3 Most Valuable Lessons in 3 Years of Business

by Ari Takata-Vasquez

Shout out to Lindsay Arakawa for our first press feature and this photo on her blog Growing East (she's now a social media editor for Refinery 29 continuing her journey East in New York).

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that these photos were from three years ago.  Sometimes looking back I'm not quite sure what possessed me to take such a blind leap of faith in not only starting a business but a brick and mortar one at that. But, whatever it was, I'm so grateful I followed this path. The past three years have been incredibly rich with experience, good people, and valuable lessons. Looking at these photos I wish I could reach back into time and tell past-Ari all the things she didn't know yet. In addition to telling her that her black hair looks better than this orangy-thing, I would tell her to relax, enjoy the journey, and let go because control is just an illusion. Here are the three most valuable lessons I've learned in the first three years of Viscera: 

Side note before I jump into it, we're having our three-year anniversary party 12/1 from 7-10pm. I'd love to see you there. 

Enjoy The Journey 

If only I knew that getting the shop going would be the easy part. Running a small business is a marathon, but as an eager 20-something year old I wanted to treat it like a sprint. I started the shop, got the lease, built out the space, and was up and running in six months. At the time it felt like I HAD to be open in December or I would be setting up the shop for failure, but in retrospect, taking a little extra time and building in some breathing room wouldn't have been the end of the world. I get so much joy looking back at these old photos because I remember just how excited, nervous, and proud I was of Viscera. I now know I should have taken a little more time to bask in the victories because (like with anything) there will be highs and lows and you have to remind yourself of the wins to keep your chin up through the bumpy parts. 

Resilience is Key  

Speaking of low points-- they will ALWAYS be there. No matter how much you prepare, think you've done all your homework, or feel like something is foolproof, it's not. I could have never predicted half of the things that have happened here (both good and bad) but in looking at the back, remembering the value of resilience is key. Success is not measured in whether you fall down, but if you manage to dust yourself off and pick yourself back up. I, like any entrepreneur, have had days when I ask why I didn't just keep my 9-5? But then I remember that with the highs come the lows and just like anything else it'll pass. So the next time you go through a rough patch that it's temporary and you are amazing and valuable no matter what happens. Be kind to yourself.

Value Has Nothing To Do with Money 

Oh, and while we're talking about value, this is the biggest lesson. Value has absolutely nothing to do with money. Maybe this sounds common sense to some of you, or maybe too woo-woo for others, but it's the most valuable lesson I've learned and helps me to stay resilient. Our value (and values), both in a personal sense and in the value of the things we own are not intrinsically tied to a dollar amount.  In the business world, it can be easy to get caught up in comparing revenues or be jealous of someone who makes more money than you, but taking a step back, it's  important to remember that money isn't everything. What makes something valuable is the care and considerating that goes into it. This goes back to the value of creativity and learning to embrace the creative potential we all have within us. When someone comes into the shop and finds something they love, they don't love it because of the price sticker that's on it--they love it because they know it's made by a real person, with care. They love it because they know it'll do something to improve their lives and make them feel their best. 

With all of this said, I still have a ton more learning to do and this is just the beginning. Thank you to everyone who supported Viscera and allowed me to pursue this passion project. I wouldn't have been able to do any of this without you all. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making these first three years so incredible.