Don’t Look Back with Regrets
For his store, my grandfather imported items from Mexico; clothing, jewelry, pottery, all different types of items packed in sawdust and wood shavings. I would go treasure hunting through the ‘Easter basket grass’ trying to find treasures and treats. In 1958, those items from Mexico were high-end compared with what we get from there today.
When I was 10, we went to Florida to close the business after Grandfather’s stroke. While things were still in flux, items were still being delivered to his store. I loved opening the boxes with my mother, seeing what was inside, working on window displays…basically playing store in the real world.
What made you decide to finally realize your lifelong dream?
My mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s. Once when I was visiting them, she couldn’t figure out what to do with her mug…she couldn’t find the handle. She needed one with two handles.
That was the beginning of what is now Granny Jo Products, a company with items targeted to senior citizens. We sell a lot of our products at trade shows and online.
What were the specific obstacles that you faced?
I had tremendous support from my family. Our dilemma was figuring out where would someone buy our products? We sell items for grandparents. There are gift stores for babies and little kids, but not for people at the end of the age spectrum. That’s the biggest obstacle. The market is there, but where do you sell?
There is always fear and trepidation when you are starting something new. Finances were a huge concern. Everything is expensive. It costs even if you don’t have a brick and mortar store.
We invested a lot of our retirement money in this. You can’t quit. You have to keep going, we have so much invested in it. We get a lot of great letters from customers. Amazon.com and catalog companies are huge for us.
What helped you get through them?
I’ve never been short on confidence. People would say, ‘Why would you want to start doing this when people your age are retiring and enjoying life?’ This is what I’ve always wanted to do and it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it. Every now and then I think, ‘What was I thinking?’ but it’s just a fleeting thought.
My husband is very encouraging. Knowing you are helping someone erases the fear. If you have validation, from your customers or the people you are trying to serve, there is nothing to be afraid of.
Nobody gets rich quick, you have to be in it for the long haul. I am enjoying it. I love it. This is what I’ve always wanted to do.
Overnight successes can sometimes take 20 years to happen.
Were there people that tried to discourage you?
My mother was the only one that said, ‘What are you doing?’
How did you feel when you finally accomplished your lifelong dream?
I think when anybody opens the door, either online or manually, it’s exhilarating. It’s validating and rewarding. It’s saying this is my turn, this is my time. If I don’t take this chance and do everything I can with it, I’ve got no one to blame but myself.
The exhilaration is the hard work that goes into it. Even with a website business, you have changes to make. You have to stay current. You have to be willing to continue to work at it and modify things or you lose momentum. If you lose momentum, someone will walk right by you and take your sale.
What advice would you give to others who are contemplating finally living their dream?
One thing I tell people, there are still 24 hours a day. You don’t want to look back with regrets. There is nothing to stop you from doing what you want to do, except yourself. So go for it. You don’t want to look back and say, ‘I wish I had done this…or that…’
If you have the emotional support, financial support and are willing to take risks, go for it. If you have the support network, then go for it. It’s better to try than to have regrets.
People who have had dreams and didn’t have the opportunity to go for it…that’s sad. You need someone to say, you can do it…you can do it…you can do it!
To learn more about Jo-Ann and Granny Jo Products, visit her site.