This year's birthday is something special - I turn 40. That's why I look back and reflect - publicly in our blog. Because: I see again and again how amazed people around me are when I tell them my story, how everything started with my entrepreneurship.
This article is intended to inspire, show you some real-life moments and demonstrate: Yes, even potatoes in tomato water can grow to something that you never dared to dream of.
MY SITUATION IN SPRING 2010
In May 2010, I started my adventure of "entrepreneurship" and founded HCG corporate designs. If you had asked me a few months earlier if I would ever start my own business, I would have said "never in my life". After all, I wasn't a particularly risk-taking person - back then. However, over many months from 2009 to spring 2010, a situation came up that was fueled by several factors.
At that time I was a full-time employee in the financial sector. The services of this company were (and still are) very good, but I didn't really like the job itself and it didn't keep me mentally busy. Even in the previous jobs in quality and process management, I was too often underchallenged. I was bored, I couldn't even begin to tap into my potential and nobody was interested in promoting my talents or using them for their businesses.
However, in my last job (in the bespoke financial sector), there was an even bigger problem: bullying at work. In addition, some of my boss's business partners wanted to start a physical relationship with me, one even offered me money for it - I was shocked and disgusted. I was confronted with sexist sayings and actions and experienced the revenge of a business partner who was interested in a relationship with me by spreading rumours about me and defaming me.
Fortunately, my boss recognised this and paid no attention to this defamation. Nevertheless, he was not shy himself when it came to bullying either: on my last day at work he grabbed and shook my nose so hard that I could still feel my nose hours later, he even pulled the secretary's hair.
What I really enjoyed during this time, however, was my part-time DJ job on the weekends. I had to express my creativity, and I did so behind the DJ booth. Music, vinyls, dancing people - I liked that.
Understandably, it had become more and more difficult over time to follow both my office job in the financial sector and my DJ job. As long as I was DJing in Europe, everything was fine. A performance here, a performance there, Europe is a small continent. At the weekend I was the celebrated DJ, during the week I was in the office. Somehow I always found this contrast very amusing.
Over the years, my DJ career went through the roof more and more - especially from around 2009. My DJ agency at the time gave me a choice: I either quit my secure office job and am available as a DJ for much larger and longer tours; or I'll keep my secure office job and my DJ career can't grow any further. This was a very difficult situation for me.
There was another aspect, too: In the spring of 2010 I decided to buy an apartment. I went from bank to bank to apply for the loan. What I heard from most of the banks left me speechless:
"Ms. Gamper, get married and then come back to apply for the loan again."
I was single at the time and didn't earn too bad (mainly thanks to my DJ part-time job).
About ten years later I applied for another loan - this time for a flat as an investment. Since the sayings of the bankers from back then were still ringing in my ears, I brought in a financial advisor who arranged everything for me. The day of signing the loan contract came, I was about to sign it and couldn't resist confronting the banker with what the bankers had said back then. I wanted to hear his opinion before signing the contract. He was taken aback and confirmed that such comments from his colleagues were inappropriate and apologised on behalf of his colleagues. I signed and bought and invested in an apartment.
A RADICAL NEW BEGINNING
My situation in spring 2010 brought me to my knees mentally and I decided to make a radical new start. I quit my job, started my own business (as a career changer - which hardly anyone believes me to this day, if you look at my work) and founded HCG corporate designs.
I consumed just about everything there was in terms of education, courses (both paid and free) and learning materials on the internet and educational institutions and stuffed my brain so full of knowledge that I barely had time to sleep. I knew: I had to get on my feet quickly and accelerate.
Fortunately, it was always easy for me to learn independently and on my own. I also taught myself how to mix music on the DJ booth and how to skilfully mix records. Yes, I DJed with vinyls and it took me almost three months until I finally managed to mix two records perfectly.
In my DJ job, a big challenge came up: My agent at the time, who arranged (or was supposed to arrange) gigs for me and gave me the choice of “either an office job or a DJ job”, cancelled all previously confirmed DJ gigs after I quit my secure office job. I was shocked and personally very disappointed - after all, we had known each other for a few years and were friends. I was now financially in a dead end.
I still don't know with 100% certainty why my agent at the time acted like that. However, there was a suspicion that he wanted to make me financially dependent on him. He could have lowered my DJ fee to whatever he wanted and it would have been easier to “sell” me as a female DJ to male club owners and promoters.
You have to know that some female DJs don't earn most of their money with their performances, but with sexual services. I don't know how it is nowadays, but it was like that then, primarily on an international level and especially in Muslim countries (UAE, Indonesia, etc.). A club promoter in Dubai also offered me a four-figure sum for 20 minutes...
This kind of "deal" was always a thorn in my side, which is why I always tried to ignore it (looking back, I think how naive I was). Every time I got such a "request" I was completely shocked. Interestingly I was mainly confronted with it in connection with my DJ agency. Before and after working with this DJ agency, this topic hardly ever came up.
And so it happened that my well-paid DJ gigs were all cancelled after I quit my secure office job. A financial fiasco for me. I really felt cheated.
POTATOES IN TOMATO WATER
It is always said that all beginnings are difficult. Starting your own business is particularly difficult. HCG corporate designs was still in its infancy. I remember one Friday when I only had 16 Euros and 23 cents in my bank account. I had to buy groceries from it. Neither a new design job nor a new DJ gig was in sight at that time. I was financially drained.
So it happened that I bought the cheapest groceries I could find at the discount store: potatoes and mashed tomatoes. I bought a lot of the potatoes, after all they are the ones that fill you up. I stretched the mashed tomatoes with water and seasoned them with salt and pepper. So I had very cheap food for about two or three weeks: potatoes in tomato water.
After the bitter disappointment with my DJ agency, I left the agency and managed myself from then on. So it happened that after a while I went on tour as a DJ again - for example through India three times in one year. One tour was still in the accounts of my "old" DJ agency, the other two tours I arranged myself - including threats from the agency and fears about physical wellbeing. I was very grateful to my Indian tour manager for ensuring my safety through security and bodyguard.
The five-figure fees for such a DJ tour were a blessing for me and my bank account. The time with potatoes in tomato water was over - but I haven't forgotten it to this day (and probably never will).
THINGS STARTED TO CHANGE
For my last performance as a DJ, I flew to São Paulo in Brazil for two days. I was booked as the headliner of an open air. I knew this would be my last gig - after 7 years of DJing. However, I didn't tell anyone about my plan to give up my DJ career. I just wanted to save myself from a lot of drama.
For any music artist, the moment they leave the stage and return to their hotel room is their worst moment. This sudden 180 degree turn from stage, adrenaline and a great audience to silence and solitude in a hotel room in a country you don't even know is simply horrible. After this last booking in São Paulo, however, this moment was particularly bad for me - because I had decided: I put down the headphones and end my DJ career. Something that I had built up over many years with a lot of effort was now over. That night I cried many tears on the other side of the Atlantic. But even today I still believe that it was the right decision at the right time.
Slowly but surely things went uphill with HCG corporate designs. Of course I had to reconsider the positioning and the target group here and there and adjust it accordingly. But this fine tuning paid off. Over the years, the high standards I set for myself, my quality awareness and my striving for excellence have paid off in every respect. Over the years things went steadily uphill and I understood more and more that quality always prevails in the long run.
MY LIFE TODAY
Today I look back on twelve years of HCG corporate designs and am happy about my business, the quality seal of the initiative corporate design from designaustria, the status as a WIX partner, happy clients from 25 industries from eight countries on four continents, a great team and regular 6-figure annual sales.
Today I am thankful for the bad situation in spring 2010, because it forced me to do everything humanly possible to escape from this situation. It was an enormous effort, but my life today is the complete opposite of my life back then.
Today I live a life that I would never have dreamed of: my own business, in which I can perfectly combine creativity and business administration, great clients, exciting projects, 100% self-determination, travelling thanks to remote work and financial independence.
However, this life today is also hard. Really hard - but in a positive way. It takes a lot: 80-hour work weeks were not uncommon for me. Today, however, it's not quite as "bad" anymore, because I know how productivity works.
In addition, I now work with a small team that supports me. We all work remotely and I fulfill my big dream of travelling the world - even if unfortunately there is often far too little free time to see as much as I would like to. A problem I'm still struggling with but I'm working on a solution (whatever that might look like).
Nevertheless: Most of the people in my private environment are shocked when they see what it takes to work out the life I live today. I pay a high price for this life - primarily in terms of time, personal life, energy and strength. But I'm willing to pay that price. Not everyone is willing to go down this path and I can totally understand it. For me, however, it was the right path.
WHAT I REALLY CARE ABOUT
Because of my story, which you now know a little, it is very important to me to inspire people to live a self-determined life. I know so many people who procrastinate their dreams and therefore miss a lot in life. Life is short and you should always make the best of it.
As you can see, my potatoe-in-tomato-water dilemma has grown into a fine, small company with regular six-figure annual sales. I hope this blog article has inspired you and shown you what is possible if you consistently pursue your dreams and remain true to yourself, always and without exception.
If entrepreneurship is also your big goal, we will be happy to support you with a first-class brand design and web design. With this, you set the course for a serious and professional image that will convince your customers right from the start.