Today marks the 10 year anniversary of two kids filing some paperwork at Western New England Law School. David and I were younger than the graduate students who were learning how to file for a business license, and I remember thinking that their suits didn’t fit them that well. They asked us to think about how we were going to split the shares. I don’t think we really understood what shares were. They tried to explain that if we were going to sell the business or one of us left then the shares would be really important. We didn’t think too highly of either of those options. So we split them 67% to David and 33% to me. Neither of us had any money or any idea how to run a business, so it didn’t seem that important. Most of the rest of the process was stacks of pages that needed to be approved and signed. I did my best to read them through — a practice I still do with all our legal paperwork.
In the beginning, every idea and every design felt like our best thing yet. We stayed up until 3 and 4 in the morning working on the next design so that we could bring the sample to NYCC and show it off. I distinctly remember that I lost weight before the company’s first time trip to NYCC, because I was working so much and would forget to eat. For a hobbit like me, this is a big deal. The following year we only stayed up until 2am the night before NYCC. I think the year after that maybe it was midnight. Little by little we became better at planning our time, and we became realists. Sometimes I miss the days of headlong enthusiasm, although I don’t think I could live through them now. That’s the sort of thing that is made for a 22 year old.
I’ve written a lot of retrospectives in the 10 years that Volante Design has been around. I’ve referred to this business as my kid, as my obsession, as a passion, as a calling, as a community. What really stands out to me now is the difference from one year to the next. It feels a little like watching a tree grow. If you walk by it everyday on your way out the door it changes with the seasons, but you barely perceive the changes that happen year over year. When you look back at a photo of your house 10 years ago, that tree looks totally different. Only with that perspective can you really appreciate what has passed.
This year the collective team stands out to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve had kids since last year, and maybe it’s because I’ve stepped down as Marketing Director so that I can be a better CEO. It’s no longer just David and me making the big choices. I find myself teaching more, doing less, trying to help others with the doing. I think this is how we grow. I think this is how we evolve. Maybe it took David and me being completely overrun with having twins to let other people help run our company. We’re trying to be an organization that can scale. One that has directors and leaders who can handle the key areas that David and I used to spend most of our time working on. It’s not easy to try and articulate why you would do it a certain way, and why these new leaders need to find a way to do it that’s right for them and still fits with the Volante Design we’ve spent all these years building. They need to find their own way to sit at the table. We are growing new muscles as a team. If you’d asked me five years ago if I thought we could share the management of certain aspects of Volante Design, I’d have said hypothetically yes, but I can’t imagine how we would get there.
It’s a new perspective to be removed a little from the day to day work of keeping things running. I am still helping to shape the company, less by writing individual posts and more by working on the future, the products, the big questions: how do we scale up, what’s missing, and what’s next? I hope I can do what this team needs from me. I hope I can grow to be the CEO that they need.
Maybe because the anniversary of Volante Design happens in the spring when the world is starting to blossom again, but it feels like an exciting time is right around the corner. We have made it through the winter and now we get to kick ass.
Volante Design, Inc.