I lost my job yesterday.
It’s not a huge job, mind you. I’ve been working on and off at our local children’s art studio for five years. Jill and I started working together after she allowed me to host a Kyle Vincent concert at her studio in late 2006. I didn’t know her then; a friend I’d met at my son’s preschool did, though, and when I wondered if all of my girlfriends would fit into my small roomed house for such a “living room show”, she suggested Jill’s studio close by. By the end of the event Jill was talking to Kyle about business, and he mentioned that I did his website and graphic design. A few weeks later, she approved my mock up for her site, and we’ve been working together ever since.
Jill put me to work doing anything my skill set allowed. First the website, then her accounting and some clerical work, and finally, some teaching of the classes she offered to the children of our town. It was extremely part time, but perfect for my busy life that didn’t allow me to work outside of my childrens’ school hours and sometimes required me to be available even then to meet all of their needs. It was my first foray outside of my home since I’d moved to Connecticut, and it was just enough to make me feel like I wasn’t allowing my skills to evaporate while tending to my children’s lives so fully.
Working for Jill introduced me to other business owners in town too, and before long I had a small roster of website design clients. With Jill’s studio being popular and well known in town, all I had to do was drop her name and jobs came my way with very little effort. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was enough to feel like I was doing something meaningful in my off hours.
Unfortunately, since I did Jill’s books for her, I could see that the economic crash of 2008 took a huge toll on Jill’s business. Children’s art classes were a pricey luxury that most parents were easily able to slash out of their budgets. Jill responded as any shrewd business person would by cutting her own costs. One by one I saw most of the seasoned teachers leave. Jill taught everything she could herself, and when she couldn’t, she hired cheaper college and high school students to fill in.
And for a while, that was enough to stay afloat. I marveled at how her summer camps and her birthday party businesses kept her in the black. She bought a kiln and added paint your own pottery aspect to her studio, which brought income in during the long stretches between semesters when the bank account often grew thin. But she also quietly put the property up for sale, waiting to see if anyone would be interested in buying the business.
No one was. After two years on the market and over $100,000 in reductions of the price, she made the hard decision to close the studio. I was unprepared, when I went in for my usual Thursday perusal of receipts and tasks that this would be the last time I would be asked to come in. I knew it was coming, of course, but didn’t realize it was happening now instead of later. This was it. Five years and what seems like a lifetime of growth and change later, Jill and I are parting ways.
I’ve always called my job a “little job”. But today, in its absence, it feels much bigger than it ever was. And I will miss it. Very much.