Parents' Unexpected Visit and Pho

So about three weeks back, my pops telephoned me and told me that both he and my mom, and six other members from my extended family were going to come visit Washington and Canada from Orlando, Florida. He told me that they would be spending about three to four days in Canada first, and then the remainder of their week tour back in Washington. 

I could tell from the tone of his voice that he was hoping I could join them, because I have not seen them both since my last visit in July, 2015. It was very strained and longing, but I had to regrettably inform him that I had to work and that I have to be at the markets on the weekends. And he kind of resigned himself to that. 

Then he calls me back about a week later and tells me they are arriving on September 3, 2016, and if I could take the time off to come meet them at the airport. And being poOr, and being extremely busy, and just finding out about their coming visit, I agreed to take a day off from the market. I knew that meant a lot to both he and my mom, and I am excited to be there at the airport tomorrow when they arrive. 

One of the things I hate most in life is going out to eat and spending money at restaurants. Personally, I never thought it was worth it because whatever it is that I wanted to eat, I could cook better myself, unless it was dim sum, Popeyes chicken, and Chick Fila - I'll spend money all day long at those establishments. But, for the most part, I think eating out is such a waste of money and you never get what you pay for. So I told my dad that I wanted to cook the family Pho when they arrived first here in Seattle, and to show that I care :).

I'll be the first to admit that I am not a very good son. I have never been very family-oriented, and I value my independence, but I wanted to be a good son this time around, and thus why I took out the time from my busy schedule to prepare a grand meal for my family, and please enjoy the photos and the stories associated with: 

 so i was at the checkout counter yesterday at a restaurant wholesale establishment with just these two items. the point of sales girl asked, "so you're making pho (which kind of surprised me that she figured out i was making pho from just these two items)?" so i mentioned to her that my parents and family are coming to visit me on saturday and i will be cooking pho for a family of nine. she then skeptically asked me if i even knew how to make pho, so i simply replied, "i make the [very] best   :)    or at least i think i do, but if it tastes like the best pho i have ever eaten, that is all that matters   :)    when you go through life lying to yourself enough, you begin to believe those lies are truths

so i was at the checkout counter yesterday at a restaurant wholesale establishment with just these two items. the point of sales girl asked, "so you're making pho (which kind of surprised me that she figured out i was making pho from just these two items)?" so i mentioned to her that my parents and family are coming to visit me on saturday and i will be cooking pho for a family of nine. she then skeptically asked me if i even knew how to make pho, so i simply replied, "i make the [very] best :)

or at least i think i do, but if it tastes like the best pho i have ever eaten, that is all that matters :)

when you go through life lying to yourself enough, you begin to believe those lies are truths

 these are going into the oven and will be put on broil for about 30 minutes to bring out the wonderful aromas

these are going into the oven and will be put on broil for about 30 minutes to bring out the wonderful aromas

 Beef Oxtail, the star of the show

Beef Oxtail, the star of the show

 Chuck Roast, the other star of the show

Chuck Roast, the other star of the show

 Pure Pho broth and its associated fatty contents

Pure Pho broth and its associated fatty contents

 Enough Rice noodles to fee me for about a day 

Enough Rice noodles to fee me for about a day 

 And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the final product :) 

And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the final product :) 

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. 

-The Kimchi Whisperer- 

 

 

One Thing Leading To The Next

So throughout the time of being in business, I was never interested in becoming a wholesaler to PCC Natural Markets, Whole Foods, or Trader Joes. I had always thought that if I sought a venture down that path, I would lose a lot of control over my business. And the thought of losing some control over my product being housed on supermarket selves, hiring more staff to accommodate demands, and not quite sure how fast or big my business would grow absolutely terrified me, so I made many excuses as to why I didn't want to expand my business into those markets. But then, one thing just lead to the next. 

Getting accepted into Phinney Farmers market required me to start sourcing some of my ingredients locally, and having appropriate labels to go along with my kimchi, which in turn required me to source custom jars to meet that need. As I prepared for Phinney's market, I just thought to myself, well now that I source my ingredients locally, and having jars with FDA (food and drug administration) compliant labels, why not entertain the idea of getting into the aforementioned supermarkets? 

The main reason why I shied away from looking into getting into the supermarkets was the cost of custom jars - or so I thought. Starting out, I was purchasing Ball Jars for under one dollar a jar. It was convenient to go to Target and pick up the amount of jars required for the week. The drawback was that the Ball Jars have their own engravings with their brand name and created grooves and uneven surfaces to properly label jars. So I started doing my research on where I could procure custom jars with smooth surfaces in order for me to label correctly. Well, the end result lead me to Uline, and for 12 jars that I was currently paying at the time for under $10, the cost of buying custom jars from Uline amounted to about $40 to include delivery fees. There was no way that was going to work, because I would be paying 4x as much to have custom jars, and I told myself that my operation was not big enough to sustain those prices. 

I am not at all disparaging Uline, because I source my craft paper bags for customers to have from them. And I love the product! The bag imparts upon my product a very homemade, crafty appeal to it. But I could not very well pay $4 a jar and charge the same price I was going to charge and wholesale to supermarkets at the same time. It didn't make any economical sense. 

So the week prior to my start date at Phinney Farmers market, I was invited by the market manager there to come take a look at the place and to get myself oriented and what to expect. I started to look around, and I came upon a honey vendor that had just the jars I was looking for, so I approached her and asked her if she would entertain a business enquiry because I would be a vendor at the market the following week. She happily obliged, and I asked her where she got her jars from. She responded that she gets them from a local company in Seattle. I asked her about how much she spent per jar, and she informs me about $1 per jar. I was pretty taken aback by the revelation, and I was very excited by the news. There it was, I could finally find jars I could label correctly that costed just a tad more than what I was paying for my Ball Jars. 

The reason I am now looking into wholesaling to PCC, Whole Foods and Trader Joes is due to necessity, and not due to a natural progression of growing my business. Ideally, I would like to participate in two year-round Farmers market, which would allow me to reach critical mass where I do not have to worry about not being able to meet expenses and getting evicted from my apartment. There are a lot of challenges ahead of me in order to get into these year-round markets, and, with the Farmers market season closing to and end, I only have one Sunday market that I am a vendor at, and, it by itself cannot sustain my business. I thought about toughing it out until the next season, and picking up a part-time job to sustain myself, but that would only leave my business in hibernation, and I am trying to grow. Thus, I believe wholesaling is the next logical step, as one of my customers pointed out to me. 

I would absolutely love to be in two year-round Farmers market, because I can still produce enough by myself to meet demands at those markets. The supermarkets would force me out of my comfort zone too fast and too soon, but it seems that is the viable option at this point. And this is the reason I am looking at the option of wholesaling. 

My apologies for the disjointed paragraphs. One of my professors suggested that I use transitions in my paragraphs, but I do not even know what those are. I like to have every one of my paragraphs to be its own entity. 

Thank you for understanding! 

-The Kimchi Whisperer- 

First Outing at Phinney Farmers Market

Today was my first day participating as a vendor at Phinney Farmers market. It was a lot of fun and I had a wonderful time. It also happened to reach about 90 degrees, and that was not something I initially signed up for. See, I moved here to Seattle because I like rain, overcast sky, cold weather, and Edward Cullen from Twilight. Luckily for me, I happened to be stationed in the most shaded area possible :). 

Leading up to this whole event, I was super nervous and stressed out because there were a lot of new things I was introducing to the market. I decided it was time to increase the prices on my kimchi offerings because I felt that they were underpriced before, but that I decided to bring my kimchi to the market, initially, at a discounted price point because I was just starting out and I wanted people to try my kimchi, all-the-while being affordable for consumers to test my product. It was frustrating to see what other vendors were able to charge for their respective products, because I would always think back to how much work goes into crafting my artisan kimchi, and that I was undercutting myself. I have also started sourcing locally, and the cost of goods have increased, and I wanted to position myself in concert with a few of my kimchi competitors from Whole Foods and the like. In addition, I have found a new source for jars with smooth surfaces that enables me to label my kimchi correctly, and I was not sure how the new market audience would respond. I addressed my concerns with my executive secretary, and she tells me to not fret, and that I would do fine. Fortunately, my new offering was well received, and consumers were willing to pay for, what I finally believe is, what my kimchi should be priced at. 

There were a few customer interactions I had today that really opened up my eyes: 

I had a lady come up to me today and purchased a 32oz jar of kimchi from me. She tells me the kimchi is great, and I forgot what got the conversation going, but I was telling her about my plans of expanding into supermarkets such as Whole Foods, PCC and Trader Joes (more on this in a later post). I mentioned to her that I went to a Whole Foods recently to see if there was anyone I could speak to in regards to possibly getting my kimchi on their shelves. As I was there, I wanted to go see what kind of kimchi they were carrying, and they were carrying Firefly and Brit's Pickle kimchi. I am only keenly aware of them because I spoke to one of the managers from the Ballard Farmers market in regards to application in attempts to get into that market for 2017. She informs me that they already have two kimchi vendors at the Ballard market, and she wasn't sure if they could accommodate another kimchi vendor for 2017. At that point, my heart sank and I was very saddened, because I needed to get into some year-round Farmers markets to survive. But she did tell me she put in a good word for me, and that I should try, anyways. So I told the lady that just purchased kimchi from me that I am sure Firefly and Brit's make great kimchi, but I do not believe we are competing with the same product offering. I told her that I went to Brit's page and did some research on their kimchi, and that their offering uses very different ingredients, such as oranges and are gluten free and vegan. I also told her I have never heard of Firefly. Then she tells me that she's had Firefly's kimchi, and mine tasted wonderful. She also said that she wouldn't purchase Brit's kimchi or Firefly's kimchi to eat on a consistent basis, but she would be able to do so with my kimchi, because it is the traditional style kimchi. That made me smile, and I am sufficiently armed for my future strategic goals.

I also had another customer whom I believe is Korean. She sampled my kimchi and she decided to purchase some. I loved her reaction because I could tell she was very skeptical of my product coming in - most Koreans are, especially kimchi made from someone who is not Korean :). She then proceeds to tell me that she is very picky about her kimchi, and maybe that was because her mom was such a great cook. But she did buy from me, and I am glad to have the approval of some of the hardest Korean critics when it comes to kimchi. 

All in all, I really did love being at the Phinney market. The venue is smaller than what I am used to, but all the vendors are lined up to create a loop, and it gives you a sense of community, like you're intimately connected to the vendors next to you. I loved how there was live music playing in the background that harkens back to the medieval ages. I was also positioned right next to the playground where parents could bring their children to have fun and enjoy the market. And, directly behind me, there was a dedicated space where people could sit down to eat and enjoy each other's company. I felt a warmth when I was there. I think it is a market that my executive secretary would really enjoy being at the next time she visits and the Farmers market is in season. 

Though I signed up late for the season, and Phinney will be concluding at the end of September, I hope to do well until then, and I excited look forward to the next season. 

-The Kimchi Whisperer- 

Intermediate Step

When kimchi paste meets supporting vegetables. It is a super messy process, but it is necessary.

Crafting kimchi is a very messy business, unless you're in the business of crafting kimchi. 

- The Kimchi Whisperer- 

Custom Jars

Hello Everyone: 

I am absolutely excited to introduce to you all my new custom 16oz and 32oz jars (only the 32oz jar is represented)! Everything is FDA compliant, and you may see my new jars at South Lake Union Saturday Market, Fremont Sunday Market, and Phinney Farmers Market. 

I will also be looking to getting a custom label design at a future date using my current business logo and nutrition facts information. 

Eventually, and hopefully soon, you may start seeing my kimchi on the shelves of Whole Foods, PCC, Trader Joes and the like - I will post a more in-depth blog about the aforementioned at a later date. 

The establishment that I am currently procuring the bulk of my produce is comprised of Asian staff, and they asked me what kind of business I conduct, so I told them my business is crafting kimchi. They have requested samples since last week, but I didn't have any produced yet, at the time, that was adequately fermented for them to sample. But, I will be bringing this very jar tomorrow for them to taste when I go back for more Napa cabbage :). 

Please tell me what you think :)! 

-The Kimchi Whisperer-

Air Force - Air Traffic Control Technical School

I was just telling my secretary how skinny I was after leaving basic military training. They only worked us eighteen hours a day, and fed us three meals where we literally had two minutes per meal to scarf down as much food as possible. Sometimes, it was "operation lick a biscuit," because that's all you had time to do, lick your biscuit and get up and get going :). 

The above photos were taken during my Air Traffic Control training days in Mississippi, I think. 

-The Kimchi Whisperer- 

Phinney Farmers Market

I have recently completed the application process in order to become a processor vendor at the Phinney's Farmers market. The application process itself was very extensive, and at times, very trying, but I believe I have finally gotten into my very first Farmers market, and my customers may purchase kimchi from me every Friday evening until the end of September there. I am absolutely excited about this new achievement. 

There are certain Farmers markets that are year-round that I am very interested in, and I hope to be able to participate as a vendor when 2017 rolls around. As is best practice, market organizers will usually start you out at smaller markets, and, eventually, and hopefully, you build a good enough working relationship with them for them to allow you to vend at their bigger markets. 

One of my biggest concerns regarding participation at Farmers markets is the need to source locally. I was under the false impression that sourcing locally would drive up the price on produce and the cost of goods exponentially that it would be cost-prohibitive to do business at Farmers markets. Fortunately, that is not the case. I was able to source locally Napa Cabbage, Korean radishes, and yellow onions that is much cheaper than what I was paying for at the other supermarkets that I used source my produce from. It was a very nice revelation, and it gives me hope for the future. 

At this juncture of my business, I am merely striving to reach critical mass. It has proven difficult thus far and I have completely run out of working capital. There is much more I would love to do for the business to expand and grow, but the only thing I can do at this point is to remain solvent. To build on top of the challenge, seasonal markets are ending soon, and I will only be able to vend at the Fremont Sunday market until applications are accepted for the year of 2017. 

I know I have a unique product offering that consumers are willing to pay for, but, right now, I am limited by the amount of markets I vend at to generate sales. I have had many friends and customers joked about going on "Shark Tank," but I created this business from the ground up, and I am not willing to give up any control of my business. I like to be  the commander of this ship, and I like to make all the executive decisions without having to answer to any outside investors. It has also been suggested I try to get my kimchi into Whole Foods and the like, as well as asian supermarkets and restaurants. I have not entertained that idea until recently, because signing a contract with Whole Foods would limit the flexibility I have on pricing in regards to Farmers markets. And the margin would be lower and I would lose a lot of control over my products. 

Eventually, I would like to look into wholesaling, but that would be another type of beast to tackle when the time is right. At this point, I just want to grow organically, and to be in control as much as possible. My primary objective right now is to get into Ballard year-round Sunday market, University District year-round Saturday market, West Seattle year-round Sunday market, and Capitol Hill year-round Sunday market. If I am able to vend year-round one Saturday and one Sunday out of the week, I would achieve critical mass easily. But that opportunity will not present itself until the start of the 2017 season. 

As of current, I have to find a way to survive until 2017 comes around. I wholeheartedly believe that 2017 will be a year for John's Kimchi's expansion. But for now, I have to deal with an immense amount of stress and frustrations. 

For the last month, I realized that I have lost my way. I created this business with much enthusiasm, but the more I conduct this business, the more defeated I felt. Within the last month, I was juggling a part-time job, my graduate capstone class that literally kicked my butt, and running my business. I felt so overwhelmed and I was not able to keep up with my school work. Luckily, I was able to reach out to my professor and explained to him how my business was requiring the bulk of my time and attention in order to pay the bills that I have let my course work fall by the wayside. I asked for extensions on my course work submissions, and he understood and allowed me to turn in my work late. I was able to turn in all of my work by the end of the session and I received an A in the course. But that class took a huge toll on me. I had to neglect my business and quit my part time job just to pass. I was completely spent by the time the class ended, which also happened to be the time when my out-of-state secretary was scheduled to visit. I took the nine days of her visit to just do nothing at all. My business fell to the side, but I knew I needed that time to recharge my mind and body and to regain my sanity. 

I just found out recently that my parents found out that I had quit my full-time employment with the federal government. It was not something I wanted them to be privy of, because I knew they wouldn't understand, especially my dad. He asked me why I quit my well-paying, secure government job for the business, and I didn't know how to answer. I knew he wouldn't understand and I decided not to explain. You see, in business, everyone will think you're crazy, especially when you put all your chickens in one basket to pursue your independence. When you struggle, people are going to tell themselves, his business idea was a failure, but they only clamor when you defy expectations and become successful. I am sure close people to Bill Gates thought he was crazy to drop out of college to do what he did, but, now, in retrospect, people respect and admire his genius. 

I have had many friends suggests many different strategies in regards to my business, and I listen attentively, and I consume every advice with a large helping of salt, but in the end, this is my business and I have to do what is right for it. Nobody understands my business as intimately as I do. People always have suggestions to give and a lot of times, those suggestions are really appreciated, but other times, the suggestions are counterproductive to the direction I want my business to grow into. But it is nice to speak to many different people to bounce off ideas and to pick up useful advice. 

So my secretary has recently departed to go back to her home, and I have finally gotten back on the grind. This past week has been crazy busy and its hard to find time to breathe, but I am getting back into the groove of things. Running a business is very stressful and frustrating, but there is nothing in me that wants to return to a bureaucratic nine-to-five job. I am back on this grind, and I will do whatever it takes to make John's Kimchi successful. But it will require baby steps and incremental milestones. I want my business to grow organically, and I want to be in control each and every step of the way - that is the only way. 

Thank you! 

-The Kimchi Whisperer- 

Reflections

So my secretary just left on a plane back to Georgia about four hours ago. I told her it was going to be weird without her around the apartment and it certainly has been - the dishes have already started to pile up in the sink, the bed is not made, and Kimchi certainly doesn't walk herself to go potty.

As I was lying in bed attempting to take a nap, I just couldn't help the feeling of how lonely it is in this apartment all by myself, except, now, I have Kimchi to keep me company. I thought back to almost three years ago, with nothing lined up here in Seattle, when I packed everything I owned into my car and drove myself here all the way from Orlando, FL.

I had been wanting to move to Seattle after visiting from Spokane, Washington, while I was still in the Air Force. After separating from the Air Force, I moved back in with my parents in Orlando, FL, during which time I was trying to get back on my feet and attempting to procure a job. I have always hated the heat and tried to avoid it at all cost growing up, but, growing up in Florida, there was no avoiding that miserable heat. After a year of struggle and unemployment, and becoming weary of the misery, I decided to follow my heart to set down roots in Seattle.

At the time, it had already been a year since I was out of the military with a college degree under my belt, and I still could not obtain a job for the life of me. I had applied to over fifty government jobs, yet, nobody would hire me. I became very embittered and felt like the world lied to me when advertisements on television and the internet were touting we support and hire our veterans. Regardless, I knew I was absolutely certain that I wanted to work for the government no matter what, and I was not going to stop until I became a federal employee.

All I knew up to that point in life was, if you really wanted to do something in life, you just muster up the courage to do it, and you don't make any excuses, no matter how insurmountable the task or goal may appear.

But, in any case, I arrived here in Seattle, volunteered at the Veterans Affair Hospital for four months before actually getting a job with them. I thought my life was set until retirement, until I realized the games you have to play if you wanted to advance as a federal employee - and let me assure you, it is not through hard work and sheer talent, because I possess that in spades. I realized that the government system only wants to keep its employees down, without offering much opportunities for advancement - and, at this juncture, I am only speaking from my personal experience.

I knew I wasn't going to achieve my life goal of having a comfortable income and living a simple life that I enjoyed working for the government, because it would have very well taken me 30 years of selling my soul to get to my place of serenity and contentment. That was way too long, and I was tired of the bureaucracy. I knew there was another way to achieving some of my life goals, and, thus, I founded John's Kimchi.

I am much happier now that I am able to employ my talents and passion to something I truly believe in, and that is my kimchi business. But let me tell you, there have also been an enormous amount of stress, anxiety and frustrations to round out the whole experience of being your own boss, but I wouldn't have it any other way, because, now, I make all the executive decisions.

If you have a dream or a goal, cease and desist with the paralysis by analysis and just jump into the deep end - things will work itself out with careful planning along the way. Just know it will take everything you have got, and it will require even more than you're able to give, but if you don't give in, and you commit, unwaveringly, you can achieve your own piece of joy and serenity.

There is still much to for me to learn about kimchi and being a business owner in general, but I am having the time of my life :). It truly is remarkable to think that I produce a product that the public is actually willing to pay for, and that  piece of knowledge is what propels me forward to continue down the road of entrepreneurship.

-The Kimchi Whisperer-

Buffalo Hot Wings

My secretary wanted me to make her some wings, so I obliged. The wings will be something to look forward to when John's Kimchi obtains a physical storefront/restaurant to serve food in addition. 

Meet "Kimchi" the Yorkshire Terrier

Hello Everyone: 

About four months ago, my secretary and I decided to visit this Yorkie breeder on the western peninsula of Washington. The reason being, her puppies are quickly accounted for as soon as a new litter of pups are announced, so I wanted to get a sure buy-in in order to secure the next dog. 

Initially, I was going to get a chocolate male Yorkie and name him "Bandit." Bandit was my last male Yorkie that passed away about this same time last year. Unfortunately, Bandit v. 2.0 turned out to have a serious heart murmur, and he was no longer for sale. This left me very disappointed and impatient.

After finding out Bandit had a heart murmur, I told the breeder I wanted another male from her future litter as long she is healthy, and she mentioned that another one of her females were having a litter in the upcoming few weeks. She told me I had first pick on the next male pup the comes along. as it turns out, the next litter was comprised of all three females. 

At this point, I have already waited two months, and i would have to wait another two and a half months once a male is born to bring him home. so then I entertained the idea of a female Yorkie, and the breeder proceeded to inform me that if it makes me feel any better, that female dogs bond closer with their male owners than male dogs.

long story short, i waited another ten weeks in order to bring "Kimchi" home. originally, i was going to name her Pineapple, but my secretary really insisted on "Kimchi," and the name stuck. Please say hello to Kimchi, my twelve and a half week old female Yorkie. I have included a couple photos and a couple of videos of her. Please excuse my commentary in one of the videos.

P.S. my dog doesn't bond that closely to me. I've had her for about two weeks when my secretary  decided to come visit me, and in about two days, kimchi loves her more than she loves me. maybe its because I'm stern with Kimchi, and my secretary spoils her with affection.

 Kimchi photo bombing my finished kimchi product

Kimchi photo bombing my finished kimchi product

Kimchi Fried Rice

It is official, John's Kimchi will be offering kimchi fried rice at participating markets. 

Please see sample photo of what I cooked for my secretary and I this morning. 

Thank you! 

-The Kimchi Whisperer- 

First Market

Hello Everyone: 

It has been a while since I have updated my blog because I have been super busy, but I have finally carved out a bit of time tonight to do so. 

I grossed a total of $332 on my first outing, which is pretty good, though not as much as I had hoped, but a five-hour window is not a lot of time to work with.

Yesterday, I literally grinded for seventeen hours, up until 2:00am my time, and I needed to be up at 6:00am, but I knew I needed some sleep, because it was going to be an unprecedented day for me. Even still, I was not caught up to where I needed to be in preparation for the market.

Let me tell you, I haven't had a day off in over a month. When I am done spending time in the kitchen working on making kimchi, I go home and there is more strategic work to accomplish. There always seems to be something to do with my business, and its never-ending. I am not really complaining, just sharing what a life of a bOss is really like, and because I signed up for this. 

Okay, so I showed up at the market to setup a lot later than I wanted to - again, due to a lack of time. And I showed up like a complete lost puppy. I didn't even know how to set up my canopy, and I bought new and left it in the bag because I didn't want to mess with that hot mess, and because I just merely did not have the time. Luckily for me, the neighbor to my left was a lady with a lot of experience with these types of markets.

So as I was struggling to figure out how to set up my canopy, and stressing out because I was running out of time, she comes over and helps me set it up. Then the guy to my right shows up and lends a helping hand. And I am thinking to myself, is there hope for humanity? I was very grateful to say the least. 

So then things get under way, and its hitting about 10:30, and still no sales. And I'm like, great! Then a few people start to trickle in, and I sell a few jars by 12:00pm, and I'm thinking, at this rate, I won't even be able to pay my market fee. so I kind of sat there and thought to myself, maybe this whole stupid idea wasn't going to work, anyways. Maybe all that time you spent in the kitchen, and an innumerable amount of time spent strategizing for your business was a waste of time? Are you stupid, John? Did you really think this would work? 

So i was pretty depressed. I had only made like $80 up until 12:30pm, already halfway through the market event. Then, the market started to pick up. I started having a lot more curious glances, so I would always ask, would you like to taste a sample? And as it turns out, if I had not entreated the people that passed by whom would have not tried my kimchi to begin with, I would have lost out on a lot of sales. Those that stop to try my kimchi, most ended up purchasing my product, which was like a 65% conversation rate, and I was having so much fun! 

Also, the guy to my right, his name is Anthony, and he's Vietnamese - he sells macaroons. His partner shows up a bit later, and she is a girl I used to work with at the Veterans Affair hospital. Such a small world. So we all started chatting, and I made some new friends.

Ohhhhhhh, and I was not going to accept credit card payments, even though I signed up for Square and all that good stuff. I just read so many horror stories that I just did not want to use them, even though I already paid $50 for their payment processor. So, one customer came up to me and just kind of stood there, and I was like, would you like to try a sample? And he was like, no, I just want to buy a jar. And he asked if I accepted credit, and I responded no - lost my first sale. The neighbor to my left, she likes to listen into my conversations and interactions, asked me if I had the Square credit card reader, and I responded, I do, actually, but I do not use them. And she insisted I use them. She mentioned that she had an extra card reader. So she talked me into using Square, and it accounted for 33% percent of my sales. 

So when I first arrived on scene, Ryan, the market manager, said to me, I featured your site on our website, so you could gain some increased exposure. And I kind of brushed it off. Then there came a point when there was this girl and her boyfriend/husband - I asked them if they wanted to try a sample, and they said yes, spicy. So I gave it to them, and they tasted it and talked between themselves, and the girl was like, it is good. And she decided to purchase a jar. Then the bag was out of the cat, and she was like, we saw your featured website, and I read your blog, and that is why we are here to try your kimchi. And I was thinking to myself, people read my blog? Awesome! 

So sales were just coming in, and let me tell you, I was having so much fun, and I abhor the heat. But there was something about the farmers market that was so attractive to me. 

So at about 2:30pm, about half an hour until closing, I noticed that my cooler bag was leaking, and I noticed it was leaking into my Ball jar box containers, so I decided to pick up a box and move it. And it was like everything in slow motion - all the people in the booth next to me were like, OHHHHH, NO!!!!! The next thing I knew, the bottom of the box gave out, and a few jars broke and kimchi splattered all over me. But the cool thing was, everyone was so kind and helpful. They helped me clean up, and they recounted what happened, and it was kind of funny.

At that point, my 10x10 feet space started smelling like kimchi, and my face and body was riddled in kimchi and you could smell kimchi from a mile a way. If there was ever a time and place that I ever wanted to eat myself, that was not the time! Anyways, I took it like a champ, and I kept on receiving customers. 

All in all, it was such a wonderful experience, and I wish I could do it more than once a week.

There was a lot more I wanted to talk about, but "i've been sipping so its moving kind of slow" 

-The Kimchi Whisperer-

John's Kimchi Is Looking To Expand

Hello Everyone: 

As I was sitting at home working on my business analytics homework involving linear optimization problems, I had becoming increasingly frustrated and confounded by the coursework, because I cannot perform math problems for the life of me. I have already mentioned to my friends on Facebook that I failed college calculus four times, and eventually passing it the fifth time around, which imparted unto me the teachings that either I was a very persistent individual, or I was just never cut out to be an astronaut. And as we all can see, I am clearly not working for NASA at this point, nor will I be at any point, as a matter of fact :). 

So as I started to lose focus, I allowed my mind to meander for a bit until it arrived at my thought conscience of my business. I think about my business often, and I am always looking forwards to ways in order to improve efficiency, reduce costs, drive sales, and expand, but all of that has not been very easy to accomplish considering I have very little market exposure at this point. 

In any case, I have had grand plans of expansion once my business gained traction, and I wanted to save and reinvest all the profits into building my very own storefront/restaurant - that, and to avoid having to pay taxes on income and dividends if I were to pay myself a salary :). What I had planned to do with the expansion was to add hot meals to my product lines, some of which would really complement my kimchi. I did not believe that was feasible until I had my own restaurant, and for a place for people to come in and order and take out or dine in. Then I started to thinking, there are a lot of people I am working alongside in the commercial kitchen that are preparing food and selling it to the market. Why couldn't I do it?! 

So, yet again, I am revamping my business plan. I want to initially introduce three or four really select food products that I have received positive reviews on, and those are: Jackie's Change Your Life Fried Rice (this was a recipe I created on my own, and my friends always want me to make it for them), Pho, Ribs, and Buffalo Chicken Wings. As you can see, there are no rhyme or reason to these food combinations, and I am not attempting to stick to any cultural food dishes, nor will I cop out and call this a fusion restaurant. These are just some foods that I find absolutely delicious, and I want to bring the joy to the world :). Please see photos embedded below: 

At this point, I am not really sure how I will work out the logistics of bringing these food products to market or everything I needed in preparation in doing so. I may just designate Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings for pick-ups from the commissary or something. Everything is still in the works, but at least I get to move forward with my business, instead of waiting on the world to change. 

-The Kimchi Whisperer- 

 

 

 

Pivoting Points

I am happy to announce that I have just secured myself part-time employment in order to assist in sustaining my business until it is able to sustain itself :). 

I have moved into my apartment for close to four weeks now, and it has been a dream, as I had envisioned it, but it doesn't feel like reality. It doesn't feel like it is real because I feel like I am on borrowed time and money, and rent coming due very much reminds me of why. 

I have been wrought with doubt and insecurities this past month in regards to my fledgling business. Sales have pretty much stalled, and I am kept awoken at night questioning myself why. And the terrible reflections on whether it was the right thing to do to terminate my full-time employment, and moving into a place of my own that I am not able to afford at this time.

For the past few weeks, I did not get out of bed, and I tried to sleep the days away, because I did not want to deal with reality and my presumed failure as an entrepreneur. There were many times during conversations with myself, where I told myself I was too zealot to have done the things I have done in regards to bringing my business to life. 

It has been very frustrating to know that sales have been stagnant, and I do not know why. I had envisioned my business, initially, to be an online operation, with grand ideas of growth and expansion, but as I am reminded, that is not the case. It doesn't help matters that my primary logistics entity, United States Postal Service, have lost many of my orders, and other orders arriving at my customers' doors damaged - I am not here to slander or disparage USPS, I am just merely stating the facts and my experience. And there is really no recourse with them, because if and when you attempt to get into contact with customer service, you will have the most incredible task of trying to speak to a live representative. And when you do, you come back full-circle, left with your problems for you to deal with, because, apparently, its not USPS's fault. 

So moving on, I had to rethink my business plan and figure out ways to make it profitable. And I realized that concentrating on making it an online business was not the right first step. The problem with shipping my kimchi out within the United States is simple, the shipping price alone. For example, my 16oz jar of kimchi retails @ $8.00, but shipping it out costs $7.00, which brings the total to $15.00 when you could have bought the jar locally for only $8.00 - plus the fact that USPS loses my shipments and destroys my jars in transit. The reason why I concentrated my efforts to online operations was because I believed, at the time, that I would be able to reach a wider market, as opposed to marketing it locally. 

Then, I have come to the realization that I need to participate in the local farmers markets in my area in order to bring my business to life. It makes more sense for someone to purchase a jar or two, and not have to pay for shipping. That, I believe, is a much more attractive proposition. But the problem I am encountering now is, all the permits required and applications and registrations. I will have to tackle that beast sooner than later, but I believe I can bring awareness to John's Kimchi that way. And eventually, customers who appreciates my kimchi could very well circle back to my website, and order from there and just pick it up locally :). That is my plan. 

All the while, I have been bleeding money, and it is a very unpleasant feeling. I had hoped that my business would hit the ground running, but, instead, it hit the ground, suffered some injuries, and wobbled in circles. I could not keep bleeding money, and sustain myself and my business, and I was worried I was going to be homeless soon. Such a terrible prospect, considering I just moved into my own place and it has been what I have worked so hard on and so hard for, for the past two and a half years. 

Initially, I did not want to get a part-time job, but that was the contingency plan when I made the decision to terminate my full-time employment, but I very much loved that idea of being my own boss that I cringed at the fact of having go work for someone else again. But, reality knocks on my door, and I realized I have to work a part-time job until I become profitable. At the very least, I will be able to almost cover my new rent increase with my new job. 

The job itself is very ideal. I was not sure what kind of part-time employment I wanted, and I was thinking of trying to find a serving position, but I dreaded that prospect - in my earlier adult years, I was a server, and I did not enjoy it very much. But then, a friend of mine here in Seattle asked me if I was still looking for part-time employment, and I responded yes. So he arranged the terms with his new business partner, and I will be working as a delivery person Monday-Friday, from round 9:30am-12:30pm, which works out great. I still have the rest of the day to work on my business and whatever else life calls. I am very happy to have secured this employment, because it is very good pay for a part-time position. 

Well, this post has dragged on long enough, so until next time. 

Thank you for participating! 

-The Kimchi Whisperer- 

Please, Welcome To My New Apartment

Hello Everyone: 

So I have recently moved into my new place, a one bedroom apartment. It has been a dream of mine to live on my own ever since I stepped foot into Seattle two and a half years ago, and my dream has been realized. I have worked very hard on putting it all together, and I have worked really hard for it. 

I love it because now I have much more space to work from home :). 

Please join me on my tour of my new apartment! 

Part One: 

 

Part Two: 

 

Thank you! 

-The Kimchi Whisperer-