Then, Now, Forever: Erin Pechtel
Erin Pechtel designs bright, beautiful leather bags and goods in her hometown of San Diego for her brand Boutonné. She loves her puppy, Mondays, and growing a community of strong women and entrepreneurs by sharing her powerful story.
How did Boutonné begin?
Birthed out of an opportunity for me to start over, Boutonné came to life in 2012 just when I needed new life. I moved back to San Diego, where I grew up, from Nashville where I had spent the 4 years prior alone in my heart, and quiet about the terrible marriage I was suffering through. I learned some devastating things about my partner, and we divorced that year. My head was spinning as I dug deep inside my heart to try to discover the remains, and what I would do with my life now. I never wanted all of the pain to go to waste so somehow, by the grace of God, I picked myself up off the floor and started dreaming. I always wanted to run my own business, so I began putting the pieces of my life and my story back together with each stitch of Boutonné. Very quickly retailers were picking the collection up and before I knew it, my dreams were right there, alive in front of my eyes. I have been humbled at each turn, overwhelmed by the growth and emotional since! My company has been a symbol of hope to me + I hope by my openness about the hardships that life throws and ighting through them (You can do it!) that it can be a symbol of hope to others as well.
Being in a business that’s so appearance driven, I think it’s sometimes hard to be strong about realities. Does being in this business make it more challenging to you?
When I’m at my healthiest version of myself, optimism comes naturally to me. I tend to be fearless and I’ll jump in and figure it out, that’s just part of my personality. I enjoy finding solutions, and certainly don’t mind getting my hands dirty. I love me some hard work! But in the times where I am overwhelmed by it all, I try to get quiet and center myself and listen to my gut. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have two business mentors close to my heart that I can call on in times of need or when I am faced with big decisions, and need a sounding board. They’ve been such an inspiration to me and have set such a wonderful example of strong, healthy, successful business women. Many times I don’t even have to call on them, I’ll just think of them and that gives me strength. True inspirations.
I’m really open about the hard part of the business and how we started, because I feel super passionate about helping enable other people to get up off the ground and start over.
I’ve really enjoyed being able to share and help other people because a lot of the things I went through were really, really painful and I don’t want that pain to go to waste. I want it to go to use for other people, other people struggling who feel so alone. It’s easy to say, “That was five years ago”, but the truth is that I still have things that come up here and there or triggers or a hard week. But we don’t talk about that in our businesses, and I really want to create a safe place for people to talk about hardships and feel safe to say, “Okay our brand is thriving but it didn’t get there because this journey is easy.” It’s at where it’s at because there is the blood, sweat, and the tears. We talk about the blood and the sweat, but we don’t always talk about the tears, the emotional part of it. When I was just getting started, I felt like I couldn’t talk about this because it would make my brand look weak, but what I have noticed is that when I am brave enough to speak the truth it opens a space for others to share and say “me too," and we can work through it all together. That is a beautiful thing. The story that I want to tell is ‘You can do it! You can do anything you put your mind to. You are stronger than you think you are!’ There are people out there that are willing to help you, and we’re all in this together. There are times of joy and wonderful successes and we celebrate them together and there are times where life is difficult and you are not alone in either.
What does success mean to you?
I think for me, today, what success looks like is the art of balance. I used to confuse success with when I had “made it” and there was some monetary number attached to it, but then you arrive at that number and you are not satisfied. You are not happy. So today I think it’s a dance. It’s a dance between setting goals for yourself within your business but also in your personal life. To know your worth as a person and as a human, that you’re beautifully and wonderfully made and you’re not alone and that you have what it takes. It’s having that inner heart balance along with being able to set and attain the goals that you set for yourself within your business and not loosing yourself along the way. I recently heard this quote about hustle hustle hustle, and climbing the ladder, and when you get to the top you release your ladder was against the wrong wall the entire time. Isn’t that true often times? I don’t have all the answers, I’m just a gal trying to figure it out as I go along. But I really enjoy the open processing and being honest throughout my process in hopes of bringing hearts together.