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Apr 16, 2018
Flora walked up to her best friend Jennifer, wondering why she was sitting alone in the park at night. “Hey, Jen,” she said, and settled beside her on the bench. “What’s going on? I thought you were on your way home.”
“I was,” Jen sighed, “But then I lost my energy and now I’m just here with my thoughts.”
“My life is a failure. I quit my job at a good accounting firm just to live my dreams. Who does that anymore? I was so stupid! I’m this close to bankruptcy, or worse, having to borrow money from my parents.”
Flora looked around, confused. “Excuse me, Miss, but have you seen my friend Jen? You may have the same name, but you’re not the girl I knew. Where’s that fighting spirit?”
“What’s the point?” she grumbled, “I’ve been at this for two years, going to flea markets and travelling around with my friends and family. Everyone loves my product, but no one wants to buy it. Talk about a mid-life crisis. What was I thinking?”
“Stop living in a pity party! Do you want my advice?”
“What do you know about selling custom t-shirts? No offense, but you’ve never been much of a salesperson.”
“You’re right, I don’t have the skills that seem to come naturally to you. What I do know is that what you’re currently doing isn’t enough anymore. The in-person, word of mouth approach is fine, but in today’s market you have to be a lot more aggressive. You’re not reaching the audience you should be.”
“I know what you’re going to say, and I refuse to update my website. It’s simple, just how I like it. I don’t know how to do all that fancy computer stuff, and I’m not going to pretend that I do and be something I’m not. That’s not the image I want to project.”
“You don’t have to lie,” Flora said, wrapping her arm around Jen’s shoulder, “But you do have to increase your online presence. There’s so much you haven’t tapped into yet that could be the key to your success. You’re a one-woman operation, and if you want your business to grow, you have to grow too.”
“I thought I could do this on my own,” Jen sighed, bowing her head, “I wanted to prove that I was capable.”
“You are capable, but every entrepreneur needs help. Do you think multi-billion-dollar companies only have one employee?”
“You might be right, but I don’t even know where to start.”
“Start with your son!” Flora chuckled, “Ask for his expertise with the basic computer stuff, and he might know someone to get you on social media and expand your reach. This is your best option, Jen, and you know it.”
“George is with his father this weekend, but I’ll see him next week when he comes home for winter break.”
“See? Things are starting to look up already.”
“Mom!” George beamed when he walked through the door. He ran to hug her and swung her around. “You look beautiful! Did you do something new to your hair?”
“Stop being so nice to me,” Jen grinned, leaning against the kitchen doorframe, “I know Flora called you and told you about my struggling business.”
“You should have told me yourself,” he said, kissing her cheek before walking to the fridge. “Bring out your laptop. Let’s get started on your website. It’s about time you came into the twenty-first century.”
Jen smiled and set up her computer at the kitchen table. “All right, son, educate me!”
For the next two hours, George tried to explain how to create an updated website and social media accounts for her business T-Shirt Town. Her brain hurt trying to keep up with all the information being given. After the website was done and her accounts were made, she screamed in frustration.
“I’m sorry,” she said, resting her head on his shoulder, “I’m just so angry at myself. This stuff seems so simple and I can’t comprehend the most basic details. This is hopeless. I should just give up and go back to my day job.”
“Flora was right,” George scoffed, “You’re not the Jen you used to be.” George left the room and went out with his friends.
Jen ran his words through her head endlessly, while trying to figure out her new accounts. She knew he was right. She was done being weak and complaining when she should be taking action. So, she decided to put a job posting up for an unpaid internship. The intern would help her update her website and social media, while helping her design her shirts. Usually, she drew all her designs on paper and then she’d iron the image on the fabric. If her intern could help her update her production line, that would be a bonus.
No one applied to her online post, which Flora helped her create over the phone. Knowing that her money was about to run out, she took a part-time job at a grocery store. That way she’d still have time to work on her business.
One night, checking her e-mail, Jen noticed a reply to her posting:
To whom this may concern,
I don’t have much business experience, but I know how to make fun and flashy social media posts. I’m hard working, and easy to get along with. If you give me the opportunity to learn from you, I will give it my all to help T-Shirt Town thrive.
Thank you for your interest in this position. I’d be thrilled to meet with you and discuss this position further. If you’re available on Friday, we can set up a place to meet up.
Jennifer – T-Shirt Town C.E.O.
Jen anxiously awaited the arrival of Elizabeth. They were meeting at her favorite coffee shop, and she’d already had two coffees and a scone. “Hello!” Elizabeth said, running up to her. “I’m so sorry I’m late. This is so unlike me. I had to drop my brother off at day care and I had no idea I had to talk to his teacher about his biting problem…”
“Elizabeth, it’s okay,” Jen said, standing up to shake her hand. “Life happens. I love what you’re wearing. That suit is so vibrant, yet still professional.”
“Oh, thank you,” Elizabeth replied, shaking her hand firmly. They both sat down and started chatting about the business. “I know I’m only eighteen, so I don’t have as much life experience as you… Wait, I don’t mean to say you’re old. I just know you’re older than me, and someone with their own business must have lots of wisdom to offer.”
“You’re rambling,” Jen laughed, “You sound like my friend Flora.”
“Is she beautiful and sweet too?” Elizabeth asked, trying to hide her flushed cheeks with her scarf.
“Absolutely! Don’t be nervous, Elizabeth. I like you. My business is only me right now, so any kind of help is excellent. Whatever you can teach me, we will take it in strides. I have a lot of catching up to do where the internet is concerned.”
“I live on the internet, so that’s not a problem.”
“The position doesn’t pay anything, but it might if my business improves. You can work from home, or you can come to my home office if you need a quiet place. Let’s have a meeting every Friday at this coffee shop, or on the phone if that works better.”
“That sounds like a great idea! I can’t wait to start.”
Jen gave Elizabeth access to her accounts, then they went their separate ways. Over the few weeks, Elizabeth learned everything about the business and updated the social media accounts every chance she could.
Soon, the accounts were bursting with likes, follows, comments, and many more interactions. Jen was impressed with her ability to juggle the online presence, while providing ideas for new t-shirts. The best idea was his and her t-shirts with hearts on them. Her followers loved her shirts, and the sales slowly started growing.
“My sales have doubled in the last three weeks!” Jen exclaimed, talking to Elizabeth on the phone. “You might even get your first paycheck soon.”
“That’s so great, Jen!” Elizabeth squealed, “I’m so glad I could help. Balancing school and work has been a breeze. I love working with you. I learned so much this month.”
“I’m happy to be able to say the same!” Jen smiled. “My success is all thanks to you. I thought I could do this alone, but I’m glad my family pushed me to take a risk. I used to be spontaneous, and you’re helping me find the old me again. Thank you, Elizabeth.”
“You’re welcome. So, one last thing before I go. I’ve been coordinating with volunteer organizations, and I have a massive order for one hundred shirts due next week. All of them have to be aquatic themed. Are you up to the challenge?”“Bring it on, Elizabeth, I’m up for anything.”