When growing a small business and establishing a brand, the first thing the gurus tell us is to find our voice. This is all fine and good, but if we don’t know what we are listening for, how will we know when we find it? And is finding our voice something we just discover by chance- like finding a pair of limited edition Heritage cowboy boots at a consignment shop?
The simile might be a stretch. Do normal people even know what Heritage boots are?
Heritage boots are handcrafted, high end cowboy boots made in Mexico by actual boot artisans. Each boot is custom made and stitched by hand. Each boot is its own work of art. These shoes are made to last and made for class. There is a higher chance of you being hit by lightning while doing laundry in your basement than you discovering a pair of Heritage boots in a consignment shop. Owners do not part with their Heritage boots, nor should they.
The style of these boots is recognizable. The superior leather (they sometimes even use shark skin), the highest skill, the fastidious attention to detail- all make up the finest footwear. And the price, though lower than some boots on the market, can be prohibitive. Again, normal people might not be able to afford a pair of these boots- thus is the cost of superior and ethical craft. Normal people might imagine the feel of slipping on a pair of custom made cowboy boots. The rise of the heel just high enough to feel confident, but low enough to still be practical. The tooling across the leather reminds you that on your feet are two pieces of art. A boot so captivating that you actually think you’re wearing it, but you’re only reading about it on a website.
Finding our voice is like finding this unicorn of a boot in a consignment shop. We’ve seen it before, but only briefly and in part. We’d recognize it, if we were digging through a bin. But no one will just give it to us. Our voice is our own. It belongs to our brand, our work. No one can make our voice for us.
Listening to the stories of other entrepreneurs shaping their businesses, their brands, and finding their voices, I’m beginning to realize that we aren’t just going to discover ours. We are going to try it on, put it back on the shelf. We’ll pick up another and try that one on, too. Eventually, we will get closer and closer. Eventually, we will discover that, in fact, our voice was there all along, being handcrafted, stitched together, piece by piece. We will look back on our journey, and we will see that we were shaping it, together. We will see it emerge, and we will name it.