For as long as I can remember, like most little girls, I was going to be a teacher when I grew up. I loved playing school with my friends and sisters, and we had a ball using all of our “real” teaching props to educate one another.
I always wanted to make a difference and so I went off to college (at my dream school) and was on my way to teaching and molding young minds. But then something happened. I decided it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t in love with teaching. No I take that back. I loved teaching. I was passionate about it, I just wasn’t passionate about what I was teaching and the lack of creativity/freedom I was experiencing.
So I did some soul searching. In that time of reflection, I did a lot of baking because that is what made me happy and brought me peace. I was instantly taken back to my other childhood, love, cooking and baking and decided that is where I should be. So I ran off to the Texas food mecca, Austin, to go to culinary school and peruse my dreams of working in food.
At that time, if asked what I then wanted to do when I grew up, being a food writer (this was WAY before food blogs existed or at least were as popular as they are now), recipe developer, or owner of a cute B&B was at the top of the list. However, as I was in school and for several years after, I worked for several popular chain restaurants working my way “up” as I learned every single position in the restaurant industry. From my start as a hostess, to bar tending, to being a prep cook, to managing and training staff to catering. I learned a lot while working at these places but quickly got burned out. I was working all the nights, weekends and holidays and I had no creative freedom.
So I took a leap. Some (cough, cough… my parents) may say it was risky, but I just saw it as following my dreams.
I started this little blog of mine, to have that creative freedom and have a place to share my voice. And then I worked hard looking for jobs in the food industry where I could still be me. I still worked part time at a restaurant, but took every other opportunity that came my way. I helped other local chefs by cooking for their catering companies or meal delivery services. I bar tended special events. And then I was blessed to have the opportunity to work as a chef consultant for a meal planning app start up. Then, as chance would have it, I met the owner of a local kids cooking school; and was blessed with the opportunity to combine my two loves, cooking and teaching, but this time it was all about my passion- food.
I continued to work hard and was eventually able to quit the restaurant job and focus solely on blogging, teaching, recipe developing, and working as a private chef (cooking for small families, family owned hunting lodges and private events)! Despite doing all this for so many years, it took people actually telling me that I was a small business owner before I realized, that in fact dreams do come true! I guess I never really thought of it that way. But in fact, I was a small business! I had clients and business cards and business expenses that I submitted to my accountant each year.
To this day, the fact that I wake up and do what I love every day and earn a living doing it, almost doesn’t seem real. But it is!
Even though I didn’t set out to be a small business owner, I have several family members who own their own businesses and I do contract work with many local businesses as well. My family members own hair salons, fitness studios, nurseries, and are independent massage therapists. And I am blessed with the opportunity to teach cooking classes for several local cooking schools, including Cook, Learn, Grow and Patricia’s Table, as well as develop recipes for popular local brands, like Stubb’s Sauces and Marinades! I love watching all of my friends, family members and other entrepreneurs thrive and grow as individuals and well as business owners!
Because of this, supporting local is extremely important to me. I know how hard it is to run your own business. Be an entrepreneur. Take risks and follow your dreams. Not only do I want to support local businesses when I can, I think as being small business owners we can learn a lot from each other. That is why I am grateful for opportunities to meet, mingle and learn from other business owners.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to attend a small business networking event put on by The UPS Store. I met other local bloggers, photographers, restaurant owners, designers and many other inspiring small business owners. It was awesome to met these other entrepreneurs and I left the event feeling inspired! Not only did these individuals follow their dreams, they understood the struggle that small business owners have. Jae Kim, founder and owner of Chi’Lantro BBQ, spoke about his struggles to open his now super popular food truck. About how hard he worked, often working alone to get his business going and how in the early days, every little negative Yelp comment made him question his work, his passion, his dream. That he had doubt that people would show up. But the customers and extremely positive reviews and feedback finally came and now he not only has a popular food truck but brick and mortar location as well!
Since I have a unique “job,” I often get asked what my typical day is like. Truth is, I have no typical day. Most days I am running from the moment I wake up (around 6:30) to the moment my head hits the pillow (around 12 or 12:30, sometimes later) each night. Even though I work hard, I love every single minute of my day and am forever grateful that this is my life.
In general a typical day starts when I jump out of bed and immediately hop on the computer. This includes writing blog posts, responding to my never ending emails, scheduling social media shares, conference calls and administrative work for myself and several other small businesses. Depending on what is scheduled for the remainder of the day, I will take a break and go on a bike ride or a long walk/jog. Then around lunch the computer gets turned off and I head to the store or run other errands, liking mailing packages or heading to the bank. In fact, I am at the grocery store so much that the employees know me by name! Sometimes I am shopping for personal groceries/necessities, but mostly I am grabbing groceries for blog posts, cooking classes, or to cook for a personal family/small event. Then the afternoon entails recipe testing and photography at home, teaching kids cooking classes, visiting local farms (I have a very special place in my heart for the small farming business owners!!) or getting ready to work an event. Late afternoon/evening can evolve teaching an adult cooking class, working an event or cooking for client, attending a special event (like The UPS Store Small Biz Salute), going to meetings (I am on several planning committees and boards), or if I am lucky, getting to go on an evening walk/bike ride and hanging out with friends and family. Then, depending on the day, around 10 pm I hit the computer again to catch up on everything I didn’t get to during the day.
Just like me, The UPS Store is passionate about supporting small business owners. To celebrate Small Business Month, The UPS Store launched the Small Biz Salute campaign, which celebrates small business owners nationwide. This campaign recognizes small businesses for their hard work and gives them an opportunity to network and support each other. Not only is The UPS Store encouraging people nationwide to show their support of small businesses, I learned recently that all 4,400 locations nationwide are locally owned and operated; allowing more individuals to be small business owners! In addition to supporting and encouraging small business owners, The UPS Store has everything a small business owner needs to help run their business. From printing brochures to business cards, to offering mailboxes if your business is a “work from home gig” to being your shipping headquarters (when you are like me and shipping giveaways to loyal blog readers!). Since The UPS Store is so committed to helping small businesses (and individuals too!), they would like to give two lucky Kitchen Concoctions’ readers a $50 The UPS Store gift card (enter below)!