Jumping off that cliff

In honor of Labor Day, let me share some big Advokate news.

Since Advokate’s inception, it has been a part-time job for me, needing to fit around volunteer obligations and my part-time position as co-manager of The Shirt Factory.

When my son Henry came along about two years ago, I left all my boards and committees (though I still donate work to some pet organizations) in an attempt to simplify and focus. That helped, a little.

Advokate will be starting its fifth year in business in October 2014. According to statistics published by the SBA, about half of small businesses fold by the five-year mark. Not me!

In these four years so far, I’ve been blessed to be able to help well over 100 artists, startups, nonprofits and small businesses with their marketing, and in 2013, my third year in business, I was honored to receive the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce‘s Independent Business of the Year Award. I’ve spoken at and led branding seminars at LARAC, SUNY Adirondack and the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce by UAlbany’s Small Business Development Center, and been asked to speak on elements of what makes a successful business twice at the MicroEnterprise Assistance Program that gave Advokate it’s start in the first place (which I highly recommend).

This year I launched The Chronicle‘s website, a landmark project for me. And a website for the Town of Lake George is currently underway, which is another momentous step up for the business.

I’ve also just opened an Advokate office/gallery/studio at The Shirt Factory.

I have a grand opening to plan. I have the Amity Card to roll out. I have to figure out how much of a gallery/shop I want the place to be. I have ready-to-ignite collaboration ideas. I have more ideas than time to implement them, and more artists, small businesses, startups and nonprofits are coming to me for marketing help every day. I want to give it the best shot I can. I owe it to my clients.

So it’s time to let my own business fly. To simplify and focus.

And so, the big news:

I’m stepping down from my position at The Shirt Factory in the next month or so.

I’ve been a tenant since 2007, and have been employed there since March of 2010. It has been a job that I’ve loved. I created it — My co-manager at the time, Cindy, and I were asked, upon hire, how many hours we needed, what titles we should have, what tasks we would do. It has been my dream job for nearly five years.

I’m very proud of my accomplishments, which include creation of many promotional materials, a website with a searchable directory, a Facebook presence with more than 3,000 Likes, founding of a Glens Falls Arts coalition that will be pursuing establishment of an arts district, trail and branding within the City and which publishes a monthly Arts Bulletin, resolution of many a tenant issue, networking with other creative economy projects, establishment (with the help of others) of the Shirt Factory Gallery — and probably my crowning achievement is LocalFest: Stuff Made Here, an event this coming Saturday, September 6, that I’m beyond excited about. It’s a business expo, music festival, book fair, art show, gallery hop, and so on all in one. I hope you’ll come. (I’m doing a branding seminar at 3:15 p.m. in Suite 204 that day, too. And my band The Skirts go on at 10:15 a.m.)

I’m honestly heartbroken to let the job go. It hurts to leave a career you’ve loved the same way it hurts to leave a person you’ve loved. And money is a thing. And figuring out who keeps the dog and the record collection. I hope we can still be friends.

But the winds of change are quite fiercely a-gust. Things aren’t the same. And Advokate calls to me every day… Advokate needs me. And it tells me all the time how it can’t live without me. It tells me I’m pretty. It’s grateful and beckoning standing in the middle of a field of bright yellow dandelions singing me a love song. I just can’t stop myself from taking a running leap into its wide open arms for a big movie-screen make-out. LET’S DO THIS, ADVOKATE.

So I’ll be working tomorrow on Labor Day, folks. But I’ll be working for me, and I can’t think of a better way to honor my work life than to spend it self-employed.

And P.S. — I’d love to help you do the same. Call me.

Kate Austin-Avon

Kate Austin-Avon is the owner and founder of Advokate, LLC. She lives in Glens Falls, New York, with her husband Cory (Vice President of Advokate!) and their three children.