In 2008, Kristen Pumphrey got some bad news.
The New York-based craft magazine where she worked as an editorial assistant was folding.
“I remember sitting down right across from my boss when she was letting me go,” Pumphrey says. “She was like, ‘What are you going to do now?’ I was just like, ‘Well, I don’t know. Maybe I’m going to move to Austin and start my own business.’ I’d been writing all these articles about people who were doing that and it really inspired me.”
Later that year, Pumphrey moved down to “craft mecca” Austin, Texas and eventually founded what would become P.F. Candle Co., a homemade candle business.
She credits thinking ahead with helping her make the leap back in 2008 — not to mention bounce back from getting laid off.
“I think it really comes down to always thinking about what your goals are beyond the current job you’re in,” Pumphrey says. “Because you could be in your current job and it’s your dream company, your dream position, but continuing to think about, ‘What is my strategy beyond where I’m at right now? What is my strategy beyond my current position?’ Even nowadays, I say, ‘What would happen if I wasn’t working at P.F. anymore? What would I want to do?’ Always think of a backup plan.”
Starting a small business turned out to be easier said than done. Pumphrey says that at 22, she didn’t consider some of the struggles up ahead. She had to work part-time jobs to pay the bills — waiting tables, hosting, and working as a receptionist at an art gallery. One side business (creating pillows in the shape of states) went bust early on.
“Now that I’m older, it would be a lot scarier to be in that position,” the now 31-year-old says. “I just kind of did the leap and the net will appear kind of thing. And it was a struggle. It’s not like I immediately started growing a business and had it take off.”
Eventually, Pumphrey moved again, to Long Beach, California, as her husband planned to finish up school at Cal State Long Beach. In California, she was unable to get a side job to keep her afloat, which ultimately forced her to focus solely on making her small business work out. Today, P.F. Candle Co. is based in LA and employs a team of 27.
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