I started Bumbershoot PR in 2009 when my son was just a toddler. I worked from a small desk in our bedroom which was next to his bedroom. I did this to be able to parent how I wanted to parent. To be around. I’m very glad I made that choice. I started to work more as he started to grow. My work schedule still mimics his school schedule. I am happy to have done it this way and don’t feel like I had to make sacrifices to do the “mom thing” and the “work thing” exactly how I wanted to do them. I know a lot of that is having a wonderful husband who is as dedicated and loving a father as I could ever dream. I am definitely grateful.
But back to 2009. Bumbershoot started to grow rather quickly. I didn't mean for it to grow, however I didn’t plan for it not to grow, either. Yes I always tell my clients they need a plan. But aside from “I work when Charlie’s in school,” I didn’t really have one. So without a plan I didn’t have parameters. Without a plan it was easy to let external opinions and expectations inform my decisions.
Bumbershoot was always small compared to the other OKC firms. But it was always too big for me, and I didn’t like it. Too much pressure to keep it going. Salary. Rent. Insurance. People. Too much stress. It’s not healthy.
I almost just shut it all down.
But I didn't. There was something in there telling me to hang on a bit longer. I could see the 10 year mark not far ahead. Should I wait until the 10th anniversary and then think about shutting it all down? In the genius words of OKCs favorite hero Russell Westbrook, why not?
And oddly enough, this also meant that I finally had a plan!
Not long before I made my plan to turn 10, I put myself through the Authentic Leadership program at Naropa University in Boulder. This helped me realize I didn’t have to do any of this for anyone but me.
Now, that’s freeing!
So here we are. Bumbershoot turns 10 this year, on my terms and with no big concerns about what others may think about it. I continue to love what I do and don't plan to stop anytime soon. For the past 18 months I've gradually scaled it back to being a solo practitioner, just like when I started. (Only this time my son’s not asleep in the next room.)
I’ve had to rethink it, though. How the company works. How I work. But really the new way is just my old way. It’s all very comfortable for me.
Since 2009 Bumbershoot has helped with communications, publicity, events and marketing efforts for dozens of amazing Oklahoma companies, issues, people and places. Of course, I can't do the same scale jobs within this new simplified structure. I can’t take on an account that requires 10 hands when I only have two. But I still like helping people. So how do I continue to develop professionally if it doesn’t mean growing and hiring and getting bigger and adding back in all the same stressors? How do I still help all the people I want to help, who have great stories to tell? How do I grow without growing?
Surprisingly, the answer was not to take on less, but to do more. In addition to continuing to work with a handful of traditional PR clients that I love, this year I've also added speaking at conferences, creating DIY curriculum, and training in-house marketing teams how to handle their own local publicity to my repertoire.
Teaching people to fish, and all that.
Basically Bumbershoot is the same as it’s always been—only completely different. If you're doing something wonderful that contributes to making the world a better place and you could use a hand in communicating that a little bit better, please reach out. I would love to chat with you about possibly working together in 2019.
And just for fun, here are a few lessons I learned this past year:
Don’t let outside expectations inform what you deem as personal success.
Demand payment on time when you’ve done a good job. Don’t let clients drag you out for months and put you in a financial bind just because they can’t keep their promises. Get your money, then get better clients.
Don’t expect anything in return when you work for free. Do it because you want to do it. Do it because you want experience in a particular vertical. Do it because it meets a societal need. Do it to be nice. But don’t do it under the notion that you’re going to wow them and they’ll start to pay you. Even if they say they will, they won’t. You’ve already worked for free. Anything you ask at this point really does seem outrageous.
What lessons did you learn in 2018?