It is a bit crazy for me to look back upon when I first moved back home to Orlando when I was out of business for a whole year and I was very depressed and frustrated with my situation, and I wanted to prove so badly to myself and everybody that was concerned that I could make my business work here in Florida.
It wasn’t too long ago that I finally got into my first profitable farmers market at the beginning of November last year, just a couple of months ago. I have since then gotten into their new Hamlin market on Sundays a short while afterwards. And things have been moving along quite well, slowly but surely.
Today, I received an email from another market that I had applied to a few months back that is a skip and a hop away from where I currently live, and it is on Monday named Audubon Park Community Market. So, that now brings the total number of markets that I will be vending at to three, which is about the most I want to handle on my own, comfortably.
The Audubon Park Community Market is located near the intersection of Colonial and Mills/1792, close to all the Asian markets and restaurants. So for those of you whom may have been interested in purchasing kimchi from me, but I have not been in a market close by, this will be your chance to stop by and grab some rotten vegetables, or just stop by and say hello.
Life sure is funny. When you’re desperately looking and fighting for something, it never happens. When you’re already well on your way and when you’re not paying attention, everything starts to come together so very quickly.
I have also decided that I will offer a few food products at the markets as well in efforts to grow my company. I believe I want to offer four products, which are: fried rice, bbq spareribs, chicken curry, and beef stew. The food will be prepackaged and frozen, so consumers could purchase them and prepare them at home at their convenience by reheating the food.
The reason why I decided to go with prepackaged foods as opposed to hot foods at the market is because it would take a tremendous amount of work on my part to attempt to prepare all the foods a day or two in advance to anticipate demands for the markets. In addition, I would have to haul around a bunch of additional gear and equipment to provide hot foods at the market, and that is a world of pain that I did not want to be a part of. Also, there is the matter leftover foods from the market that would go to waste each week, and that’s not really good business in general.
So, pre-packaged food solves all of those problems. I could spend a few days out of the week or month and just prepare everything in bulk and then freeze it, and then all I have to bring with me in addition is a big ice chest to hold all of my frozen packages. Absolutely no waste is involved, and anything I do not sell could be used for the next market.
This is all, however, contingent on my food idea getting approved at the markets that I will be vending at, and that would be a different application process from just my kimchi product itself. But, I have already talked to the team at the Hamlin market, and they said that would not be a problem at all and all I needed to do is resubmit an application indicating the new products that I wanted to add and it would be approved.
So, for those of you whom may have been interested in trying some of my cooking, here is your chance to do so.
As I have mentioned, I am only comfortable with running three markets a week on my own, and that is Saturday through Monday, and the remaining days I will use to produce kimchi and food. With that said, there are two more markets that I would like to eventually become a vendor at and that is the Winter Park market as well as the Lake Eola market to round out my whole farmers market business before transitioning to my restaurant one day.
This will require me to start hiring a few additional team members to assist me in producing kimchi and foods as well as for someone to man the two aforementioned markets on Saturday and Sunday. I would also have to purchase another work vehicle like the one I have now that could carry around all of the equipment for the other markets.
All in all, I am in a much better place now than I was just a few months ago, and things are moving so fast that I am afraid to blink and miss out on all the fun and excitement.
-the kimchi whisperer-
So I allocated some time out today to produce my second most favorite Vietnamese dish, and probably my second favorite dish of all time next to Pho (beef noodle soup).
This will be a dish that I will be incorporating into my eventual restaurant.
I will post a photo of the finished product when it is all said and done.
-the kimchi whisperer-
I understand that it has been a long time since I have posted on this blog because there was not much to post about ever since moving back to Orlando, FL. But, I am pleased to announce, after a little over a year since moving back to Orlando, I have finally gotten accepted into my first farmers market. The Winter Garden Farmers Market was gracious enough to allow me to become a vendor with their venue.
After conducting some further research into the market, I was pleased to discover that in 2016, the Winter Gardens Farmers Market was ranked number one in the nation out of 7,000+ markets. You can only imagine my excitement at this point, and I believe this is a very good start in growing my business here in Florida.
Now that things have caught some traction with my business, I will be more active with my blog, and hopefully I can entertain you all-the-while.
Thank you for you continued support and interest!
-The Kimchi Whisperer-
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-