An Unexpected Journey

Kimchi, my four-month pup, was getting a little shaggy and needed a grooming really bad, because every time she would try to scratch herself, she would have her nails tangled up in her matted hair, and she would always cry out and I would have to come running to release her from herself. So I told myself whenever I had time, I would attempt to groom her and then bathe her. That day was yesterday. 

Normally, I would take my dogs to the groomer to receive a professional grooming, but I am running on empty, and I just couldn't afford to take her to a groomer. So I made up my mind that I would groom her myself with my very own clippers that I cut my hair with. It came with a pretty long guard, so I thought it would be okay. I had no illusions as to having any idea of what I was doing, but I had to do what I had to do. 

So I started trying to groom her, and the clipper was not cooperating and I was just taking random patches of hair off her. On top of that, her hair was really tangled and matted, which made the clipping process so much more difficult. Along the way, I thought I had figured it out and I started trimming her hair down really close, and I had thought I did a really good job of cutting off most of her hair when I did an inspection of the intermediate grooming phase when I noticed that I had cut her skin up really good in many different places. When I saw the injuries, it didn't quite register to me yet, but when saw a really deep cut the size of a quarter on her underbelly, I lost it and started crying uncontrollably. I cried because, when I brought Kimchi home as a baby, I knew it was my duty to love and protect her, but here I am, the one person that has inflicted upon her the injuries, and I wasn't sure how I felt, and I panicked. So I placed her on the ground, and surprisingly, she was running around and functional as if nothing was wrong with her, and she was just staring at me intently, awaiting my attention, and she didn't appear to be upset with me. But I knew I had to get her some medical attention, and I did a quick search for any pet hospital that were still open at 7:30pm, and, luckily, I was able to locate a 24 hour emergency vet hospital just about five minutes away from me, so I wrapped her in a towel and got to driving there. 

When we arrived at the hospital, I approached the front desk and the receptionist asked me what the matter was, and I told her I was grooming her and I cut her, and I broke down and became very hysterical. The female technician took a quick survey of her and told me it isn't too bad, and that the laceration did not penetrate her stomach, which was good. So they took her in right away, and they had me fill out paperwork and asked me to wait to be consulted by the doctor. They placed me in this room, with one single dim light and the nurse walked out and closed the door. I know the dim lighting was supposed to be soothing, but I couldn't bear it, and after about ten minutes of anxiously waiting in that small room, I walked out and asked if I could just wait in the common waiting area and they said yes. 

Eventually, and what seemed like not soon enough, the doctor came to see me and we went back into that small room. He informed me that the injuries aren't very bad, and that it is not an uncommon injury and he sees it all the time when owners try to groom their dogs with long hair that are really tangled and matted very close to the skin. He informed me that the care she will receive will likely cost in the ballpark of $600-800 dollars, and I became emotional, and I told him I only have $500 in my bank account. He asked me if I could give them a part of the money that night and take care of the rest later, and I told him I could pay them $450, and so he went to work and I paid $400. It was nearing 8pm, and the doctor told me Kimchi would be ready to go home at 11pm, so he said I could go home and come pick her up in a few hours. One of the front desk lady asked me if I wanted to go say bye to her and took me to the back. She was in a cell, and she just looked at me with loving, compassionate eyes, and she was very forgiving and understanding, and she just wanted me to protect her. 

So I decided to go home and eat, because I had not eaten since noon that day and I was starving. I started to prepare my food but I just couldn't eat. So I decided I needed to just go back to the hospital and just wait for her there. I washed my face, dried my tears, and changed my clothes, because my sweater had gotten blood on it when I was holding Kimchi. And back to the emergency room it was. 

Eventually, after a two hour wait, and what seemed like forever, Kimchi was ready to go home with me. The doctor came out and told me they put on two stitches on her, and the total cost of care was going to be around $500. I was so relieved, and I believe they gave me a discount because I was so hysterical and crying when I brought her in, and that I am poOr. But I am very thankful and grateful for their kind gesture. 

The estimated vet bill 

The estimated vet bill 

That awkward moment when you decide to groom your dog yourself, and she comes home from the emergency room looking like this. 

That awkward moment when you decide to groom your dog yourself, and she comes home from the emergency room looking like this. 

I am very glad and happy to inform that Kimchi is doing so much better this morning. She was very traumatized last night and cried for most of the night until we both went to sleep together in my bed. This morning, she was eating and playing well, and she seemed to be 90% healthy. 

So in my attempt to save $50 on grooming cost, the final result ended up costing Kimchi much anxiety, pain, and being traumatized, and ended up costing me $500 at the end of the day. 

Moral of the story, always leave it to the professionals, because, sometimes, trying to do something yourself where you have no idea what you are doing will cost you much, much more in the long run. And in my case, it costed me 10x what I would have paid for if I would have just taken my baby to the groomers. 

-The Kimchi Whisperer- 

A Tumultuous Uprising

This past month has been filled with a lot of frustrations and emotions. Doubt has started to rear its ugly head, and it is an image and emotion that I do not really care so much for. I don't want to come off as arrogant, but I have always taken a lot of pride in my abilities and what I am able to accomplish when it comes to something I really believe in and enjoy doing - I don't like to live life with regrets, and I can assure you that I have made plenty of mistakes on this whirlwind ride we all call life, but I have never regretted any of my decisions. because of those bad decisions, they have forged me into something and someone I am really proud of. In life, I like to take chances and calculated risks, because I never want to look back one day when I am old and feeble and having to lament over things I should have accomplished in life. 

A fact about me, I really love to read self-improvement books. I believe every day I am able to get out of bed is a day that I will take full advantage of to improve as many aspects of being alive as possible. There was a particular book that I read that made me realize how important it is to live a life on your terms. A nurse whom oversees the care of the elderly and dying was asked what are the top five things her patients' regretted most in life, and the number one reason was that, the dying wished they had the courage to live the life they really wanted, and not the life that people wanted them to live. That was a very powerful message, but it only re-affirmed my approach to life, because that was how I have been living to this day. 

One of the things about asian parents is that, whenever they get together, they are always bragging about or comparing their children's success. Asian parents love to say, my child is a doctor, or an engineer, or a lawyer, and so on and so on. And whenever I hear about these things, I just quietly think to myself, awesome, but are you kids happy? Are they truly happy that they became something that they thought society would approve of, and that they did it because, you, as a parent, had placed such high standards upon them? You may be proud, but are they happy? 

It is a really terrible feeling when you visit Vietnam and you mom tells you that you're 34-years-old and you haven't amounted to much. Then your dad recently visited you from Orlando, Florida, and tells you the same exact thing. I mean, I believe I have accomplished many great things up to this point in my life, I just haven't followed through with aforementioned achievements to be considered successful. 

Growing up, somewhere along the lines in high school, the idea of becoming a pharmacist started to take root and it kept on sprouting up until my early college years. Truth be told, all I really wanted to do growing up was to become a ninja, and live my life in the shadows, kind of like Batman in Batman Begins. But I had the foresight to do my research at the time and it turns out that the unemployment rate of ninja'ing was very high, as well as the burn-out rate and turn-over rate (due to death by the sword), so I knew then I could not make a comfortable living being a ninja, as cool as it may be to wear those really weird socks and high heels that goes clickity clack. 

So after getting accepted into the University of Central Florida (UCF), I decided I wanted to major in biology in hopes of one day realizing my goal of becoming a pharmacist. It was all good and gravy just taking the general courses required, until I stumbled upon Chemistry 1 and 2, and calculus. Those courses were the camel that broke the straw's back. I had never been proficient at math, and I actually hate it very much. I believe it literally took me five attempts to pass college-level Calculus and the formulas involved for Chemistry just drove me nuts. I did not enjoy taking those classes, and I knew I did not want to continue on my projected trajectory any longer. Then I switched my major to business, began to hate college and dropped out :), like a bOss. 

So then there came a point when I told myself, I really needed to do something with myself, because I could not very well work as a food server for the rest of my life, and, so, I started doing research on the military. Initially, I was looking towards getting into the Navy, but a girl from the restaurant I was working with suggested I look into the Air Force, and so I did. I did my research, and the benefits and compensation seemed unbeatable, and so I submitted my application to enlist and worked with a recruiter. At the time, being a college drop-out, I wanted to secure myself a career within the Air Force that would give me the skills after four to six years and get a job as a civilian that would make me over $100,000 a year, and I finally decided to enlist as an Air Traffic Controller (no, we're not the people on the ground with the red wands telling you how to taxi your aircraft, those are maintainers, Air Traffic Controllers communicate directly with pilots through radio to issue all sorts of clearances). 

Somewhere along the lines, I went to Tampa, Florida, to swear in and to get in-processed into the Air Force. I took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test and scored a 97 out of a possible 99 points. I am really not sure how I managed that, really, because there was a simple algebra question that I didn't not know how to answer, and it was asking for the mid-point on an X/Y plot. So I was like, why don't I just try to count back from all the squares on a graph paper, and somehow, I got the question right. I told my recruiter of my test result and he responded, "John, you have scored high enough to pick whichever enlisted career you wanted from the Air Force, so Air Traffic Control it was. 

Long story short, in regards to Air Traffic Control (ATC), I was completely miserable, and there were many nights that I cried and many nights and days dreading walking into the tower to pick up position to talk to pilots. I called my dad once in Technical Training school crying to him how difficult and trying it was in training for ATC. He simply said, stop crying, don't let anyone see you cry - well, it is my party and i will cry if i want to. So I toughed it out, made it through technical school, got rated as an Air Traffic Controller at my first base and went into one of the darkest periods of my life. I was so miserable as an air traffic controller. And one day, while trembling with fear in position and not having the courage to issue any further commands to pilots, I told myself I had had enough, because no matter how substantial the pay for air traffic control was, being miserable for the rest of my life was not worth it, so I was done with ATC. That's when I decided it was time to get back into college and obtain a college degree. 

So when I separated from the AF, I got myself a government job working for the Veteran Affairs Administration. I was very happy to come on board with the federal government, and I thought my life was set, but the struggle was very real, and the politics did not sit well with me, so I terminated my employment with them to pursue my independence. 

So, as you can see, I have accomplished very much during my life, but I have just not stuck around long enough within my accomplishments to make any headway, and I am frustrated that my parents think I haven't amounted to anything. They don't know that each and every day, all I do is grind, and as of current, I am just trying to build a future for myself, according to my rules. And, yes, starting a business is difficult, and making it profitable will prove almost impossible, but I know I don't want it any other way. 

One of my favorite quotes are, "if you want to live life by your own terms, you have to be willing to crash and burn." 

This past month has been really trying. I believe I am doing everything I need to in order to grow my business, but it always seem like it is not enough. There are plenty of times where I felt like, if I just closed my eyes and laid down on the floor and spread my arms and legs like a snow angel, I would levitate and float through life in a dark and serene place forever. I would float in slow-motion, pinging off and bouncing off any objects that I come into contact with. But then I realize that I cannot live my life that way, and that I needed to refocus with laser-like precision. 

To make things more difficult, my executive secretary and I have been fighting for most of last month. I believe she is emotional regarding our long-distance employer-employee agreement, and my not being there physically for her has really affected her. Me, on the other hand, I have been in a long-distance relationship before, so I kind of know how to handle it, and all I can do is be patient with my secretary. We have been able to work things out, and we have decided to keep on moving forward with our business agreement. And I love her :). 

The Farmers market season is coming to a close, and I and quite beside myself. I am not really sure where to go from here. I have, however, applied to Whole Foods, PCC Natural Markets, and Ken's Market in order for me to get into the business of wholesaling. I believe wholesaling is the next logical step in order for me to grow and expand John's Kimchi. 

Fingers are crossed, and here's hoping for the best. 


-The Kimchi Whisperer- 


Eating Pho at My Apartment :)

my dad is the one at the lower left and my moms is the one to his left  they look happy, everyone else is busy eating :) 

my dad is the one at the lower left and my moms is the one to his left

they look happy, everyone else is busy eating :) 

A family after a long flight being properly fed is a happy family, indeed

I believe all my work and diligence paid off, and it makes me smile

I am in the business of making people smile :) 

-The Kimchi Whisperer- 

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- 


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-