We have so many crazy and exciting things we are looking forward to this year. THIS IS THE BIG UPDATE, WE’VE BEEN PROMISING TO TELL SOME OF YOU. TLDR? nah, read if you care, don’t if you don’t.
We left Los Angeles early December to take a hiatus from the city for a few months. We worked out a deal with our landlord to leave our lease early so we could afford to travel rather than try to to do that and pay $1650 for a 3 bedroom (half the median cost of 3 bedroom in Los Angeles) in South Central Los Angeles. Our neighbors were great, we’ll never forget them. Believe it or not, the crime rate was lower than were we lived in Kansas City and definitely lower than Hollywood. Ask anyone who’s moved to Los Angeles from out of state and they’ll tell you that time moves faster there. The pace is exhausting at times, invigorating at others. Almost everyone who moves there ends up homeless at least once or living in their car & many have to move away and back multiple times before they get settled. You can make it in Los Angeles, you just have to want it more than anything else. We learned that entertainment industry jobs are the easiest kinds of gigs and jobs to get out there (we booked Makeup jobs on small films pretty regularly and Logan, scare actor gigs.) Our biggest pitfall was trying to do anything there that worked in the midwest. Everything works completely differently. It might as well be a foreign country with how different it is.
We will be back in Los Angeles sometime in March and will at some point be getting a studio there that we will stay in part time while we are in town (when we aren’t staying with friends and family) for business & events and we will likely rent it out while we are elsewhere. Because, let’s face it, we will be in Los Angeles a lot, probably enough to say we are living there part-time at some point. At this point, we have no interest in living there full time again. We love Los Angeles, but there’s always so much to do that it’s hard to get anything done there. We have shit to do. We have an empire to build.
We’ve been visiting family and friends in Texas, Kansas & Missouri (though we regretfully have not made it to Florida yet) and are pursuing new opportunities to expand our businesses. We have our makeup line, Belladonna’s Cupboard in 6 new stores as of the New Year, saw tremendous (unexpected but not without growing pains and setbacks) growth with our subscription boxes (Sub/Cult Boxes & Crazy Kids Box) & are about to release the 4th issue of Crazy Bitch Magazine Admin soon. My oldest son started Kindergarten in a language immersion school and will be continuing in a leadership Magnet school in our new neighborhood in Wichita until next fall when he will resume his Spanish language immersion studies at a different school in Wichita most likely.
Wait, what? Wichita?
That’s what I said. I’ve never been one to turn down opportunities, in fact there are projects that will begin this year that will take us to finding a permanent home base in Oregon (where we can quickly commute to and from Los Angeles for gigs & events every few weeks-that’s a thing, a lot of people do it) in a couple of years. Until then, for at least the next year and a half, we will be in Wichita. That gives us time to really focus on growing our businesses and gives Ivan at least one full year in the same school before we move on. We are renting and then probably buying a large 4 bedroom house in a “nice area” (first time that’s happened in our adult lives) for less than half the cost of our tiny 3 bedroom crumbling apartment in Los Angeles – if you take into consideration the more than $1000/month we spent on gas to get around L.A.
The owner of the house in Wichita wants to do owner financing, which is a boon to us because this nameless project mentioned above, involves real estate and this gives us a rare and blessed opportunity to start building up a track record that we can take to investors when we leave here. That’s not why we are setting up in Wichita for now though. The reasons why, mostly boil down to a meeting with our business mentor where I asked him “How the Hell are you happy in Kansas?” I asked him this because in many ways he’s like us, eccentric, has his own style, doesn’t shy away from controversy and he moved out to Los Angeles to work in the music industry when he was younger & ended up living in his car also (it’s a common thing, it really is,) before becoming very successful in and ultimately leaving the music industry by choice. But now he’s here, and why? Apparently, Wichita is very supportive of entrepreneurs. We also didn’t get looked down on or ostracized for being alternative while looking for a place to live here on a whim (another first, and also in a “nice area”! Wow!”). There are a ton of entrepreneurs, really successful ones like our mentor, some a great deal moreso. There are ton of national and international well known brands that started here. These are the people we want to connect with, learn from, and emulate. Here, they are accessible, and we are all ears. We went from the mere suggestion 2 Mondays ago to the next day idly looking on a whim to getting accepted for the place immediately BECAUSE we are entrepreneurs (rather than that being a red flag and a hindrance like it was in Los Angeles) and all this despite our poor credit history which we were totally up front about. The only trouble was, we didn’t have the money to move in. After coming all the way from Los Angeles, many repairs on our car which we badly need to stay in business (and more repairs still need done), Christmas, and helping family out when we got here, we were tapped out. We needed $2200 in a week to get this place. We sold more makeup in a week than we ever have and even surpassed our record week of 10 subscription boxes in a week. That, combined with Angela Krout who let us set up and sell our makeup Mojo Mamas without charging us, another friend who stepped in and let us borrow $200 and a friend who also owns a makeup line, Kimberly Kandi Estrada owner of Too High Cosmetics – T.H.C running a sale on our behalf and donating $300 from the $460 she sold in only a few hours, we made it and got the money in time! Now it’s time to focus, give the kids some stability in school in an area that doesn’t judge them for having long hair or us for being different. The battle isn’t over but I feel like we’ve won because of how lucky we’ve been. We are just so grateful.
Many people think that if you run a small business, you’re rich or you automatically must have access to investors or something. There couldn’t be a more wrong perception about the majority of small business owners. Most work long hours (80/week or more), many never stop working. There’s no work/life balance often, at least not until down the line when the business has more money coming in and some things can be outsourced and automated. It takes a certain kind of crazy to choose that lifestyle, and it’s hardly a choice, anyone who’s in it will tell you there’s no other way they could be. We are cut from a different cloth, I guess. This is why it is so important to us to support our friends who are artists, makers and entrepreneurs. Without entrepreneurs, innovation wouldn’t happen, industries wouldn’t change, jobs wouldn’t be created. Everyone plays a valuable role and it takes all kinds, but often times people understand less about the entrepreneurial types than the employee & career climber types.
That’s why it bears mentioning.
Now we have to hunker down and focus harder than we’ve ever focused before. We have to get our car fixed, furnish this house somehow since we had pared down to nothing but what would fit into our SUV, and make enough money that Beth and I can fly to Vegas next month for a meeting we have scheduled to pitch our makeup line in person to a chain of high end alternative stores that is interested in carrying our products. We now have to work harder than ever.
Growing up in Topeka, KS after moving there from New Orleans, I never heard much about Wichita and certainly not anything exciting. I’ve always felt stifled by the attitudes that carry the Midwest in most places like Topeka and even Lawrence and KC. People give lip service to entrepreneurs it seems but will always support the big brands and stores first. There’s also a pervasive view that you are somehow less if you don’t work a normal 9-5 or look and think like average. It takes all kinds, people, and so far Wichita doesn’t seem to have much in common with the things I didn’t like about those other places in Kansas. Maybe that’s why people in those places don’t like Wichita. That should have been a sign, I guess. Wichita is not for them and they are not for it. We are not for them and they are not for us. As an added bonus (because I’ve never felt that geography or distance needs to stifle or limit relationships), for at least the next year and half we will be in short driving distance to family & friends we have missed dearly and are very much looking forward to seeing more of in KC, Atchison, Leavenworth and Topeka. After all, 3 hours is a common drive length in Los Angeles rush hour and all of those places are nearer to Wichita than 3 hours away. Practically right around the corner, really. Bonus points: we are also only 6 hours from my brother and sister in Texas and only double that to my beloved New Orleans. Biggest downside: I miss the ocean and mountains and of course, we will miss our friends & family in California when we aren’t there! That’s what travel Is for though, and travel is my lifeblood anyway.
Thank you all for your love, your support, your kindness. I also hope that we can give it back and help out those who’ve been there for us more than ever this year.