Some important milestones have recently passed without any acknowledgement here on my blog—my daughter’s 12th birthday and the one-year anniversary of creating a Book for My Daughter. Both of these events deserve their own post—and they will get one—but not today. Instead, there is a different anniversary that I believe needs to be recognized—the 9th anniversary of the opening of our store Zin Home. The opening of this store has turned out to be one of the most significant events in our lives, and I think it’s about time that I told this part of our story.
In trying to decide where to begin, I realized that this story doesn’t actually begin with our decision to start our own business, nor does it begin with the first day we opened our doors. Instead, it begins a few years earlier when we were still living in Istanbul, Turkey. During that time, my husband had a career that he had worked extremely hard for—he was a certified Guide under the Ministry of Tourism. This basically meant that he would take large groups of English-speaking tourists—often from Australia, the United States, England, or South Africa—to all parts of the country for sometimes weeks at a time. I’m not certain which aspect of the job was his favorite—the incredible sights, the freedom it afforded him, or getting the chance to meet people from around the world—but I know that he loved it. That’s why the decision to start our lives over in the United States ended up being a sacrifice for him that neither one of us could have anticipated.
For the first two years here, my husband had a corporate job—he woke up early, wore a suit, and worked from 9 to 5—which was the complete opposite of his previously chosen career. Although he worked hard and did whatever was required of him to be successful, he was not happy. As time went by, I could see him slowly becoming a shadow of his former self-confident and energetic self. One day, after a particularly miserable night together, I called him at work to see if he’d meet me for lunch. While we sat drinking coffee at a nearby diner waiting for our lunches to arrive, I told him to quit his job. I told him that he should just go back after lunch and give them his notice—which he did. Although I knew that the financial well-being of our family depended on him having a job, I knew that our family would end up being hurt if he continued to work in one that made him so unhappy. I truly believed that once he was free from the company he worked for, he would be able to find a new path for himself, and that would ultimately be better for all of us.
A few weeks later, a close friend of ours—actually the friend who introduced us—told us he was moving to New Jersey and that he wanted to start a business. He had been a rug merchant in Istanbul, and although he had been living and working in Washington, D.C. for the last few years, he now wanted to open a Turkish imports store—and he wanted to do it with my husband. This was not exactly what I had in mind when I told him to quit his job, and I’ll admit, I was vehemently opposed to the idea. At the time, we had no savings, we lived in a rented house, we had a two-year-old daughter, and I was only just starting out in my career—I couldn’t see how we could even be thinking about opening a store. But my husband believed he could do it.
I’m not sure at what point I finally got on board with this new-found dream, but before I knew it, we were signing a lease, picking out paint colors, and deciding on a name. Then, six months after quitting his job, our store, Zin Home, was born.
My husband learned a lot those first few years. He learned that selling Turkish ceramics cannot sustain a business. He learned that a home store needs to have more than just rugs and glass lanterns. He learned that reinvention is what makes a business last, and that taking risks is sometimes necessary. And recently, after redesigning and re-launching our store’s website, my husband has learned what it takes to have an online business. I have also learned a lot since opening the store, the most important of which is to have trust and faith in my husband’s dreams.
Now, here we are, nine years later, and having survived the recession, we are finally starting to see our business grow again. My advice for my daughter is something that I learned that warm fall day when I told my husband to quit his job, and it is something I still try to live by. When the path you are on “hurts” you more than it rewards you, get off of it and try a new direction because sometimes the unknown turns out to be something you never knew you even wanted.