

Yeah I was walkin in Memphis

Yeah I was walkin in Memphis

Lots of cool signs we saw in Nashville and in Memphis

Lots of cool signs we saw in Nashville and in Memphis

they made a museum out of the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed. The wreath is in front of his room. This was very moving for me.

they made a museum out of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed. The wreath is in front of his room. This was very moving for me.

We rented a condo that was very close to the corporate headquarters and started our training that Monday.

fastsigns-corp

I was both physically and mentally exhausted after just one day and by that Thursday I ended up in urgent care. I think a combination of tension, an uncomfortable bed, working on my laptop for so many hours and all the physical strain of trying to hand cut thicker sign materials all became too much and my neck/trap muscle started spasming. (I’m still struggling with pain now over 2 weeks later thanks to shoveling snow 🙂 HARD THINGS #4

Milkshakes after urgent care to make me feel better :)

Milkshakes after urgent care to make me feel better 🙂

while we were at the drug store to fill my prescription we both got a pair of readers because apparently mid 40s means eyesight decline. i've been struggling to read really small type and anything too close. Sigh!

while we were at the drug store to fill my prescription we both got a pair of readers because apparently mid 40s means eyesight decline. i’ve been struggling to read really small type and anything too close. Sigh!

The good news is we learned a ton and both feel much more confident and prepared to open officially for business. I can now use our large format solvent ink based printer, cut out vinyl with our plotter and mount and laminate with our monstrous laminator (ok this is currently my struggle bus but I refuse to let it beat me).

After you cut the letters out of vinyl you have to remove the excess vinyl so you can apply just the letters. Fun and tedious!

After you cut the letters out of vinyl you have to remove the excess vinyl so you can apply just the letters. Fun and tedious!

this is what I use to cut 4 foot by 8 foot pieces of material

this is what I use to cut 4 foot by 8 foot pieces of material

printing a banner

printing a banner

cutting red lettering out of vinyl

cutting red lettering out of vinyl

And this is where I have to grab the 4 foot by 8 foot pieces of material.

And this is where I have to grab the 4 foot by 8 foot pieces of material.

adding grommets to a banner

adding grommets to a banner

The bad news is I’m so busy with everything (I’m still running my business on nights and weekends) that I’m having a hard time keeping positive and find myself getting overwhelmed at times. I know it’s only natural. Still, I’m just taking this challenge head on and I know it will be so worth it for both of us when we can see the fruits of our labor reveal themselves. HARD THINGS #5

We managed to do a little sight seeing in Dallas and hike a little bit in the suburbs over the weekend in between training. We really needed that down time to regroup.

Taking a rest in the beautiful outdoor gardens at the Nasher Sculpture Center

Taking a rest in the beautiful outdoor gardens at the Nasher Sculpture Center

Nasher Sculpture Center

Nasher Sculpture Center

Nasher Sculpture Center

Nasher Sculpture Center

Perot Museum of Nature & Science

Perot Museum of Nature & Science

Perot Museum of Nature & Science

Perot Museum of Nature & Science

Catching a 3d movie about hurricanes at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science

Catching a 3d movie about hurricanes at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science

dallas-skyline

And sat in the very very top row to see a Mavericks game :)

And sat in the very very top row to see a Mavericks game 🙂

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

Oh, and guess what? I’m running again! I’ve been managing 2 short runs (between 2 and 4 miles) each week since the beginning of March. So far so good. It’s going to be a very slow climb but luckily I’m so busy with everything else I’m actually totally fine with that 🙂

a few texas runs and a couple of hotel treadmill runs in Louisiana and Ohio :)

a few texas runs and a couple of hotel treadmill runs in Louisiana and Ohio 🙂

 

Unfortunately this just means Sweat Out the Small Stuff will be falling to the bottom of the priority list for a while. HARD THINGS #6 I literally come home from working at FASTSIGNS and, after walking and feeding Duncan, work on my laptop for another 3-4 hours.

Have you ever been away from home for more than a week?

How do you handle changes in routine?

Have you ever owned your own business?

 

6 Comments

  1. This is so exciting!! Good luck to you both. From what I can tell you’re a hard-working, dedicated, organized, talented and tenacious lady. You’ll be successful! Keep us posted on Instagram (and here) when you can.

  2. Best of luck to you both on this new adventure! I love hearing about 40-somethings taking on a new business. I’m always so scared to take the risk but you give me hope that one day we will be brave enough to do the same thing! You seem very driven and talented so I know you will succeed in anything you put your mind to!

    • Yeah! A scary venture to begin in our mid-40s. Mr. SOTSS is extremely driven and as he says “I have no alternative….I have to succeed”. Thanks for your support! I will be happy in 6 months to post an update.
      Have a great weekend!

  3. My husband’s first job out of college was at Fast Signs. Good times 🙂 this was about 20 ish years ago and while he’s moved on, the business is still going strong and he’s still friends with the owner. Best of luck!

    • That’s great! I’m glad to hear that he’s still friends with the owner and that the business is still going strong! My college friend opened a Fast Signs about 17 years ago and is doing well too. He just moved to a bigger space and bought fancier equipment. Let’s hope we can be similar in success.

      Have a great weekend Alison!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *