Entrepreneurship: a ship I’m happy to sail

 

As we move onward towards graduation, it is a natural reflex to look back on the journey we have taken to reach this moment in our lives. The fear that haunts me most often is whether or not my younger self would be proud of where I am, of who she became. Before etiquette, and responsibility, and creative limitations molded our growth, as children we were probably the most genuinely ourselves as we ever will be again. This being said, I occasionally worry that little Taylor Covington would be pleased with my decision to enter into business, because growing up, that was the furthest thing from what I thought I wanted to do. While I don’t see myself running a Fortune 500 company even as I’ve grown older, my initial rejection of the business mindset is probably perplexing given that the majority of my family acts within the industry. My father was in sales. My mom is a Director at Emerson Process Management. And my uncle, my grizzly-bear-like, conservative, Broncos-loving uncle, runs both a jewelry supply store and a school for making jewelry out of Boulder, Colorado. That is pretty much my only connection to entrepreneurship and that’s where the focus of this post is headed.

For years, that same loud, chatty, Taylor Covington would wander around her uncle’s supply store, touching rocks and gold chains, daring my brother to poke one of the sculpting blades. Back then, I knew he had graduated from the University of Texas with an Arts degree, specializing in metalworking. My house is STILL littered with shapes of jade curved into bizarre shapes and smoothed to a shine. He moved out to Colorado when he was still young and from there began making his own unique brand of jewelry. My mom often forced him to go out and sell his items at trade shows— and yes, he did extremely well.

From there, he founded The Naga Tools & Supplies in 1976 about twenty minutes from his house. It was a small shop, providing high-quality material. It eventually expanded backward, creating more space for storage and display cases. It now has a functioning website where you can place orders, track your order, and find what you’re looking for by brand or by function. Currently, it has become the largest resource of tools and supplies in all of Colorado.

About 10 years ago, he and his second wife officially opened the Denver School of Metal Arts, just next door to The Naga. Darlene, my aunt, runs the school mostly while my uncle prefers the work of the shop. There are over twenty instructors, teaching metalsmithing, workshopping around specific technics, and intensive casting procedures.

He still lives in the same house he has for the past twenty years. He still drives the same car, barring any repairs, and still shops and eats at the same stores.

These descriptions are not meant to brag or bore; it is simply worth noting that entrepreneurship comes in many different packages. I doubt my uncle knows the first thing about “the toll-gate strategy” or how to be the “fustest with mostest”, but it’s impossible to ignore his success and growth from just a shop-owner to an educator. So while I’m certainly not discounting Drucker’s formulas for success, I think the majority of what he is suggesting can be boiled down to a simple statement: “see a need, fill a need.” My uncle began by doing what he loved. He had— and still has— no desire to become a supply store mogul. But by listening to the customers, by going to conventions and meeting people one-at-at-a-time, my uncle undoubtedly made a lasting positive impression on the community. So if I one day follow my uncle’s footsteps and end up impacting my community in an authentic way, I’m pretty sure Little TC would be just fine.

2 Comments, RSS

  1. Meghan Condon February 16, 2016 @ 7:11 am

    Ah yes, the age old question, would little me, like me? Or even, if I met me, would I like me?
    OR does it matter? Am I a better me than I was then? More realistic? More empathetic? OOORRRR was that last question just me trying to make excuses and loopholes to answering the question.
    Growing up I had visions of being many things, a marine biologist, a surgeon, a paleontologist, a dog, a zoologist, and so so much more; but I never imagined myself going into business. Then again, I never imagined myself going into any of the programs that I applied to colleges for.
    Maybe how we should be looking at this, is not by looking at personal interests, but by remembering back to our values; otherwise we would be looking for jobs where we climb trees, ride scooters, and play with dolls. I think lil’ Meg would appreciate the fact that I am going to fight for meaning, and as you said, authenticity in my future job.

  2. renaebouchard February 16, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

    As you’ve both pointed out, we do all question if we are being our truest self. I think in general a business degree and working in business is an easy field to be able to find your passion in, regardless of what makes you happy. The field is full of versatile opportunities to allow us to grow and find what can truly make us happy. Especially since it sounds like you have the entrepreneurial spirit in your family, I know you are going to do well!

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