{How I quit my day job.}

Earlier this year I started dreaming of making Gussy my full-time job. I knew that one day I didn’t want to work two jobs anymore, I just wanted to be Gussy girl. It’s no wonder that people want to know, Gus, how did you do it? Because c’mon, it is a dream for so many of us to have our own business. And while there is no one simple answer, I do believe it is an overall simple process because it involves being who you are. And I know you probably hear that all the time, but that is because it’s true! Think about it, if you aren’t yourself then you have to be someone else. And how long can you act like someone else before your mask breaks {and how hard would it be…}?

So just be yourself :]

However, it may be a long process, or a short one. Every person’s story is unique. But I believe it can be a simple process, too.

So today I’d like to share with you a few things that helped me make my largest life dream to-date become a reality. Right now, as you read this, I am on Day 1 of being self-employed. I’m out shopping for fabric, sewing orders and new items, and reading my email. Zack surprised me with a truly amazing celebratory weekend so I was offline for 2.5 days — the first time in months. I’ll share all the details tomorrow :] So I hope you’ll be back to celebrate our fun weekend with me. Actually, all week I have fun things planned, so maybe you’ll stick around a bit longer?

The following are some things that helped me start a hobby, but also helped us to know when it was time for this to be my exclusive job. {For more blog/business posts, please read through my blog/biz 411 category.}


5 things that helped my business bloom:

1. Find a trade you want to learn and study it
  • It’s important to figure out your learning style and find tutorials/books that teach in that style
  • Whether you get stuck or just want to know more, never stop asking questions and learning

2. Transform your blog into a personal and professional tool
  • The sooner we realize we are not alone, the faster we can succeed in life {partnerships are priceless}
  • Find people and help them. Share your life with them. Teach them and be taught by them. Allow yourself to learn with them
  • Spend some serious time mapping out goals for your blog: What topics do you want to cover? Where do you want your blog to go? What can you do to make it a resource for others? How can your blog help you?
  • Find blogs that you can connect with as a person and a business

3. Try. Fail. Try. Mess up. Try. Fail. Try. Succeed!
  • If you give up you won’t ever know your maximum potential
  • Each time you “fail”, take it as an opportunity to make it better for the next time. And doesn’t practice make perfect? :]
  • Have faith in yourself and the talents you’ve been given

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? -Robert Schuller

4. Set major goals: The Count Up / Family Goal:

One night, about 8 weeks ago, Zack and I sat down and talked about what we could do to make quitting my day job to pursue Gussy full-time a serious reality. Since Zack and I are both salaried we know exactly what our paychecks are going to be every month. We mapped out our bills in two week increments {we get paid every 2 weeks} and took ALL LEFTOVER MONIES AND PUT IT IN THE BANK. I had to put that in caps because that is how extreme we were in saving. Some times we slipped, I’ll be honest, but we were always moving forward.

Do you know why this is important? If you don’t tell your money where to go then it will disappear. Tell me you know that, too?

We wrote down what we could pull from our paychecks to save, along with what I could pull from Gussy income. I even set some serious goals once I realized I was able to save more Gussy income than originally planned. {Yeow!}

Roughly 8 weeks later we have saved nearly 3 months of my salary as emergency fund back-up funds for Gussy. That is our Family Goal. Right now we are at 89%. We are short 11% of our savings. Yeow! How’s THAT for an accomplishment?! We are so amazed over this goal. I am a big “security” girl — I like to know how things are going to work out before they even happen. Hah! So leaving a salaried job to pursue my passion was a leap of faith. But really, how could I not take that leap?!

The incredible part of this is that this Family Goal is going to just be sitting there, waving at us saying, Hello. I’m here looking pretty but you don’t need me at all.

And Zack and I are sitting over here, saying, Hello. Thanks for sitting pretty for us, but we don’t need you. {OK, fine, Zack is really saying, Thanks for being a security blanket for my wife.}

So please watch with us as we scrape to pull together the last 11 percent and thank you so much for helping us get this far :]

5. Find people that will encourage you.

Zack and I are oh-so blessed to have great families and friends. As soon as we told them our desires for Gussy and showed them our plans they were immediately on board. I remember one conversation specifically. My mom was visiting and we had asked her, What do you think about Gussy? Should I try and pursue it full-time? And she answered, I think if you don’t do it soon you’re going to miss your chance. That was just so huge for me to have affirmation from a very important person. I know this was God’s plan all along and recognizing that, coming up with a plan — it all fell right into place.

Zack is also a huge factor in all this. He helped me in 3 big ways: First, he literally helped me with the chores that were hard to find the time for. Secondly, Zack has always been positive and perfect with his endless encouragement. Lastly, he helped me to see what’s most important. Sigh… I’ll be honest: many nights Zack did the dishes after dinner, he did most of the chores, and some times our apartment didn’t get cleaned for 3 weeks in a row. Eww. I figured those were all little things, considering the big picture. Right? Zack helped me to see the the big picture.

What is the saying, No pain, no gain? {Like not doing housework was painful…} But the weeks where I worked until the wee hours of the morning definitely were.

I’m sure those days aren’t over for good, but it’s just a soul-bursting experience to be here today sharing with you in my first day as Gussy girl.

And I’m sew not looking back!

In addition to our families, I must thank those that played a key role. Much love to you all:
The Nester
Darcy {my blog designer}
Lindsay @ Paint Me a Pic
Lindsey @ The Pleated Poppy
Lisa Leonard
Leigh-Ann @ Freckled Nest and
thank you so much for coming back to my blog every day and leaving little bits of encouragement.

Please continue to pray for us as we begin this journey. This community I’ve been blessed with makes me weak at the knees. I am so excited to see where God brings this business and our lives. Let the celebration begin!

[photo credits: weheartit.com]

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  1. 1


    Congratulations!! I love coming to this blog everyday to see your pretty creations and hear what you’ve been up to.. I hope you never stop sharing that with all us readers :)
    You are so brave for taking this leap of faith, and I believe you will go so far because of it!

  2. 2


    I think that’s fantastic! I have been wondering what your count up to was – and even how to do a count up (Hubby and I are saving for a trip to France and I would love to include something that like on my blog) – I wish you the best of luck with making your business your full time business! :)

  3. 4


    Congrats, Maggie! What a huge leap of faith. I can’t believe I have a Gussy bag from way back when you we just getting started and now here you are, working on Gussy full time!! Best of luck (even though we both know you don’t need it!) with your business – you are amazing!

  4. 6

    Mama Gus says

    Hugs and smooches to you Gussy! In celebration of your first day as Full Time Gus, I skipped around the house this morning! Now there’s a hilarious visual for you!

    Love you!

    Mama Gus

  5. 9


    we are on the same path to get debt free and pursue dreams in this neck of the woods-so encouraging to watch your dream come true

  6. 12


    Woohoo! I’m seriously considering doing a happy dance for you, but that may be going a little too far a little too early in the morning. ;)

    Gussy, you are truly an inspiration. Sending lots of love + hugs your way as you start out on this fun path.

  7. 13


    Congratulations Maggie! Very excited for you. Sounds like yall have a great plan and are moving in the right direction. Best of luck on this new chapter in your life. I know you will make the most of it and take Gussy to a whole new level. Only good things to come! ENJOY!

  8. 14


    wow maggie, what an encouraging post! this is the beginning of a great adventure.. it really is amazing how far you’ve come with your business! that is fantastic you were able to save up so much — good for you guys! enjoy your first day of freedom! :)

  9. 16


    What great advice, Gussy! So excited for you :) I followed many of these same principles several years ago when I left my salaried job to concentrate on my writing career and I haven’t looked back since! What an excellent guideline you put together here – thanks so much for sharing :) Best of luck to you! Such an inspirational story!

  10. 19

    Christine Kennedy says

    You are so inspirational. I’ve just found a ew blog to follow :) good luck in your self employment, maybe i can help you out :)

  11. 22


    Yippeeeeeeee!! So happy and excited for you. Thank you for being such an inspiration :)
    Congrats on Gussy being your full time job. I know you are going to continue to be such a success. Keep being YOU!!

  12. 25

    Pamela says


    Grace. Is what this is. Your blog, your thanksgiving, starting with God and spreading to your family and friends. Wishing you all the best. Your endeavor is in my prayers.

  13. 26


    Congrats Gussy! I come to your blog daily-sometimes more often than that to find inspiration, joy, hope, encouragement, faith, the list goes on….I am so happy for you and your family. You are truly amazing and this opportunity could not have happened to a better person. You have changed my life just by me “meeting” you through your blog and shop.


  14. 27


    Congrats!! And good luck being your own boss :)

    You are amazing and an inspiration. I’m so glad I was turned to your direction and it’s been great getting to “know you” through your blog. I’m so excited for you to take on your absolute dream job! Here’s to great Gussy success!!

  15. 29


    Hi Gus! I am a lurker here, but I read everyday : )

    I just wanted to say that I am so happy for you and I think that you are FABULOUS!! There is so much that I admire about you.

    Congrats Girlie!!

  16. 30


    Congratulations! Thanks for posting this. It is great and inspiring advice. I just found you from Freckled Nest and am so glad I did!

  17. 35


    Your amazing, adorable, determined and successful. I don’t know you but I love you and your business plan is awesome. I’m so happy for you that you ARE doing it.

  18. 40

    designer says

    Go gussy, go gussy, go go – go gussy!

    “Leap of faith.” I love this saying, however cliche’, because for any entrepreneur – it’s exactly that.

    “To me, FEARLESS is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, FEARLESS is having fears. FEARLESS is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, FEARLESS is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.

    “Headfirst… fearless.” -Taylor Swift.

    Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Rooting for you!


  19. 43


    woo-hoo! You are such an inspiration (especially as I sit here at my desk job, filing papers-something I am not so good at!) My husband & I have had a hard time figuring out how to make a Family Plan, but I think that I just figured it out…JUST DO IT. I need to get out of this job, it is taking from my spirit & making me sad. I know that I was given creative gifts & I also know that God won’t let me waste them. I love your blog, it always makes me smile. The best of luck to you & you will be getting an order from Elizabeth in Denver sometime soon!

  20. 44


    this is absolutely inspiring! :) i’m not so crafty, so i wont’ be quitting my day job, but i love that you’re able to do that.

  21. 46


    Congratulations Gussy! I started my business when we not only had NO SAVINGS, but were in some serious debt. God has blessed my desire to be at home with my baby (is 7 still a baby?), and has allowed us to dig out of debt, and have a business that is profitable enough for me to employ two friends! God is good. He will certainly bless your desire to be good stewards of your money. I can’t wait to watch what happens!

  22. 48

    Paige Borda says

    Congrats again on this huge accomplishment! You are awesome! It’s been so fun to follow along with you on this journey :)

  23. 52


    I could say that I found you via a Freckled Nest, but I’ve been following you for much longer then that :) I love your store and congratulations for going all Gussy!!! What an awesome accomplishment!!

    Hope you have a great week!!


  24. 54


    Love it! This is such an inspiring post. Makes me want to make my business a full time gig even more. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the greatness Gussy can achieve in the future!

  25. 55


    Such a beautifully written post. Thank you for sharing so much of your faith, your passion, and your life with all of us. Your confidence is so inspiring and encouraging. I love coming hear to read about your methods of overcoming challenges!

    Good luck Gussy Girl in this new beautiful day :)

  26. 56


    so proud + happy for you! love these tips, you’re such a business gal! keep ’em coming, because i’d love to one day emulate what you’ve just done. go get ’em girl!

  27. 57


    stopping by from FN!
    Thanks for the tips! It must be liberating to make this your full time job! I’d love to be my own boss someday!

  28. 58


    Way to go Maggie! I don’t comment here much {I am more of a lurker}, but I do have to say thanks for sharing how you got from point A to point B. I think many of us out here in bloggy land would like to follow in your footsteps. Thanks for inspiring us to be our best!

  29. 61

    Kathy says

    i’m new to your blog in the last few weeks. thanks for being so inspiring and sharing how to follow your dreams. it seems scary, but i think it’s scarier to live a life that isn’t in line with who we are. bravo for taking the big step. can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

  30. 63


    How wonderful Maggie! I am so proud of you and your accomplishments…I have been feeling very un-inspired lately and I can always count on a good dose of inspiration when I visit your blog everyday! Good luck and GOD bless you, Zack and Gussy!

  31. 65


    Congratulations on living your dream! You are an inspiration and a huge help to me as I am trying to do the same. So much good luck!

  32. 66


    What an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing, and for the tips! I’m visiting from Freckled Nest, and I promise, I’ll be back because I’m sure you will be doing great things. GOOD LUCK!

  33. 68

    Lindsay D says

    Maggs…you are amazing! I so admire what you are doing and see that it totally fits YOU. Thanks for being an inspiration!

  34. 69


    Gussy I’m so impressed with your savings and dedication to wanting this dream to come true. Your chance is making me feel that if I start working hard at what my dreams are then I too can make a huge change like you did. Yesterday some aunts of mine and I had a long conversation about my Gussy bag. They were in love with it and were really supportive of my desire to make my dreams come true too. I’m happy I’ve been able to “get to know you” and I am so deeply happy for you and your family an your dream of Gussy. Keep up the great work and dont let any downs get you down. You’re doing so great!!!

  35. 70

    Jenny-Lynn says

    Your story is so inspiring! I wish you the very best on your new journey. I absolutely LOVE your work!!


  36. 76


    What a great list of “goals” to stand by! I’ll definitely keep them in mind when I’m looking for a job, applying for college, etc.

  37. 77

    Shannon K says

    Visiting from Freckled Nest and so glad you were over there for me to find! Congrats on focusing fulltime, I wish you all the best and have no doubt you will reach all of your goals.

  38. 78

    Amy Stark says

    Way to go, your leap of faith encourages me. My girls and I send you positive thoughts as you pursue your dreams. Jensenhus girls

  39. 79


    So. Very. Excited. 4 U.

    You are doing it and doing it well.

    Can’t wait to see the great things that will come from your step of faith.


  40. 80


    Congratulations, Gussy! Nester told me secretly a while back what you were up to and I am just so excited for you. What an inspiration. Go Gussy Go!!!

  41. 81


    I am so happy for you & so proud of you. Maggie Whitley, you are my hero. And, my sanity saver. ;)

    You’ve encouraged me in the past and it’s time for me to move forward and grab a hold of life with as much gusto as you have! I am absolutely thrilled (and jealous…I won’t lie) that you guys have nearly 3 months of your salary saved already. We’re taking things with baby steps. But, baby steps are steps in the right direction, right??

    I am a girl of security, too. Me & uncertainty don’t get along very well. But, you’re showing me that certain types of uncertainty can be absolutely wonderful & thrilling. All the best to you as you pursue Gussy as your one and only full-time endeavor!!


    • 82


      Michelle, you know I heart you tons :]

      Like I wrote you in an email reply, any baby step is a good step. And remember that when you start saving it may seem small, but every small “donation” to your savings account adds up faster then you think it will :]


  42. 89


    Such an inspirational post! Thank you so much for sharing and encouraging others (like me) to pursue our dreams. And to believe that the dreams are possible! I know God has a plan and it excites me to think about the future he has for me. Stop by for a visit when you get a chance.

  43. 93


    Awesome! Congrats on making your goal. We’re working through the TMM, too. Steps 1 and 2 are DONE (it was so awesome to see that debt disappear!) We’re working on Step 3 now, can’t wait to get there, too!

  44. 95


    I’m really excited for you! That you have been able to take this leap of faith and follow your dreams! So exciting for me to watch. I can learn a lot from you and have enjoyed following along with your family and Gussy. God bless!

  45. 96

    Naomi says

    I LOVE this! You fulfilling your dreams as well as being an inspiration to so many, while keeping the Faith,is awesome! Love your products too:)

  46. 97


    Ok, I’m comment #97, so I don’t know that you’ll actually get to read this… But, I just wanted to let you know how inspiring you’ve been to me as I’ve watched your journey these past weeks.

    We are beginning a similar journey as a family right now. My husband told me yesterday that he really wants me to pursue the business that I’ve had “on the side as a hobby” for years.

    So, I finally applied for my business license today, and I’ve been sewing up a storm… meanwhile thinking of your inspiration! :)

    Thank you!

    I think I remember reading somewhere that you’re going to be at The Relevant Conference; if so, I look forward to meeting you.


  47. 99


    This is so so so very inspirational for me. I have been sewing since I was eleven and have always wanted to make a career of it but I have been so scared of the financial instability of working for myself.

    I went through college for design because the idea of being unqualified for a job that could support my family if need be terrifies me.

    Lately I have been feeling so dissatisfied with how my life is heading and all I can think about is starting the sewing/crafting business I always wanted.

    Its wonderful to see someone that is really doing it. Thanks for being awesome!

  48. 100


    Thank you is all I can say, I’ve spent the morning reading through your entire blog and I am totally inspired.
    I myself feel that I have finally found my niche in the handmade market and need to work even harder to fulfill my dream.
    Its stressful, my partner works away all week, I’m home alone with the boys, and finding the time and the sleep and the encouragement is hard but I fight myself all the time and tell myself that it will be worth it in the end.
    2011 is going to be a new new new year for us a whole and I’m super excited about the plans I have for Quirky Boots, and with your blog as inspiration I will not fail :) xx
    Have a beautiful weekend x

  49. 101


    Congratulations! I’ve been following you for a while now but came to the blog today because of LaunchHER’s tweet. What a great story. We are also thisclose to making this dream my reality and are saving 3-6 months emergency fund. Thank you for sharing your story and tips. Much success to you in 2011! Blessings!

  50. 102


    I love you, I love your blog, I love your work…I LOVE it ALL!! I am so happy that God led me to your blog. It gives me such encouragement reading your story. It also ignites my passion to keep pressing forward and slowly make my dreams come true. I admire that you are YOURSELF and that your advice is so wise and humble. You are genuine and real, and it is so refreshing : ).

    Thanks for taking the time to share your journey with us. It has been such a blessing for me to read along and celebrate with you. I truly find a little gem for the day every time I come here–I mean that!

    Keep being Gussy! : )
    Lots of love,

  51. 103

    heidi says

    loved hearing your story! congrats!!

    your site is just delightful!!

    i am a fellow minneapolis girl who just turned her ‘dreams into plans’ too… :)

    we arrived to town this past august so my philospher husband could pursue some teaching opportunities. for the past five years i’ve been a full time mama while learning more about the organizing trade. i worked at it a little before our move, but after arriving in town i put up my site, printed cards and recently landed my first client!

    cheers to following your dreams!
    heidi {of}

  52. 105


    I’m so glad I found your blog and your story! I have been wanting to persue my dream of owning my own crafting business fr awhile now! And your encouraging words are just what I needed to hear! Your bags are AMAZING! Congrats on your success and and may God continue to Bless you and your business! :)

  53. 106


    I’m so inspired by you! I’m a stay at home Mom of 3 and just opened a shop on Etsy last month. Everything is going really well, and I’m loving being able to at least support my craft with my earnings! You are so fantastic, as is your stuff…I’m a sewer myself and it’s a great place a joy for me to sit down at the machine and listen to that hum sound as I work. Fantastic to hear someone who took a joy and made it a career!


  1. […] the trade, he told me. You can totally do this! Suddenly we were discussing attending conferences, quitting my day job, hiring more help, traveling to Tanzania, speaking at this conference {yeow!}… I could go on […]

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