Most people take a gap year. I took two, to open two businesses.

Most people take a gap year. I took two, to open two businesses.

By Hayley Doron-Weil

Most people take a gap year. I took two, to open two businesses.

Firstly, Happy Birthday to ThatAdStore.com. Yay! It's been one hell of a first, and last year. Yup, you read that right, we’re closing shop, or store, as they say. Before you think “OMG, WTF and oh WOW, she’s nuts,” please take some time to read my why below.

I’ve been so grateful to have had this incredible experience. To build a business from the ground up with paying clients from day one. Yup, you read that right too, it is possible. To all the budding creative entrepreneurs out there, I applaud you to do this. To try. You don’t need funding. You need a business that works and clients who will pay you for your service.

So, why are we closing shop?

My intention was never to build a fully serviced ad agency. The world has so many and they’re really good at what they do. My initial idea was to offer a unique service and to take on small but mighty, one-off creative projects that my store could handle. But, the world wants more ad agencies, even if I don’t :)

While running an agency is very exciting, it comes with some real challenges. Some I never saw coming. I’ve had to adapt, albeit in a good way, but adapt nonetheless in a way that eventually made me feel the unique business model I had envisioned and created was giving way to business as usual. I learnt very quickly it’s tough to change behaviour. On the upside, I learnt very quickly how to run two businesses, at the same time… We’ll get to the second one soon.

I’m now a 5-dimensional Creative Director. Scratch that, I’m more than just a Creative Director. I’m a Creative Director+ and I’ve geared up for what the world expects from people nowadays, which is to be as multifaceted as possible and then some.

I hope you’re still reading because I’d like to share some personal thoughts with you now.

The most exhilarating part of owning and starting a business is - starting. Especially for someone like me, who loves to bring ideas to life and build things. That initial phase is nothing short of Utopia. But, then things start getting very real with bookkeeping, client relationships, project management, CEO-things, HR-things, and not to mention the Covid elephant in the room. It’s been the toughest year for the entire world and I chose to do what I feel is the toughest task, opening a business alone, via Zoom, Slack, WhatsApp and other channels that remove all the one-on-one personal interaction in a business that actually thrives on relationships. Go figure.

But, I’m super proud of what ThatAdStore.com has accomplished and I’m choosing to step away on a high, knowing that I achieved everything I set out to and more.

Now to speak a little bit about my other business, UrbanHoundSocial.com which I started in 2019, just a few months short of the Covid pandemic.

I totally stepped out of my comfort zone with that one. Like into the Twilight Zone. It was the furthest thing from advertising that I could think of. Becoming a fashion designer overnight is something! I’ve learnt about pattern making, CMT’s, prototyping, sewing, manufacturing at scale, retail vs wholesale… none of which entered my vocabulary pre-2019. I had ideas of opening a brick-and-mortar store or a pop-up and then covid hit. Luckily, we’ve had Superbalist and Shopify firmly in our corner, so our products continued being shipped to people all over South Africa. But, the struggle is real and for anyone watching Project Runway or Making The Cut, that’s me, hustling and learning every single day.

So, thank you, “gap” years. You’ve been everything I ever dreamed of. Even better than a Contiki Tour around Europe, and that’s hard to beat, or so I’m told.

What’s next for me?

I’m looking to take my learnings, my energy and my 5-dimensional Creative Director me to a company that I believe in and that believes in me.

You’re probably wondering what I’ll do with my two businesses, and because I’m not as superhuman as the world expects, I can’t answer that right now. All I know is that ThatAdStore.com will live on as my brand and blog. You could even see it as #ThatBlog from now on, where I’ll continue to write about my journey, share my joy, my learnings and my ideas in the hopes it inspires more people to follow their gut, try out their dreams, and fill that dream-shaped gap inside with something that scares the hell out of them as much as it makes them smile.

Yay

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