PP 001: Kim Sutton’s Background
Before I say anything about this episode, I want to explain the echo-y (is that a word?) sound quality, as this will NOT be a regular feature of the show.
Have you ever had tons of ideas but little time? This seems to be a normal for me. The week this episode was recorded, my time allowance for recording was severely cut when ALL THREE of our littles (ages 3 and then 21 month old twins) came down with a nasty stomach virus.
Let me just say… It was lovely.
So here I was, sitting in a park surrounded by soccer teams practicing, itchy as all heck to get my recordings done, and it occurred to me…
This isn’t about being perfect. It’s about Positive Productivity.
I downloaded an app for my iPhone, rolled up the car windows, and started recording!
Is the quality great? No. But it isn’t (completely, cough cough) horrible either.
The transcription below is a word-for-word transcription. Reading it I realize just how much I ramble, but I’m not going to clean up the transcription to appease the grammar and speech police.
Over time I hope to become more… eloquent? But for now, this is the authentic me.
Without further ado, here is a little background on me so you can feel a more connected!
Listen as @thekimsutton shares all in episode 001 of the Positive Productivity #podcast! http://www.thekimsutton.com/pp001Click To Tweet
Hey everybody and welcome back to another episode of Positive Productivity! This is your host, Kim Sutton.
I am so happy to have you here today, and I realized that in the introductory episode I really didn’t tell you much about myself. So that’s what this episode is going to be all about. And I don’t have any notes, so pardon me if I ramble at all but I’m not really a note type of person. I like to just talk and see where my heart takes me.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am the owner and founder of Sutton Creative Studios and Sutton Strategic Solutions. Sutton Creative Studios was founded in 2012 as a virtual assistance and graphic design agency. And then Sutton Strategic Solutions broke off of Sutton Creative Studios in 2015 and covers the social media marketing, digital marketing, Infusionsoft consulting and launch consulting that I am very passionate about today.
So if any of you are wondering how I actually started my business, and why I started my business, you may be shocked to hear that I started it with my husband, Dave, who you’ll hear about plenty. We started it because we actually needed more money.
I have my degree in interior architecture from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and I was an interior designer for about nine years in Chicago, New York City, Greenwich, Connecticut and here in Ohio where I live now, where in 2008 I was unfortunately let go as a result of the recession. I was designing schools throughout the state – public schools – and many of the projects that I was working on were funded by taxes. So, when people started losing their jobs they didn’t want to approve the tax increases to pay for the school improvements and the projects that I was going to be working on were cancelled. So, I lost my job.
Now, let me tell you – this was one of the best things to happen to me. I didn’t know my husband at the time. I was previously married, and had two children – my older boys, who are now 10 and 13 – and I was travelling an hour each way, to work.
Now, keep in mind, I live outside of Dayton, Ohio. If you’re not familiar, it is a quiet city, or a quieter city. And when I say I drove an hour to work, I mean I drove an hour through cornfields.
I really didn’t know many people in my area because we had moved here in 2004 for my job, and every waking hour seemed to be filled with either driving to work, working, driving home, or hustling and bustling to get my kids to and from where ever they needed to go.
When I lost my job in 2008, it opened up a whole new a world for me. I was able to build connections that I didn’t even know were in the area and a whole new part of my life was started. And I have to credit losing my job to being where I am today.
As a matter of fact, I ran into my former boss at the grocery just a couple weeks ago and I nearly broke down crying – she nearly broke down crying – when I actually thanked her for firing me.
And yes, I have to admit, it was partially firing, partially being laid of. There was a lot going on. Maybe I’ll get into that in a future episode… Or… I know I will get into that in a future episode.
But, it was a big, heartfelt, “Thank you,” Because I know the way my life was going when I was working in that job as an interior designer… it wasn’t a good place to be.
Now, I have to back up a little bit. During the summer of 2005, I was pregnant with my second son, Robert, and I somehow got the idea to purchase a Christmas present a little bit early for my mother-in-law at the time. And it was a scrapbooking book. And I was flipping through it – I wasn’t a scrapbooker, I still don’t really scrapbook now, but I saw a die cutting tool in the magazine and I was infatuated. I knew I had to have one, but money was tight.
So, after I purchased the tool – it was $80 – I felt I needed to pay it off. I felt like I needed to use it to make money back to pay for the tool.
So, throughout the rest of that summer and right up until the time that my son was born, and even after my son was born, I was up all hours, despite working a full-time job – and as I already mentioned, driving an hour back and forth – I was up all the time that I wasn’t working cutting die cuts for people.
I was not charging enough, but orders were flying out the door. And by not charging enough, I mean. I was charging $1 for ten of these little, very precise die cuts, which at the time probably took me about an hour for 10 die cuts to make.
Now, you can do the math. $1 for an hour of time really… well, it’s not worth it.
So, lesson one to take away today is – Value your time!
So, fast forward to when I lost my job. I tried for a little bit to still be an interior designer. That’s what my degree was in, and my now ex-husband believed that because I had student loan debt, and because I had a degree, I should still be pursuing that field, but honestly, I just wasn’t passionate about it.
So, with a garage full of inventory – because gradually over time I had started purchasing inventory so I wouldn’t have to be making die cuts all the time – I resurrected, or grew, my scrapbooking supply store.
Even in the best of times I was probably only making about $.25 a day, and no, I’m not exaggerating. I eventually had to move my office out of my home and I rented an office space which took out a big chunk, and that meant having to buy a whole new internet and a whole lot of other bills that were associated. I had to employ a couple people to help me keep up with orders, and sadly, yes, I was only making about $.25 a day.
So, in 2010, late 2010, when my first marriage fell apart, that business was closed. I was unemployed, and I did not know what to do.
So, I’m going to speed this story up just a little bit. I ended up rolling burritos at Chipotle, and let me tell you, I was NOT a good burrito roller. They ended up kicking me off the line and putting me back on the cash register.
I became an administrative assistant at a local parts warehouse for American Honda. And then in late 2012, after remarrying – finding the love of my life and marrying Dave -we needed some extra money because of some events that had happened in Dave’s life.
Dave had been in the Air Force for seven years. He was not a college graduate, and unfortunately for him the best luck that he was having jobs was with temp agencies.
Now, for any of you who have worked for temp agencies in the past, you know that stability is not really consistent with temp agencies.
When your contract is done, your contract is done, and you hope – if not pray – that another job is going to come along quickly. And that’s what was consistently happening with Dave.
Between when we got together – in a matter of just a couple of years – Dave had about 10 contracts expire, and finally, in about August of 2012, we decided that it was time for him to pursue his dreams. And that’s what he did.
Dave went back to school with his GI Bill and Post 9/11 benefits – as a result of being a Veteran – and pursued his dream of becoming an independent game developer. And that’s what he does today.
Because he only had three years to complete his degree, he compressed the four year program into three and began working on that full-time, day-in and day out. And as a result, he wasn’t able to work a job, and unfortunately the money that I was making as an administrative assistant just wasn’t cutting it.
So, that’s when I set up my Elance account, and started putting out proposal after proposal to people who were looking for virtual assistants and graphic design help.
Now, let me tell you – what happened next we totally weren’t expecting. I quickly got hired for my first project, and then one turned into two and two turned into four – and you get the picture. But within two months I was contracted out for 80 hours a week of work, and by contracted, I mean the clients had committed to it, but there wasn’t necessarily 80 hours a week of work. But I had no other choice to quit my full-time job.
If I was going to make this a thing, and we really did want me to be working full-time from home by the following June – and at this point it was only November – but if I really wanted to make a go of this, this was the time to do it, because we had the contracts and it was time to push “Go.”
If any of you are listening and you are interested in virtual assistance work, Elance is no longer in existence. They merged with oDesk and are now Upwork, and Upwork is a great place to get started. I can’t give you an updated rate on what you have to pay to get your profile set up, but it’s very affordable. At the time when I started my account on Elance, I could have gone with a free account, but I decided to pay $10 a month because it game me more proposals, or more credits for proposals, and those credits paid off.
Now I’ll get into proposals in a later episode, but what I do want to say is, please do not use a cookie-cutter, very boring proposal if you decide to go this route. People do want to know about you. You don’t need to give your whole life story (like I’m giving to you right here), but yea, it’s a great place to get started if you really want to start your own business or just make a little bit of money on the side.
It’s been four years since we started our business, in September 2012, and I say “our” just because Dave really is my Chief Emotional Support, even if he’s not active in the business. But the four years since we started the businesses have been very exhilarating, very full, very lively, I’ve met a lot of great people, but we’ve also had some tremendous changes in our personal life.
Prior to opening up the business, we had just gotten married earlier in 2012, and we decided that we wanted to add another child to our family. We both came into the relationship with two children each, and we wanted to have one more together. One who wouldn’t have to go from home to home every other weekend, or possibly not see us at all, but we found this to be a challenge.
Now, at the risk of being very personal with you, Dave and I didn’t have any problem getting pregnant, but staying pregnant was a huge issue.
In 2012, we suffered from four miscarriages, and this was all prior to me giving my notice at American Honda that I was leaving to start our business.
But wouldn’t you know… As soon as I gave my notice, we found out that we were pregnant again.
Nine months and ten days later, our daughter, Nevaeh was born, and shortly thereafter we moved out of our apartment into our own home. It was perfect for us and for the three kids who are with us at least half time, and we felt extremely blessed. We decided our family was complete.
Well, let me tell you, God has a sense of humor.
In May of 2014, we found out that we were pregnant again. And we weren’t only pregnant with one, but we were pregnant with two. In January of 2015, David the Third and Zelda, yes, she’s named after the video game but please don’t tell my aunt, so David and Zelda were born.
So today, I am not just a mom of 2, but I am a mom of 5. I am a mompreneur who has two businesses; an active team; I’m a podcast host, an aspiring author, and here I am talking to you about positive productivity.
If you take anything away from this episode, what I want you to take away is that you can do ANYTHING that you set your heart to.
Now, if you haven’t heard the background noise, I want to give great credit to Matt Mawhinney and the team at PodAssist.com because throughout this whole episode I have actually been sitting in a parking lot, at the park, while my 10 year old is at soccer practice. Because despite wanting to record this podcast episode for the past five days, I have had three sick littles, and that’s how I’ll refer to them in the future. The littles are all three and younger.
See, I deviated there from my point.
But what I want you to get out of this is that you can do anything that you set your heart to.
Even if it means you have to take your iPhone to the local park to record an audio for a giveaway or a lead magnet. If you want to record your own podcast, you can do it no matter how challenging your life is.
You can have five kids, you can have ten kids, you can have zero kids. But positive productivity, to me, means actively pursuing your passions, despite whatever hurdles are thrown at you.
If you want to find out more about me – and I appreciate you listening to this much of a ramble about my story, but if you want to find out more, I invite you to visit my website at thekimsutton.com or you can reach me on twitter – and my username over there is @thekimsutton. And if you have any questions about how to get your own business started, if you have questions about how to do it, or how to maintain your sanity as a mompreneur, as a dadpreneur, as a parentpreneur, if you have questions about any part of positive productivity, please just get in touch.
I am not just doing this podcast for me, but I’m also doing it for you.
So to wrap episode number 001, thank you so much for being here. Please give your reviews and ratings and comments. You can do that on iTunes or Stitcher or visit my website.
And I just want to say thank you again.