On Wednesday this week it will be officially one year since I stopped teaching. I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking around that fact. One year, since I identified myself as a full time 4th grade, Special Education teacher. Weird.
How did that even happen? Well, even though sometimes it seems like things happen over night, let me be clear and tell you that they certainly do not.
Many of you have been asking about my story…so here it is.
I had been plotting my departure from teaching in my head for about 2 years before I actually did it. I had started to put steps into motion one year before leaving. Danny and I spent many, many nights carefully planning and writing and rewriting business plans to see how we would actually make it work. Thank goodness Danny has background in business and works in financing, so he really knew what to do in the planning portion of it.
Once January 2011 hit, I started seriously planning. I started taking on some health counseling clients on the side and figuring out what direction I wanted to go in. I have to be honest when I say Pure Bliss Eats just kind of happened. It naturally evolved from me baking breakfast foods for Danny to eat AND from sharing it with friends and family. People really wanted food that was HEALTHY and DELICIOUS. I started to see that what I was making had a good shot of being a business.
Lots of planning went into effect, but coming up with the name was the hardest thing for me. It came to me (after A LOT of brainstorming with family & friends) on a prep period at work after seeing the quote my lovely co-teacher had written on a neon sentence strip on the wall. “Follow Your Bliss” by Joseph Campbell, which I now wear around my neck everyday thanks to Erica. Once the name was decided on, there was hiring someone to make a logo, packaging, product line, money etc. Lots of planning. No joke.
Everything was falling into place and I knew that once school ended, I had 2 months to hit the ground running HARD. I had two months to see if this would work before I actually quit on August 15th (that’s the mental date I set for myself to call and quit.) I had two months before I quit, but I was already DONE with teaching. My mind had left as of June 27th and I had slowly and quietly started packing up a couple weeks before school ended.
The end of June came and I went out and met with as many people as I possibly could about bringing Pure Bliss and my health counseling to my local community. I shared my message and mission with yoga studios, pilates studios, chiropractic offices, gyms and of course my family and friends. The support I received was ridiculous and overwhelming (something I still am thankful for EVERY SINGLE DAY). I had various opportunities to go into different studios with my Pure Bliss Eats goodies and share them with potential clients. I cannot tell you how important this was for me and my business.
To see people love my stuff was the assurance I needed that I was doing the right thing. I could go on and on here, but basically I spent the summer making sure there was a need and want for what I was doing. I saw there definitely was and on August 15th I made the hardest, best phone call of my life. I quit.
99% of the people I worked with were absolutely shocked. I never, ever shared my plans with anyone else. I couldn’t. I had to protect myself. That was hard for me because I felt like I was lying. I spent a lot of time complaining about teaching over the past 1.5 years. I didn’t realize how sad and miserable I was, especially after my Aunt Louise passing, until I came out of it over the summer in 2010. I knew I had to make a change. I couldn’t live like this forever. I was a happy person and teaching no longer made me happy. A change was to be made and it felt darn good.
So where did I leave off? Fall. In the Fall is when I researched getting licensed, insurance and all that jazz. I found a commercial kitchen that I would bake out of in Long Island City. (Note: Every state is different. Do some research and figure out the requirements for your state. In NY and MOST states in the US, you cannot bake out of your own kitchen. It must be a commercial kitchen!) It took some $$$ (like everything else in life!) and I got properly licenced, certified and insured. I cannot say enough about this process and how important it is. You NEED and MUST protect yourself and be properly licensed and insured if you are selling food. All it takes is one person for you to mess your life up….for LIFE.
I spent the Fall to the Winter approaching stores and getting into 7 different retail locations. Now we are rebranding and moving onward and upward. We have big things coming that I cannot wait to share with you.
I’ve shared this story about my small business journey because of 2 reasons. I get many, many emails a week that I write back to individually about people wanting to know my story and starting my own business. The other reason is that, when I was starting out, I didn’t come across many people, besides Lori and Michelle, that would offer ANY advice or guidance with starting your own food business. I did ALL my own research (with the help of Danny!) and I promised that if anyone ever asked me for help, I would help them as much as I could.
So this post was a DOOZY. I KNOW I left you without a lot of little facts (like what’s going on right now!), but this is the over all big picture story. I’ll do some follow ups eventually and share our recent journey with you.
What I’d LOVE for you to take out of this is the following:
- Follow your bliss. Take a leap and don’t look back.
- Dream big, but PLAN. Don’t go into anything blind. Make a plan A, B, C and D.
- Protect yourself. (Licensure, insurance, etc)
- Every time you make a business decision, whether right or wrong: Learn from it. Grow from it. Make the next decision even smarter because of your previous one.
- Be THANKFUL. Be humble. Say thank you to those who have helped you along the way.
- Use your local community. Go out and talk to people face to face. People WANT to help you.
- Have fun. Enjoy what you’re doing. You’re living your dream aren’t you?
And a sneak peek of our new logo….
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me! <3