Dreaming Again

Lots of hard conversations lately. Mostly, end of the day, collapsing into the couch together, pouring a couple nice drinks, and talking about the reality of juggling remote learning, running our small business, raising three girls, and renovating our house.

On January 19th, 2017, I wrote, “By 2027, we will offer an annual full year scholarship for a nurse to work on Mercy Ships.” My Dad spent the final years of his life working on the Africa Mercy with my mom, and we resolved that we would continue that legacy, so 1% of every sale goes to a crew member on the Africa Mercy.

We don’t make a lot doing Joy Lane Farm, and to reach our goals, the plan has always been to scale as we learned how to make quality products and found our voice as a company. This year was supposed to be a big step in that. We finally had a line of products we were proud of and that people liked. Then came the survival months of trying to figure out if we could keep Joy Lane Farm once Covid hit. We’re past that now, and through the sound of Emma not sleeping, Makayla and Kelsey asking what’s next for school, and our torn apart office needing drywall, our dreams are whispering again.

Back in 2017, I watched this clip from President Kennedy over and over. “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Whether we could scale Joy Lane Farm was always the big question. “This was our decision year,” Katy said this summer. “I know,” I said, knowing by her tone that she was thinking of Tractor Supply falling through and the loss of some of our bigger wholesale accounts.

“Everyone’s saying we can put it off a year,” I said. “No one saw Covid coming… but I don’t want to.”

I don’t care if Covid happened. We said a full year scholarship by 2027, not 2028, and we are gritting our teeth, digging in, and setting about reaching this objective. We continue to grow, faster than at first, and our next step is investing in soap equipment that will increase our efficiency, because there’s not enough time to make as much soap as we need. We have this investment plotted out for January with lots of research to do to make sure we get it right.

In the moments we want to give up, which are many, I think of Makayla riding her scooter down the hill to the soap studio this summer. She hit a crack in the pavement and tumbled, crying out in pain as the pavement made a long, bloody scrape on the pile of scrapes that—at the beginning of the summer—used to be her knee. I caught up and asked her if she wanted to walk the rest of the way. She looked up at me, almost glaring, hair in her face, and said like she was Winston Churchill addressing parliament, “Never give up!” Then, she remounted her scooter and rode down the hill.

Well, we’re not about to be outdone by a six-year-old.

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