You guys, I'm going to launch a food product. Weeeee.
I know that seemingly came from nowhere, so lest you think I'm a dilettante that wants to try something "cool" and "fun" on a whim I can assure you it's something I've thought about for awhile.
Between my two stints in the world of publishing, I had a bit of formal experience in the food world--completing the chef's training program at The Natural Gourmet Institute and working as a chef, albeit briefly, thereafter . While I always knew toiling on a kitchen line wasn't exactly for me (due to little patience with the macho, sexist folk that tend to exist in those parts, plus a paycheck that makes it impossible to survive in NYC), I felt I could really do something innovative with creating and producing my own food product one day.
Fast forward (more than) a few years later to me tinkering in my kitchen with some spices that I felt could succeed in the world and mulling (ooo, good pun) over the idea of marketing them.
Shortly before Christmas of 2013, I found out about Fare Trade NYC's "Live Your Dream" Entrepreneur Launch Program. The timing couldn't have been more serendipitous. Here I was with a product, still in the infant stages, with no idea how or where to begin in launching it. In a nutshell, I applied for the program, Fare Trade NYC contacted me for an interview and taste testing, and about a week later was invited to participate in "Live Your Dream". The quick succession of these events were like being shot out of a cannon compared to the months of research Mo (the Mo half of Mei & Mo) and I had been doing.
So, here I am delving headfirst into this endeavor. The program has begun.
The first night was an overview of the 14 weeks that are to come. In actuality, it was an exercise in all of my existential anxieties welling up to the surface. I consider myself to be a fairly calm and confidant person, but when you feel elated and terrified at the same time it's hard to make heads or tails of it. I have literally never felt these two emotions at the same exact time before.
To add to it all, I needed to reveal a deep, shameful secret that had been dogging me--that is, not knowing how to drive. Uh, yeah. This is something that is going to be very helpful, if not necessary, in the future. If Monika and Chrissy were horrified when I dropped this news they did not bat an eyelash. They reacted extremely graciously, but I'm fully aware that the average person would think, "What kind of human adult does not know how to drive?" To boot, I grew up on Long Island, so there is no question that I should have known how to get myself to Contempo Casuals at Sunrise Mall in a vehicle by myself. This was the 90s and that's where girls that liked Depeche Mode and The Smiths bought their outfits, in case you need context.
While my heart still beats with excitement, abject terror, and occasional self-doubt, I've gradually been getting a handle on this whole thing by completing my weekly tasks, one step at a time (i.e. setting goals, starting the food handler's license process, deconstructing my product and creating variations of it).
Lesson: Let yourself (myself) be a beginner. It's all new, so don't beat yourself (myself) up for not knowing everything. People with expertise (hoorah, Chrissy, Monika, and Przemek) are there to guide you and want to see you succeed.