Thursday, September 8, 2011
9 to 5: Danielle Hulton, bookstore owner
This week's "career girl" is the fabulous Danielle Hulton, bookstore owner! It's such a pleasure to have Danielle here in this space, and when you get a moment be sure to stop by and visit her twitter too!
Tell us about yourself.
Hello! My name is Danielle Hulton. I'm 25 and I am a small business owner- I run Ada's Technical Books in Seattle, WA. Besides running the bookstore, I like to craft, read, and spend time with my amazing husband David and our two cats, Tesla and Edison. If you're interested, I blog over at http://blog.seattletechnicalbooks.com/.
Describe a typical day at work.
My schedule changes with the seasons. Right now, the store is open 10am-10pm every day and I work 10am-6pm Monday-Friday. I am also usually in the store at least a bit on weekends to help run author events or just check in on things.
My summer week days usually look like this:
9:30am: show up to work and prepare the store for opening
10:00am (or earlier): open the doors to the public
10-12pm: Check and reply to emails, order books, receive any books that have been shipped to us and put them on the shelves
12-12:30pm: Eat my lunch and catch up on blogs that I read
12:30-6pm: Blog, continue receiving merchandise, research books to sell in the store, work on developing our website, work on marketing the store, pay bills, and/or read a book for our book club.
Every day is a bit different, but they are all super busy. There is always something left to do at the end of the day. Also, during all of this, I am running the cashier station, so of course if a customer is in the store I am paying attention to them and less attention to my other work.
Did you always want to own a bookstore? How did you get into this field? What kind of schooling or background did it entail?
Not at all! Well, at least not consciously. I think part of me has always known that this is my perfect career, but I never really even thought of it as an option. I went to school to study electrical engineering and software engineering. I became a software engineer and really wanted to work towards becoming a computer engineer. But, after working for four years, two of those full time and two as a student, I realized that I was not happy at all. I loved the challenge of engineering, but I didn't actually like the day to day life of an engineer. I also realized that I was a great student and really excelled at that, but of course I couldn't be a student for the rest of my life, even if I had wanted to. So, my husband helped me to start brainstorming what I wanted to do with my life. We looked at what I liked about school and engineering and tried to find a career that seemed to fit me. One day, David came up with the idea of a technical bookstore. At first, I thought he was crazy, but the more I thought about it and researched it, the more it just seemed to fit. I have always loved to read and learn and I have a special passion for all things technical and science. We decided to try it. Ada's is David's fourth business, but his first retail business (and, it's really me running it. He still has his "day job." I call him my financial adviser). I've never run a business before, let alone a bookstore. The closest experience I've had is working in retail for four years in high school. I think my lack of experience and education is both a plus and minus. It's a minus because I'm sure I make all sorts of avoidable mistakes that I would know about if I had studied business. But it's a plus because I'm able to think outside of the box a little more than the traditionally educated business owner. It's exciting to be living up to the phrase that my dad used to tell me all the time: "You can grow up to be anything you want to be if you try hard enough!"
Is this what you hope to do for the rest of your life? If so, how do you see yourself growing in this career? If not, what else do you dream of doing? Where do you see yourself in 10 years, career-wise?
I hope so! I love what I'm doing and I love what Ada's adds to our community in Seattle. The community aspect alone is enough for me to want to do this forever. Ada's is still very young, so I'm hoping someday I can be more of the business owner and spend less time as the cashier. I don't think I'll ever stop cashiering completely, but I probably won't be doing it 40 hours a week as some point. I'd love to have time to completely work on the business side of things such as paying bills, blogging, advertising, and buying books someday without having to cashier at the same time.
In 10 years, I see myself as a successful small business owner in our community. I see Ada's as a go-to store for technical books and very stable as an income source for David and me. I'd like to have a kid by that point and have the freedom to stay home and raise our child as well as run the business. If the business were stable enough to do that, I would consider myself and the store a success.
If you could tell your 17-year old self (fresh out of high school and ready to face the world!) anything about your life today, what would you tell her? Is there anything you wish you would have known back then? Was there anything you would have done differently as far as your career, setting yourself up for success, etc.?
Hm, so many things! I think I would first tell myself that life doesn't always work out the way you thought it would and most of the time that's a really good thing! I've always been a life-planner, (still am) but I would tell myself that I should remember to be spontaneous at times too. I would also tell myself to pay attention to my creative interests and try to find ways to incorporate them into my logical interests. Finally, I think I'd tell myself that it is totally ok if I don't know what I want to do with my life, but I should just focus on studying and following what I enjoy and that it will all work out in the end!