When Your Professional Dreams Change

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When Lisa Miller opened LA Miller Boutique seven years ago in Rockford after hosting clothing pop ups around town, she did so with the goal of sharing clothing that made women feel good about themselves. And that goal was quickly accomplished.

Miller built a successful and well-loved brand during a time she describes as "fantastic." When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, Miller knew a pivot was necessary and expanded her offerings to include an online store, which also performed well.

However, while on a run one day, Miller found herself confronted with a moment of complicated enlightenment.

"I'm done. I don't want to do this anymore."

Deciding to completely close LA Miller's operations this past August was a turning point down a road she'd pondered more than once before. The business was doing well, after all. But Miller knew more was waiting for her.

"It was a very, very hard decision to step back and actually admit that this isn't where I need to be right now,'" Miller recalled. "I realized I didn't need to exert every waking hour and everything I have into the business, because it has taken away from so many other things for myself and my family. I realized I could do something else and that this wasn't all there is."

And though closing the boutique was one of the best decisions Miller says she's ever made, she still mourned for what once was, and said goodbye to a dream she had made a reality.

"I made this decision back in March or April and we didn't announce we were closing until August, so there were a lot of ups and downs and plenty of grieving during that period of time," she explained.

While some people who were not looped in remarked that Miller "wasn't being herself lately," those who were aware of what was to come—close friends, her husband and kids, even her employees (many of whom Miller now considers best friends)—were supportive every step of the way.

"When it finally came time to announce everything, it felt so good to share it with others," Miller said. "It was almost like this huge weight was lifted. And I felt so good, instantly."

But don't be fooled, Miller is still excited about fashion and all that comes with it. Today, she works in marketing for The James Salon and Boutique in Ada, a move she calls "full circle," as the first place she ever held a clothing pop up years ago was at the owner's previous salon in East Grand Rapids.

"Being able to introduce myself as me and not have people come up to me and say, 'Oh, you're LA Miller!' 'No, I'm Lisa ... Lisa Miller' and to be able to move forward is so exciting," she said. "I thought I was going to have a hard time losing that whole 'LA Miller Boutique Owner' title, but it's almost been refreshing. And it feels really good to not be attached to it and just kind of be myself again."

For other women going through something similar in relation to their careers, Miller emphasized how important it was to trust your gut.

"Don't doubt yourself—ever. There were so many times when I asked myself, 'Am I making the right decision? What am I doing this for?'" Miller advised. "If you feel in your soul that something needs to change, then something probably does—whether that means finding a new job or something completely different. Just be confident in yourself."

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.

This article originally appeared in the Dec '22/Jan '23 issue of West Michigan Woman.


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