Hello friends, fans and followers.
It’s been rather quiet on my end lately. Not as many blogs, videos or online socializing as I used to do. Not that I don’t want to create fun and educational content to share with all of you. So much has been happening here…some great and some challenging. I’d like to share some thoughts that have been on my mind.
Since my company RAWbundant moved into its first commercial kitchen in August and started selling our products at stores in New Jersey and New York, my work load has multiplied tremendously. I used to think I was busy before when all I did was working with individual customer orders locally and online. I made pretty much all of the products from the prep stage to the packaging stage. With the occasional help from my family I managed to keep up with the demand and live a somewhat balanced life.
But my vision for RAWbundant was much grander than to stay “small and local.” From the moment I conceived the company in my mind, I saw it as a big brand of quality health products that would redefine the way people perceive food. The increasing demand for dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, processed sugar-free…healthy, pure, natural, organic foods inspired me to create my line. I wanted to give people with food sensitivities and special diet needs options that would fulfill the void left from the lack of such products on the market. I wanted to offer people healthier alternatives to all the processed junk foods saturating the supermarket shelves. I wanted to educate anyone who was willing to learn a better way to eating a healthy balanced diet. RAWbundant was not just a company in my eyes. RAWbundant was part of a larger movement that has been happening “quietly” across social borders.
In order to accomplish that powerful vision, I knew that RAWbundant must begin working with health food stores to bring its products to a larger audience that what I was able to reach locally. We started with Dean’s Natural Food Market and Natures Corner Market in South Jersey, and then Lifethyme Natural Market and soon after Westerly Natural Food Market in NYC. By doing demos and samplings we introduced many new people to our products. The response was amazing! People loved our stuff and ended up purchasing their favorite items – Nut Cheezes, Sunburgers, Crackers, Grawnola or Macaroons. What a blessing is to see something you created being received so well by the public. Finally things started to happen for RAWbundant.
As the demand for our products increased, the work hours have shot through the roof. It’s great to have all these orders but then you realize you only have two hands and 24 hours in a day to accomplish things. In the month of September I was working close to 80 hours a week. Between preparing foods, packaging foods, cleaning up, doing customer service, packaging and shipping orders, delivering orders, fostering new customer relationships…I was going to bed at 5 am, sleeping a few short hours and then starting the cycle all over again. Simple things such as a quiet evening watching movies and spending time with my boyfriend and our son quickly disappeared from my schedule. Finding time for myself was impossible. As tired as I got I just kept going and going.
Luckily I have a supportive and loving family that came to the rescue. My mom and sister began working alongside me to meet the increasing production demand. My dad was able to withdraw his retirement fund and invest it into my company so that I can afford getting a few expensive pieces of equipment for the new kitchen, pay for the product photo shoot, website and packaging designs, and purchase larger quantities of ingredients. My boyfriend Mark, while working full-time job, has pinched in to help with packaging and deliveries. He’s also paid all the household bills from day one so that I can focus my energy solely on RAWbundant. I wouldn’t know what I would do without them.
The deeper I dive into RAWbundant the more I realize that growing a company is an extremely challenging and trying task. As someone who has never owned a business before, I can only compare it to becoming a parent for the first time. No matter how many books you’ve read, how many people have given you advice, how prepared you think you are…you really know NOTHING until you face the experience. There are so many new things you encounter that don’t have reference base in your past. From figuring out the licenses and permits you need to operate to learning how to manage your time efficiently to dealing with last minutes accidents…your nerves and patience will be tested beyond your imagination.
Indeed growing a business is no different than raising your child. Unless you are willing to put the same amount of love, passion, commitment, dedication and selflesnees…the trying moments can easily break your spirit and force you to abandon your dream. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried because I didn’t know how to deal with newly risen challenges. The last week of September was particularly tough with multiple events, demos and workshops that I scheduled. Toward the end of the week I became so sick physically but I did not allow myself to recover. When my last demo at Dean’s Natural Market ended on Sunday evening I took a bottle of coconut water and proceeded to checkout on my way out of the store. A woman approached me, asking if I was the lady behind the raw sunburgers they have been selling recently. I guess she saw my RAWbundant t-shirt and got the clue from there. I replied yes and she went on to thank me for creating such delicious “burgers”. She said that she suffered with many food allergies which prevented her from finding a product that suits her taste and needs…until she discovered my RAWbundant Sunburgers. Her voice was pouring with gratitude.
I got to my car and then…it hit me. All that effort…all the countless hours of work…all the sleepless nights…all the body exhaustion…all were suddenly justified by that woman’s simple act of kindness. She reminded me why I was doing all of that in the first place. Hearing I have made a difference in one person’s life is what makes everything worthwhile. What a great “reward” that was and one that I will cherish forever.
It’s almost 4 am as I am wrapping up this blog. I should have been in bed long time ago but I felt the need to share those thoughts with you. It’s been a cathartic experience…and humbling. As difficult as this entrepreneur experience gets I have to keep reminding myself the simple truths of why I am undertaking it. It’s all done in service of the greater good of humanity. And as long as that remains as my driving force, I know God and the Universe will be right beside me to assist in realizing my RAWbundant vision.
Copyright © 2011 Zoe V. All Rights Reserved