Through much internal struggling and my debating the pros and cons, I have decided to re-launch my online sales division. I may have related the story to some of you that I stopped the online component of my business because the success rate through USPS (United States Postal Service) was very low, and packages went missing and things would break.
At this stage of the company, the only economical means to ship out my kimchi is still through USPS. However, I have decided to go with 16oz plastic jars this time around with the company I purchase my glass jars from. I am hoping that the plastic jars will hold up much better to withstand compression, impact and breakage during transit.
The only size that will be offered online is the 16oz jars, because the bottle company that I purchase my glass jars from do not currently produce 32oz plastic jars. The price of the 16oz jars sold online will be priced at $9.00/jar instead of the regular price of $10.00/jar. This is to accommodate customers that wish to purchase 32oz jars for $18.00, or more.
The smallest shippable flat rate box will be a medium box, and it could hold up to six 16oz jars. Shipping prices will be approximately $13.50.
I have included photos of the new 16oz plastic jars for your reference.
Please feel free to contact with any questions or concerns, and to place an order.
As this season's farmers markets is approaching rapidly, I just wanted to send out an information notice as to where you will be able to locate me this season.
I am currently working with the "Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Market" association.
Starting May 3rd, You will be able to find me as a vendor at Columbia City Farmers Market, from 3:00pm-7:00pm.
Then in June, you would be able to locate me at the Magnolia Farmers Market, from 10:00am-2:00pm on the starting date of June 3rd, 2017.
And I will be available at the Phinney Ridge Farmers Market starting on June 2nd, 2017, from 3:30pm-7:30pm.
I hope to see returning faces, and I am absolutely excited about this coming season.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
I am reinstating and enabling my e-commerce service for my webpage. If you live within 25 miles from the zip code of 98125, Seattle, I will offer you free delivery for your purchase(s).
I am also contemplating shipping my kimchi within the United States, once I figure out the logistics portion of my business.
Please order with confidence, that you will be receiving the highest-quality kimchi on the market. You will still have to enter your billing and home address at checkout, in order for me to deliver your kimchi to your preferred location.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
So my first day at the farmers market starts on May 3, 2017. I decided today was the day I started to craft my kimchi in anticipation for the upcoming markets. First and foremost, and the most critical aspect of crafting John's Kimchi is its paste, and it is somewhat labor-intensive, but I would like to invite you all to follow me on the journey:
It is an absolutely amazing feeling to be back to working for myself again. I can control the quality, and the decisions that goes into growing my business. And I love taking out the time necessary to craft the most delicious kimchi available, in the whole entire universe.
Please stay tuned to more upcoming progress reports.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
A couple of days ago, I received in the mail a 2017 Permit to Sell at NFM (April - December 2017). I have been permitted to vend at Columbia City Farmers Market on Wednesdays, from 3:00pm to 7:00pm, Phinney Farmers Market every Friday from 3:30pm - 7:30pm, and Magnolia Farmers Market every Saturday from 10:00am - 2:00pm. I am also on a wait list for University District, West Seattle, and Capitol Hill Farmers Markets - I was really hoping to get into the latter three markets, but for my second season of being in business, I will take what I can get.
I had been anxiously anticipating this permit, because I was getting very restless as to what the future holds for John's Kimchi, and I have been so relieved to finally know that I will be a vendor for the 2017 Farmers Market season. During the market offseason, I have been toying with a lot of different ideas and food products that I will eventually be offering when John's Kimchi has its own physical location as a restaurant as well as a brick and mortar retail space. I have been working on an outline for a business plan that I hope to refine and complete in order to present to Angel investors or banks when the time comes to raise capital for my restaurant.
I really don't have much more to speak of at this point, but I look forward to seeing everyone this summer when the market starts in May!
"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change." - Charles Darwin
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
It has been quite a while since I have posted anything in regards to John's Kimchi. The reason being is, my business has gone into stasis mode during the winter months as I am awaiting word on which farmers market I will be participating in with the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Market (SNFM) association. I received a newsletter from them recently that stated that they will be sending out "permits to sell" by mid February to late February, so I am anxiously awaiting the results. I applied to five or six different markets, and if I get approval to vend in most of them, I will have a very busy season starting May, 2017.
It has been quite a while where I was at a market to grow John's Kimchi, and I have been itching to get back to it, but the venues just aren't there for my product right now, so I had to pick up a part-time job working as a server at The Ram. The crazy thing is, I am making so much money at the ram in half the time that I was spending at my former government job, that I am able to support myself, and it affords me the time to plan strategically for the next steps to take in regards to John's Kimchi. The work is grueling, but the sacrifice will be worth it in the end, given the flexibility.
It is kind of crazy, to look back to think that I have been living in Seattle for over three years, and three years of struggle it has been. But, now, I'm at a point where everything is starting to fall into place, and I believe I am at the precipice of success and profit, and it scares me. That notion has been paramount of my thought process for about a good week, because I never thought I would arrive at this place. It easy to write it down chronologically, but its harder to envision when I have to recall all the pains, doubts, and sacrifices it took to get to this point. And the doubts from parents telling you, you haven't amounted to anything and suggesting that your business venture is merely a pipe dream.
Working at The Ram as a server has proven to be a great education towards my ongoing goals of eventually starting up my own small restaurant. I am being very observant of what works and what doesn't work, and I plan to take that knowledge when it is time for me to depart and to take my business to the next level.
Before, the idea of opening up a restaurant absolutely terrified me, but I have worked it all down. I do not have to open up a big restaurant - I could always start small like a Chipotle-style restaurant, and work my way up from there. I whole-hearted believe in my skills and my food products, and I am merely awaiting my opportunity to introduce my culinary skills to the world. As difficult as it may appear, pleasing the palettes of the masses is quite simple - provide the best, wholesome food possible, and your customers will come back for more. And, at the expense of appearing arrogant, I am very confident I craft some very delicious food.
I was at a family function during Thanksgiving when someone purported that you will not be able to make a Vietnamese-style soup that tastes great without using Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). And I thought to myself quietly, I make the best Pho without using MSG, and I plan on making all of my products as far from being processed as possible, so the niche market is there. I just wish one day everyone would be able to sample my Pho and so much more that goes on in my head.
There was a lot more that I wish to write about, but I have a very terrible short-term memory, and my thoughts alludes me. But I just wanted to let everyone know that I am still here, in the depths of my mind, trying to work out the next possible course for John's Kimchi.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
Starting tomorrow at Fremont, and until the end of the year, I will be offering a promotional discount on my kimchi products, so come out to the market and purchase yourself some kimchi at a great price! They also make a great, small, additional Christmas gift and as stocking stuffers :). I look forward to seeing everyone out at Fremont for the upcoming month!
Regular price was $10 for 16oz jar, and $18 for 32oz jar. Discounted prices will be $8 for 16oz and $14 for 32oz.
Also, I have been entertaining the idea of reinstating my E-commerse store to include shipping. I will most likely being using United Parcel Service or Fedex as my logistic provider. The price of shipping will be expensive, but I believe I will be able to ensure proper delivery through these services, as opposed to the many lost and damage packages I experienced with USPS. I will be ramping this up in the following days and week. I am not expecting my E-commerse store to generate any appreciable means of revenue, but rather, I want to let my customers have the options of ordering John's kimchi if they really want it, and I have had many enquiries as to whether I ship or not, so I believe it is time.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
So, I have been neglecting my blog posts for a long while now due to the fact that there has been a lot of personal, emotional, and financial issues in my life that I had to tend to, so here goes:
The past four weeks have been a tumultuous uprising, and I have neglected John's Kimchi, and I feel very bad about it, but life dictates the best course of actions to undertake, and I only did what I knew I had the control over to do. Where to start. I do not even know where to begin.
I guess the biggest point to address was that I was running out of working capital - boy, is that a punch-in-the-gut feeling; not being able to meet your operating expenses to continue to run your business when you know for a certain fact that you're at the cusp of being successful. So, due to unforeseen circumstances, I was late on paying my rent for over two weeks. Then the hammer came down, and they left me a letter attached to my door with an eviction notice stating that if I was not able to pay the rent in three days’ time, my lease would be terminated and actions will commence to evict me. That there was quite the ride.
At the time, I felt like I had no other options left, and I entertained the idea of placing all of my belongings into storage and living out of my car for a few months. But then, there's this nagging issue of my dog, who’s a six-month puppy and how I was going to care for her, and having to find a solution of where I was going to shower and stuff. So, I told myself, I could keep my gym membership at LA Fitness and just shower there periodically and I would be able to just go on about my way. That was not a prospect I was really looking forward to.
In any case, I really needed to dig deep to figure out a way to survive for the next few months to be able to pay my bills/debts and sustain John's Kimchi. I was running out of options, and, so, I reached out to my parents, and they came through in the clutch - that's what parents are for :). So, I was afforded a month or two of extra time, and I was going to make every penny count. And I am so poOr at this point, it makes me want to cry, but, I'm all out of tears, and the only thing left in me that is made of salt my own sweat and salty demeanor, and sweating is the only thing I have ever been good at.
But I had all faith in John's Kimchi's future, and I knew it was only a matter of time. First you have to crawl, then you learn to walk, and I knew I was merely paying my dues as a first-time business owner who is way under-capitalized. But I knew that if I just kept moving forward, things would change very soon, and I would be given the opportunity to prove to the ones whom loves me that I knew what I was doing all along.
So, about a week ago, the applications for the Seattle's Farmers Market Association opened up its doors to venders wishing to vend for 2017. I went ahead and applied to the University Districts year-round Saturday Market, and the West Seattle and Capitol Hill's year-round Sunday markets. Here's hoping for the best. I've done all I could up to this point, so I don't know what else to do at this point in regards to gaining a larger market exposure for John's Kimchi.
Working at The Ram has been a lot of fun. It’s so easy, though I still have much to learn in regards to the menu and how the point of sales terminals work. But, as I had predicted, all I have to do is show up to work, do a good job, and go home - no stress. And everyone working there seems really nice, and they all want to help each other, almost like a cohesive unit. I am enjoying my time there, and I hope to make a bigger impact with The Ram as I garner more experience and become more efficient and more proficient with the whole system.
I received my first full paycheck from The Ram, which entailed 20-hours per week for two weeks, and the amount was mind-blowing. And that is given that I was scheduled in the slower sections, so I can only imagine the kind of money I will be bringing in if I was working, say, 35-hours per week. This is all a game changer. I am glad I stuck it out and decided to do my best to get a job with The Ram. Things are all falling into place now.
I have missed the Fremont market for the past three weeks, due to not having the time to make kimchi, and not having all the necessary supplies to bring my kimchi to market in time. But I am happy to inform everyone that I will be back at the Fremont market this Sunday, and I apologize to my customers for the past three weeks for my absence.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
I have been toying with some ideas for a sales promotion, and, being that Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, the promotion will be happening throughout the month of December - I love going to the stores when they play Christmas music, and it just places me in a warm and fuzzy mode.
Starting December 1st, there will be a 25% discount on all purchases of 16oz and 32oz jars, when purchased in whole cases - each case contains 12 jars of each size. This will be a great opportunity for everyone to save some money on John's Kimchi, and they present an excellent idea for christmas presents for those whom you know are Kimchi consumers. And they would also be great stocking stuffers, given that you can keep the stockings tacked to the wall with a jar of kimchi in it.
You may be able to purchases cases of kimchi directly from my website, and there will be free delivery if you are located within 25 miles of the Northgate Mall. You could also come purchase the cases of kimchi, if you have arranged to do so with me before hand, and be able to come pick up your kimchi at the Fremont Sunday Market - which I hope to be back at this coming Sunday.
I am also starting to toy with the idea of introducing Vietnamese-Style subs, at the local markets in the future. I have always wanted to try my hand at Vietnamese subs, because I like them a lot, and I think they will be a great complement to the kimchi offered because it will be a compact operation, clean, neat, and not requiring a lot of additional equipment to haul around. So please keep an eye out on that announcement as I start to experiment with different recipes for sub sandwiches.
A final note, this coming Christmas will be the first Christmas that I will purchase a live Christmas tree for my residence. I am super excited. It will probably contain only a single lightbulb, but it going to be so much fun, and its going to smell awesome (to mask the urine scent that my 3lb Yorkie has left for me all around my apartment's carpets and rugs).
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
Okay, so I have been busy training for my new serving job at The Ram since last Monday, and today was supposed to be my day off, but I was asked to come in today, to conduct a bit more training in order to take my final serving job examination. I had, with all intents and purposes, to make a batch of kimchi today, because I had taken off this Sunday from Fremont, and I will have to take next Sunday off, because I still haven't made any kimchi, and I require at least 10 days of fermentation before I bring my kimchi to the market.
So I have been receiving a lot of random calls while I have been training away at my serving job, most of them bill collectors and 800 numbers. So I finally passed my serving test today, and I just wanted to just go home and celebrate, because it has been a long and trying week, and I don't have a day off until this coming Sunday, but a bOss always have to carry on and do what is necessary. So as I was at home cleaning my apartment and meal prepping, I received a call from an 800 number, and I am thinking to myself, great, another bill collection call. And I told myself, I don't have any money, so leave me alone. But I had decided to pick up anyways, and, to my surprise, it was one of my previous kimchi customers. She asked me if this was John from John's Kimchi, and I responded yes. She then proceeded to ask me how she could go ahead and order kimchi from me, and how the shipping process worked. So I informed her, as my usual speal, that I have encountered many difficulties when it came to shipping my kimchi.
So I told her about my struggles starting John's Kimchi as an e-commerce store, but the lost and damaged packages with United States Postal Service rendered that avenue inoperable. I then asked her if she was local, and it would be easier for her to just order online and come pick up the kimchi in Northgate, right by the mall, since I live there. And she was delighted with that option, because she didn't want to pay for shipping, and I don't want my customers to pay for shipping unless they have to. But I did inform her that I have had many requests to ship my kimchi, and I am seriously thinking about starting my online business again. I had a customer purchase kimchi from me last week, and she asked me if I shipped, and I replied no. She said that she was going back to Hawaii, and she wouldn't be able to purchase anymore kimchi from me. So I told her, if you really want me to attempt to ship you kimchi, then just message me later on and I will do my best. So, at this point, John's Kimchi is only shipping out orders at special requests.
In any case, I am sorry to disappoint some of my customers for not being at Fremont this past Sunday, and this upcoming Sunday. I have been very busy trying to get into the grove of my new part-time job, but I will be back soon.
Thank you for everyone's support so far. I am getting quite famous, and I really don't know what to do with myself at this point
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
Okay, so I have been very excited to come home from the market today to blog, because I have so many things going through my head, and so much I want to say :). Please excuse my being all over the place, because my mind operates at a million miles an hour, and I truly have a very difficult time trying to rein in all of my thoughts, and all the contentious voices for my attention inside my head.
For the past two weeks, my number one objective was to secure a job with The Ram, as I have already mentioned previously. Throughout that time, I was very distraught, and I wondered to myself why the whole world always conspires against me. That's not actually true, I like to exaggerate from time to time, but, I will have to honestly admit, nothing in life ever comes easy for me, but its much more fun that way :). And so, I may or may not have fabricated some parts of this blog for both our entertainment. "are you not entertained!"
So I had grand plans of making more kimchi to vend at the Fremont market, after I found out I got a job with The Ram this past Tuesday. I didn't really want to do anything in life except drink my life away and eat in excess until I knew I had secured a job. As it turns out, I woke up on Wednesday morning with a crazy whirlwind of sneezing, and I just thought to myself, I know where this is going. But being as stubborn as I am, I decided to show up at my local Starbucks, coughing and sneezing away like nobody's business, while I did some reading on cars. That has been my usually routine of late, having coffee and surfing the internet for about and hour and then heading to the gym. For some reason, when I arrived at the gym, I was feeling fine, and I decided to spend about two hours there (not recommended). So I was feeling super great and indestructible and everything, so I decided to go home. That's when everything hit the fan. I started coughing and sneezing uncontrollably, and snot was running out of my nose without any filtration. And I am thinking to myself, are you serious right now?! Why can't I just live my life and enjoy a little bit of success?
In any case, as is always, I tried to take it like a champ. I had all intentions of crafting more kimchi for the following week, but my cold, for once, had finally kicked my ass. And I was in no shape to be making any kimchi. When I was in the Air Force, I don't ever recall taking a sick day. And luckily for me, they have all been colds. And I told myself, its only a cold, nothing to be taking time off for, so I would always show up to work even with a cold. I figured, if there are soldiers risking their lives on the front line of combat, sacrificing everything they've got, I could very easily weather a silly cold. But, as I transitioned to government work, and the Veterans Affairs Health Administration, of all others, I came to realize that people don't want you to show up to work with a cold, because they may catch it themselves. And being in the food industry, and taking various different courses for food safety, the number one thing is, if you're sick, do not show up to work. Luckily for me while I was working for the VA, I was given a certain amount of sick leave every month. So for the first time in my life, even if I wasn't sick, I'd just call in sick, because, hey, it was free vacation time.
One time I broke my pinky, while under the employment of the federal government by hurting myself carrying a very heavy load of laundry. I had to get surgery done, and I took about a week off to "remedy" my injury :). Another time, while hastily running down the stairs, with a heavy load of laundry, I slipped, fell, plummeted, and broke my toe. And let me assure you, alcohol was not ever involved in either cases. So I went to the emergency room, and the doctor told me to get some rest, so I took another week off :). I was pretty good taking a lot of different description pain medication.
So back to all things relevant. I had a crazy fit of illness last night, and I was in and out of sleep, and I looked at the time, and it was about 05:00, and I told myself, I do not want to go to the market today. But I laid in bed, questions my thoughts and I told myself, John Tran, with great powers comes great responsibilities, and you can't let everyone down. So I woke up at about 0800, and I got to preparing for the market, grudgingly.
So I decided to show up at Fremont today, and I just happened to show up when everyone else decided they wanted to show up at the same time, so, to say the least, it was kind of a circus for the market organizers trying to get everyone situated. And all during that time, when under stress and pressure, I noticed a lot of people showing their asses like baboons. And I just don't really understand it, just take it for what it is and lets all be cordial and work through it all. But, as is in life, and as is in people feeling empowered behind driving their vehicle on the roads and road raging because they feel protected under their cocoon, they show their asses, and its very disappointing. But it is what it is.
In any case, today at the market was very fun and interesting. It was very much fun because my gross sales were much higher than I would had anticipated, and I got to interact with my customers, fully aware, without having to worry where my next meal will come from. I had a really good time, because now I can slow down and watch John's Kimchi grow at a natural, organic rate, instead of me trying to force-feed everything down its throat, and, without fail, be fully disappointed in the process.
One interesting interaction was, when a girl (presumably Korean) came up to my booth and told me she wanted to purchase a 16oz jar of kimchi from me, without having even sampled it. I found this to be totally out of left field, because, I have noticed, to my disappointment, that whenever asian folks walk by my stall, they seem to laugh, snicker, or chuckle to themselves, as if saying, really, someone is trying to sell kimchi at the market?! And it is disappointing, because when I had conceived John's Kimchi, I had expected my customer base to be mainly Asian folks, and I thought to myself, where would be a better place to start a kimchi business than in Seattle, Washington, where there are a diverse amount of asian people. To my disappointment, Asian folks account for less than 20% of my customer base - I will go into detail on this in a later post.
But to my dismay, she actually wanted to purchase kimchi from me without trying a sample, from an asian person, and that is rare, based on my experience. And being me, I don't like to sell my product unless they are absolutely satisfied with it. So I implored her to try a sample, anyways. And she agreed. Upon sampling, she said never mind, she would like to purchase a 32oz jar instead. Which was absolutely surprising, assuming she is Korean and they are my hardest critics. Then she told all of her friends to come up to my booth. So, literally, about 12 of them, all in their early 20s, rallied up at my stall. And I am thinking to myself, this has never happened before, so much interest in my kimchi from young, Asian folks. As I have mentioned, most of the Asian girls that pass by my booth never look twice, and if they did, they either snickered, scoffed, laughed, or giggled (I fancy that they giggled because I am bald and almost handsome, but that is never the case).
So at this point, I have kind of lost track where I am going with this blog.
Oh, so I start my orientation and training on Monday, tomorrow, pacific time. I had ordered three different pairs of jeans in anticipation of my new job :). I ordered them in sizes 30x29. The only problem is, I have let myself go for much too long, and I can't, for the life of me, button up those pants. Sure, If I was at my ideal weight of 135lbs, I could fit into them easily, but I am bordering on 170lbs. Being unemployed does that to you :). So its time to get super serious about losing weight, and bringing sexy back. Maybe I will chronicle my weight loss journey here with all of you. But I warm you, the before photos aren't very pleasing to the eyes, but its always fun to try to lose weight.
So, when I started this blog, I had it all set in my mind on how I would integrate my secretary into this post. But, after a few beers, I have totally forgotten. But I would like to say, I am very happy that my secretary has the best CEO possible, and I am happy for her. She's been through it with me since day one, and I appreciate it. She's probably the sweetest girl you'll ever meet, and I am glad she has me in her life. My favorite photo of her is embedded below.
Okay, time for my ramble to end. Until the next.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
So I have been very frustrated with the pace that my business has been growing, and I am a very impatient person by nature. When I decided to start John's Kimchi, I had pretty much staked my whole life on it, and threw every possible resources I was able to to making it successful, to include: working capital, time, energy, and a tremendous amount of labor that has yet to be accounted for - which, at the time, I thought it wise to terminate my full-time employment with the federal government to pursue my dream of becoming a business owner.
It has been a difficult journey thus far, because a lot of people will think you're crazy, or naive, or just plan crazy. Many people will admonish you for why you gave up the security of a government job to pursue a silly idea such as making and selling kimchi and making a living off it - actually, the only admonishment on that front is my dad, who believes I was crazy to have given everything up to undertake such a silly notion. The only problem is, my dad is a very depressing person, and he doesn't understand the vision I have laid forth for myself and my mission of gaining my independence. But it is okay, because I know that one day, I will prove to everyone that I had it all figured out from the beginning.
I have all the faith and confidence in my skills and abilities to make John's Kimchi successful. The most difficult period is the start-up phase, where you're fighting every inch to make any headway. But I have never been one to ever give up on anything I believe in, and so, here I am, a poOr and struggling CEO of a corporation of one individual. But there will one day be a silver lining, as long as I approach each and every day as an opportunity to achieve my goals.
I have learned insurmountable, and invaluable lessons that may only be garnered from being in business for yourself. I have taken many business courses and have read my share of business books to believe that I possess knowledge and skills for what it takes to be my own boss. But let me tell you, as confident as I was, I was very humbled and very wrong. Whenever possible, I like to learn from other people's mistakes, and then I incorporate those learnings into my very own life. But as much as I like to steadfastly adhere to that formula, there's nothing anyone else can tell you about your very own specific and unique business. I had to learn that the hard way, but I would not have learned it any other way. If I knew then what I knew now, would I do certain things differently? ABSOLUTELY!!! But life goes on, because every mistake is a lesson to be learned, and I just have to get back on my feet and find another way.
I believe I have become very resilient throughout my life thus far. I have done a lot of things where most people would have given up and walked away - an example will be illustrated shortly. People are quite fond of saying everything happens for a reason. I do not believe that at all. Things in life happens, and it's up to you to find the "silver lining," or the opportunities in any adverse situation. Life is a crucible by fire, so let it mold you into the strongest of steel - though I wish I was Wolverine, because my whole existence would be made of Adamantium and I would be indestructible and I would never have to worry about a thing in the world.
So fast forward to today: for the past few months, I have been very stressed out and very much under pressure, because each and every week that passes by, without my business being able to support me, I grew closer and closer to being evicted from my apartment and becoming a homeless person. I have exhausted all of my financial resources to keep John's Kimchi solvent, and I have come to realize success does not happen over night, no matter if you have a winning product or service to offer to the world. And that was my biggest mistake throughout all of this. I was working too furious and too fast to make my business a success, but not realizing what it truly takes to be successful. That is, it takes a lot of pain and error to finally get your business to catch traction. And the most difficult aspect of running a business is being under-capitalized, because you have so much you want to do, then you run out of working capital, and you're left stranded on your very own island of doubt.
So I have come to realize that John's Kimchi is going to need a lot more time of nurturing than initially anticipated. "Baby steps," as my secretary would always remind me. So recently, I was at a juncture in my life: give up what I have worked so hard for, or fight tooth and nail to never, ever fail? And I have come full-circle.
See, in my younger years, when I was bordering on dropping out of college, I spent most of my life as a server for various restaurants. I had no idea of what I was going to do for the rest of my life, but I had told myself being a server was not it. So I enlisted into the United States Air Force to secure a decent living. That was also the point when I decided to continue to pursue my college education, which I accomplished. Then, when I got out of the military, it took me one and a half years of unemployment to secure a job with the federal government, and I thought my life was set. But I was very unhappy with the politics and the bureaucracy involved, and so, I developed a very great distaste for government work, or any corporate work to speak of. That was when I decided to branch out on my own to work for myself.
Well, now I have come back full-circle, because along the way, all the business relationships you build and all the "friendships" you thought you may have built are all just lies. Not to be cynical, just from personal experiences, but your "friends" and business partners will leave you high and dry at their very earliest convenience. I had a job lined up, but the business owner got too successful for his own good, and started to treat me, whom I thought was a friend to him, just like another number on the roster, and it sucks. But such is life.
As mentioned early, I was at the end of my rope, and I was very close to being evicted, so I told myself I had to secure part-time employment as soon as able. There is this restaurant named "The Ram,' which is family-owned and operated, and I have had the opportunity to frequent as a guest and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. Then, when things really got bad, I told myself, why not see if I could get a job with them? I have the experience as a server, and I have no desire in me to ever work a full-time corporate job or be a public employee as far ahead as I can see. That is because I went into business knowing exactly what I want. But then, at this point in my life, a serving job seems to fit my needs economically just right, and the flexibility to work on my business concurrently without becoming homeless.
So, out of necessity, I decided to go to The Ram and enquire if they were hiring any servers, or maybe even a buss person position. I was greeted by one manager whom I took a liking to, and we sat and conversed for a little while. Then he tells me that they're hiring servers, and I should apply online to follow protocol and for corporate headquarters to have a record of my application. He mentioned that, I may not know, but they may call me back the following day to come in to interview. Long story short, I was told to come back so many times and having to reschedule. I literally applied two weeks ago, and I was turned away so many times, but I never gave up, because I knew I really wanted that job. It's literally a skip and a hope away from my apartment, so I would save so much time not wasted in Seattle traffic, and gas to get to my job. So I knew very well that this was the only job I wanted. That, and I was explained that I would be paid $13 an hour, plus a secured 19% in tips off every dinning ticket. I was thinking to myself, are you serious?! I could do this for the rest of my life, and put aside net income, after subtracting expenses, into an S&P 500 index fund and I could be rich!
But I was met with many challenges, and I was turned away eight times previous, and I joked to my secretary that the ninth time is the charm. But, being me, I never give up, unless its totally out of my control. So I kept showing up for the past two weeks to get the job, and I finally got my interview today. And they hired me :). So now, I no longer have to worry about finances. I will be able to work as a server - which I think I would really enjoy - and operate my business concurrently. I believe I will have such a great time with this job because I am able to just show up, take care of my patrons as best as able, and go home and have a cold beer and be able to sleep at night, without having to worry about politics and having to walking over anyone to get ahead in life. And as far as my business, sure, its not where I want it to be at the moment, because, when you're starting out, you have to gain approval of a lot of approving officials, but even so, if I do not get to grow on their terms, just have faith in me that in three year's time, I will make my own way.
On a side note, I had entertained the idea of closing John's Kimchi for a few months until the next farmers market season rolls around, but, as always, my secretary is my voice of reason, and she advised that I just keep making kimchi. And to not give up. So, if any of my customers want to stop by The Ram in Northgate to dine and say hi, please feel free, I would be delighted to see you. And, as far as your kimchi needs, if you ever need to restock, please come visit me every Sunday at the Fremont Sunday Market. I will be there, and I won't let you down :).
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
Had this lying around
So Kimchi got her stitches removed exactly seven days ago, and now she's really healthy. She also received her first professional grooming today, and now she doesn't look all homeless like she did when I attempted to kill her with my clippers.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
About a month and a half ago, while sitting at a stoplight, and just minding my own business and trying to exist, my beloved car got rear-ended by an SUV. I am not really sure how I got hit so hard from sitting at a complete stop.
See photos below:
Initially, from my very own, unprofessional assessment, I had figured that the car would be repairable. But, when I was able to bring my vehicle into the auto repair shop, the estimator's estimate was at least $4,000 from just observations. So I left my car at the shop, and a few days later, the same estimator informed me that upon further inspect - without even pulling out any parts to uncover the damages to the structures - he had already estimated the repairs to be around $6,500. Then he continued to inform me that, because my car was ten-years-old, he was not sure if the at-fault party's insurance would be willing to repair the damages, but, instead, would deem it a total loss.
The problem at the time was, I really loved my car, and she (Emma) has treated me very well within four years of ownership, and especially in this cold, dark, and unforgiving place I call home, Seattle.
A little less than three years ago, I had packed everything I could into my car and made my trek from Orlando, FL, to Seattle, WA, and she was a champ along the way. I was hoping to hold on to Emma for at least another ten years, and she was only at 112,000 miles when she was rear-ended. She never gave me any issues, and she was super mechanically sound.
So the verdict came back, and the estimator mentioned that, because my car was ten-years-old, and the repair costs could amount to over $10,000, the likelihood of the insurance company deeming my car a total loss was very likely. And I was very saddened by that revelation, because I loved my car. But as life dictates the moving on of many things, I had to accept that fact.
Last week, I received a settlement offer from the insurance company, and to be quite honest, I made out like a bandit! After almost four years of ownership, my car was paid out where I only lost about $6,000 in depreciation, and they offered me an amount much higher than I would have been able to sell privately on my own. But the next challenge was looking for an acceptable replacement, and that was a difficult task that has taken up most of my attention for the past week or so.
My criteria was that, I wanted to purchase a vehicle that was large enough in order for me to transport John's Kimchi's equipment and merchandises to and fro the Farmers markets. I needed a vehicle that was priced at under $5,000, and that was still reliable and would last me for at least three years. And so, without going into much details, I have located, negotiated, and have signed the papers on a vehicle that I will be paying cash for, all in the name of my business. Photos below:
I scheduled a test drive for that Pontiac Torrent this morning, and I got a good feel for it. And it seemed mechanically sound for a 2008 vehicle. To be honest, I have never even heard of this car before, but it was in my price range, and it would be a great work vehicle. Then I told my salesman I would not be able to do any paperwork, and I needed to take my dog to enroll in veterinary services, and that I would be back in about an hour and a half. He asked me if I wanted to take the car on a demo until I got back, and I said yes. During that time, I was able to establish a more intimate relationship with the car, and I noticed some issues I would not have noticed if I were not able to drive it for a few hours. So I went back and addressed the issues and to have them fixed, and then signed a bunch of paperwork and now I have a new work vehicle.
It is a nice feeling to no longer carry a car note, especially at this juncture of my business when I'm just merely trying to remain solvent. because, quite frankly, I am not in a position just quite yet to purchase a jet-propelled airplane to use as my daily driver.
Either way, thank you for playing.
Post script: I have decided to name my new work vehicle Donkey the Mule.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
Kimchi, my four-month pup, was getting a little shaggy and needed a grooming really bad, because every time she would try to scratch herself, she would have her nails tangled up in her matted hair, and she would always cry out and I would have to come running to release her from herself. So I told myself whenever I had time, I would attempt to groom her and then bathe her. That day was yesterday.
Normally, I would take my dogs to the groomer to receive a professional grooming, but I am running on empty, and I just couldn't afford to take her to a groomer. So I made up my mind that I would groom her myself with my very own clippers that I cut my hair with. It came with a pretty long guard, so I thought it would be okay. I had no illusions as to having any idea of what I was doing, but I had to do what I had to do.
So I started trying to groom her, and the clipper was not cooperating and I was just taking random patches of hair off her. On top of that, her hair was really tangled and matted, which made the clipping process so much more difficult. Along the way, I thought I had figured it out and I started trimming her hair down really close, and I had thought I did a really good job of cutting off most of her hair when I did an inspection of the intermediate grooming phase when I noticed that I had cut her skin up really good in many different places. When I saw the injuries, it didn't quite register to me yet, but when saw a really deep cut the size of a quarter on her underbelly, I lost it and started crying uncontrollably. I cried because, when I brought Kimchi home as a baby, I knew it was my duty to love and protect her, but here I am, the one person that has inflicted upon her the injuries, and I wasn't sure how I felt, and I panicked. So I placed her on the ground, and surprisingly, she was running around and functional as if nothing was wrong with her, and she was just staring at me intently, awaiting my attention, and she didn't appear to be upset with me. But I knew I had to get her some medical attention, and I did a quick search for any pet hospital that were still open at 7:30pm, and, luckily, I was able to locate a 24 hour emergency vet hospital just about five minutes away from me, so I wrapped her in a towel and got to driving there.
When we arrived at the hospital, I approached the front desk and the receptionist asked me what the matter was, and I told her I was grooming her and I cut her, and I broke down and became very hysterical. The female technician took a quick survey of her and told me it isn't too bad, and that the laceration did not penetrate her stomach, which was good. So they took her in right away, and they had me fill out paperwork and asked me to wait to be consulted by the doctor. They placed me in this room, with one single dim light and the nurse walked out and closed the door. I know the dim lighting was supposed to be soothing, but I couldn't bear it, and after about ten minutes of anxiously waiting in that small room, I walked out and asked if I could just wait in the common waiting area and they said yes.
Eventually, and what seemed like not soon enough, the doctor came to see me and we went back into that small room. He informed me that the injuries aren't very bad, and that it is not an uncommon injury and he sees it all the time when owners try to groom their dogs with long hair that are really tangled and matted very close to the skin. He informed me that the care she will receive will likely cost in the ballpark of $600-800 dollars, and I became emotional, and I told him I only have $500 in my bank account. He asked me if I could give them a part of the money that night and take care of the rest later, and I told him I could pay them $450, and so he went to work and I paid $400. It was nearing 8pm, and the doctor told me Kimchi would be ready to go home at 11pm, so he said I could go home and come pick her up in a few hours. One of the front desk lady asked me if I wanted to go say bye to her and took me to the back. She was in a cell, and she just looked at me with loving, compassionate eyes, and she was very forgiving and understanding, and she just wanted me to protect her.
So I decided to go home and eat, because I had not eaten since noon that day and I was starving. I started to prepare my food but I just couldn't eat. So I decided I needed to just go back to the hospital and just wait for her there. I washed my face, dried my tears, and changed my clothes, because my sweater had gotten blood on it when I was holding Kimchi. And back to the emergency room it was.
Eventually, after a two hour wait, and what seemed like forever, Kimchi was ready to go home with me. The doctor came out and told me they put on two stitches on her, and the total cost of care was going to be around $500. I was so relieved, and I believe they gave me a discount because I was so hysterical and crying when I brought her in, and that I am poOr. But I am very thankful and grateful for their kind gesture.
I am very glad and happy to inform that Kimchi is doing so much better this morning. She was very traumatized last night and cried for most of the night until we both went to sleep together in my bed. This morning, she was eating and playing well, and she seemed to be 90% healthy.
So in my attempt to save $50 on grooming cost, the final result ended up costing Kimchi much anxiety, pain, and being traumatized, and ended up costing me $500 at the end of the day.
Moral of the story, always leave it to the professionals, because, sometimes, trying to do something yourself where you have no idea what you are doing will cost you much, much more in the long run. And in my case, it costed me 10x what I would have paid for if I would have just taken my baby to the groomers.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
This past month has been filled with a lot of frustrations and emotions. Doubt has started to rear its ugly head, and it is an image and emotion that I do not really care so much for. I don't want to come off as arrogant, but I have always taken a lot of pride in my abilities and what I am able to accomplish when it comes to something I really believe in and enjoy doing - I don't like to live life with regrets, and I can assure you that I have made plenty of mistakes on this whirlwind ride we all call life, but I have never regretted any of my decisions. because of those bad decisions, they have forged me into something and someone I am really proud of. In life, I like to take chances and calculated risks, because I never want to look back one day when I am old and feeble and having to lament over things I should have accomplished in life.
A fact about me, I really love to read self-improvement books. I believe every day I am able to get out of bed is a day that I will take full advantage of to improve as many aspects of being alive as possible. There was a particular book that I read that made me realize how important it is to live a life on your terms. A nurse whom oversees the care of the elderly and dying was asked what are the top five things her patients' regretted most in life, and the number one reason was that, the dying wished they had the courage to live the life they really wanted, and not the life that people wanted them to live. That was a very powerful message, but it only re-affirmed my approach to life, because that was how I have been living to this day.
One of the things about asian parents is that, whenever they get together, they are always bragging about or comparing their children's success. Asian parents love to say, my child is a doctor, or an engineer, or a lawyer, and so on and so on. And whenever I hear about these things, I just quietly think to myself, awesome, but are you kids happy? Are they truly happy that they became something that they thought society would approve of, and that they did it because, you, as a parent, had placed such high standards upon them? You may be proud, but are they happy?
It is a really terrible feeling when you visit Vietnam and you mom tells you that you're 34-years-old and you haven't amounted to much. Then your dad recently visited you from Orlando, Florida, and tells you the same exact thing. I mean, I believe I have accomplished many great things up to this point in my life, I just haven't followed through with aforementioned achievements to be considered successful.
Growing up, somewhere along the lines in high school, the idea of becoming a pharmacist started to take root and it kept on sprouting up until my early college years. Truth be told, all I really wanted to do growing up was to become a ninja, and live my life in the shadows, kind of like Batman in Batman Begins. But I had the foresight to do my research at the time and it turns out that the unemployment rate of ninja'ing was very high, as well as the burn-out rate and turn-over rate (due to death by the sword), so I knew then I could not make a comfortable living being a ninja, as cool as it may be to wear those really weird socks and high heels that goes clickity clack.
So after getting accepted into the University of Central Florida (UCF), I decided I wanted to major in biology in hopes of one day realizing my goal of becoming a pharmacist. It was all good and gravy just taking the general courses required, until I stumbled upon Chemistry 1 and 2, and calculus. Those courses were the camel that broke the straw's back. I had never been proficient at math, and I actually hate it very much. I believe it literally took me five attempts to pass college-level Calculus and the formulas involved for Chemistry just drove me nuts. I did not enjoy taking those classes, and I knew I did not want to continue on my projected trajectory any longer. Then I switched my major to business, began to hate college and dropped out :), like a bOss.
So then there came a point when I told myself, I really needed to do something with myself, because I could not very well work as a food server for the rest of my life, and, so, I started doing research on the military. Initially, I was looking towards getting into the Navy, but a girl from the restaurant I was working with suggested I look into the Air Force, and so I did. I did my research, and the benefits and compensation seemed unbeatable, and so I submitted my application to enlist and worked with a recruiter. At the time, being a college drop-out, I wanted to secure myself a career within the Air Force that would give me the skills after four to six years and get a job as a civilian that would make me over $100,000 a year, and I finally decided to enlist as an Air Traffic Controller (no, we're not the people on the ground with the red wands telling you how to taxi your aircraft, those are maintainers, Air Traffic Controllers communicate directly with pilots through radio to issue all sorts of clearances).
Somewhere along the lines, I went to Tampa, Florida, to swear in and to get in-processed into the Air Force. I took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test and scored a 97 out of a possible 99 points. I am really not sure how I managed that, really, because there was a simple algebra question that I didn't not know how to answer, and it was asking for the mid-point on an X/Y plot. So I was like, why don't I just try to count back from all the squares on a graph paper, and somehow, I got the question right. I told my recruiter of my test result and he responded, "John, you have scored high enough to pick whichever enlisted career you wanted from the Air Force, so Air Traffic Control it was.
Long story short, in regards to Air Traffic Control (ATC), I was completely miserable, and there were many nights that I cried and many nights and days dreading walking into the tower to pick up position to talk to pilots. I called my dad once in Technical Training school crying to him how difficult and trying it was in training for ATC. He simply said, stop crying, don't let anyone see you cry - well, it is my party and i will cry if i want to. So I toughed it out, made it through technical school, got rated as an Air Traffic Controller at my first base and went into one of the darkest periods of my life. I was so miserable as an air traffic controller. And one day, while trembling with fear in position and not having the courage to issue any further commands to pilots, I told myself I had had enough, because no matter how substantial the pay for air traffic control was, being miserable for the rest of my life was not worth it, so I was done with ATC. That's when I decided it was time to get back into college and obtain a college degree.
So when I separated from the AF, I got myself a government job working for the Veteran Affairs Administration. I was very happy to come on board with the federal government, and I thought my life was set, but the struggle was very real, and the politics did not sit well with me, so I terminated my employment with them to pursue my independence.
So, as you can see, I have accomplished very much during my life, but I have just not stuck around long enough within my accomplishments to make any headway, and I am frustrated that my parents think I haven't amounted to anything. They don't know that each and every day, all I do is grind, and as of current, I am just trying to build a future for myself, according to my rules. And, yes, starting a business is difficult, and making it profitable will prove almost impossible, but I know I don't want it any other way.
One of my favorite quotes are, "if you want to live life by your own terms, you have to be willing to crash and burn."
This past month has been really trying. I believe I am doing everything I need to in order to grow my business, but it always seem like it is not enough. There are plenty of times where I felt like, if I just closed my eyes and laid down on the floor and spread my arms and legs like a snow angel, I would levitate and float through life in a dark and serene place forever. I would float in slow-motion, pinging off and bouncing off any objects that I come into contact with. But then I realize that I cannot live my life that way, and that I needed to refocus with laser-like precision.
To make things more difficult, my executive secretary and I have been fighting for most of last month. I believe she is emotional regarding our long-distance employer-employee agreement, and my not being there physically for her has really affected her. Me, on the other hand, I have been in a long-distance relationship before, so I kind of know how to handle it, and all I can do is be patient with my secretary. We have been able to work things out, and we have decided to keep on moving forward with our business agreement. And I love her :).
The Farmers market season is coming to a close, and I and quite beside myself. I am not really sure where to go from here. I have, however, applied to Whole Foods, PCC Natural Markets, and Ken's Market in order for me to get into the business of wholesaling. I believe wholesaling is the next logical step in order for me to grow and expand John's Kimchi.
Fingers are crossed, and here's hoping for the best.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
Not a lot of people know this, or I really do not recall ever telling anybody, but when I started John's Kimchi, I really wanted to name it "Whispering Kimchi" :).
-The Kimchi Whisperer-