Whew. It’s been a whirlwind the last few weeks. In trying to keep up with everything Sweet Element, I’ve neglected this lil’ blog. If you follow both, I guess you’ve figured out by now that this is the more personal of the blogs, where the filter is much less fine than on the Sweet Element blog! Now that the initial excitement of actually *having* the studio completed is simmering down & I’ve thrown on my marketing hat again, I have a lot more “office” time, so I’m guessing you’ll be seeing a lot more of me on here ~ and hopefully still see new Sweet Element blog entries too!
Let’s see, where to start? I have so much to say that I almost don’t know where to begin. Hrm, since lists seem to work for me, I guess I’ll tackle all the floating thoughts that way.
The Vegetarian Way: So far, it’s been fairly easy to drop meat from my diet in 2010. Granted, there have been a few times where I’ve called bacon a vegetable, and there was that one break-down burger. In general though, I’ve found a number of pretty awesome new vegetarian recipes and have never felt as “light” on a regular basis. The few times when I have eaten meat this year, I have felt the “meat lethargy” sink in, which definitely reminded me that even though it may have tasted awesome for those few minutes, it really wasn’t worth it for the next 24-48 hours of “blechness”. All in all, I’m definitely looking forward to the summer’s local produce, trips to the farmer’s market & working my way through a number of delicious vegetarian recipes. Hopefully I’ll have the time to post some here!
Entrepreneurship: Whew. This is the big one. So after an entire year, I finally have the studio space I put on my vision board so long ago. I’ve got all the equipment, the ingredients & the creative energy flowing. Now I just need: CUSTOMERS. I know that it’ll be a slow growth, especially not having a traditional storefront. Of course, knowing it and living it are two completely different things entirely. Having a business background, I am fully aware that marketing a business takes time & money, and if done well, the return on investment will come! Being on a limited budget has definitely made me think creatively about ways to promote myself. I’m hoping that at least a few of them pay off, but only time will tell. In the interim, it’s a lot of waiting time, which makes me crazy. Do all entrepreneurs have those days where they feel they are crazy? There’s something very comforting about the steady paycheck from corporate America, but even as crazy as entrepreneurship is making me these days, I still don’t think I’d go back to the cubicle, where I never felt I could be “me”.
Money: As you might imagine, this is directly tied to the start-up of Sweet Element and one of the major concerns of being an entrepreneur. My nature has always been the kind to save for a rainy day, so spending all of our emergency fund & dipping into our home equity line to open up shop has me on ~~edge~~. Add to that a number of unexpected expenses in the past few months (Thank you chipmunk/squirrel who decided to make a nest in our engine compartment to the tune of $1000+ in repairs! ), & my inner saver is just tweaked out. I have to remind myself that Jay & I have lived through these tight times before, and we’ve worked it out. I also have to remind myself that while not the ultimate goal of having my own business, making a profit is DEFINITELY on the list! (In case you’re curious, the ultimate goal for me having my own business is to allow me to live a truly creative life & bring joy to my clients!)
I feel oddly better after getting all that out in words. Time for a late breakfast, a lil’ grocery shopping & chocolating.
Although it feels like I have fallen off the earth, I am happy to say that I am still here on earth in my lil’ rainy corner of NJ. It’s been a CRAZY busy month, and I am proud to report that my studio is FINALLY OPEN!!!! It’s amazing how many little things there are to get done after all the big issues (oh ya know, like construction) have been taken care of. Luckily, I didn’t have any big orders scheduled for March … but I do have a slew for April, so the studio will definitely be put to use soon!
Cake display rack (seen when you enter the front door). The blue wall in back is the back of the studio.
The work area! I *LOVE* my two 6′ stainless tables. Finally I have enough space to roll fondant for those HUGE cakes!
In the rear of the photo you’ll see the oven on the left, a mixing table next to that & a pantry shelf with rolling dry bin storage underneath.
Another view of the work area. I’m all about not having things on the floor – so the storage shelf under those 6′ tables is all being used!
The rack on the right is filled with decorating equipment & cake pans. The chocolate tempering machine is also currently there, but will be finding it’s own home soon on a separate table (yet another thing I still need to buy!)
I envision spending a lot of time here in the beginning as I ramp up & get the word out there about the studio. Desk/coffee area = command central. Oh yes, and a magnetic whiteboard too. I CANNOT live without that. The lil’ white thing next to the desk that the coffeemaker and hot water kettle is on is a fridge. Sometimes it decides it wants to work, and other times not. Luckily, I’m only storing bottled water in it.
I also took a little video with my camera (please forgive the horrid quality) to give a quick tour of the new studio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myQsWH-ugaQ
Just a few more approvals needed (final electrical & health), scheduled for next Monday/Tuesday & the shop will be READY TO ROLL! Since all the construction is now done, I decided it was finally safe to start setting up my office. It’s amazing what a little bit of furniture can do to make a place feel like it’s finally yours! Just need a bit of artwork on the walls, a bookshelf (& books), a computer & internet connectivity. HUZZAH!
Consultation table & chairs
The almost-desk. The top we initially bought didn’t fit these legs … so it’s back to IKEA we go!
It’s been a craaaaaaazy long time in the works … but the studio is ALMOST done! Here’s a quick shot I took yesterday evening of the workspace coming together. Tomorrow is my FINAL building inspection. When I go tonight, the ceiling grid should be all done & I think I’ll be setting up some of the shelving units. All the smallwares & worktables should be arriving by the end of the week & Jay & I have one more trip to IKEA to pick up the remaining office furniture. Woot!
Excited, nervous, antsy & ready to GO. That about explains my state of mind at the moment.
Even better news … I just scheduled my first tasting in the new space for March! Wooooo!
More photos to come later tonight or tmw ….
Slowly but surely it’s coming along. Here are the latest photos I took this evening while biting my tongue to stop from getting into a giant fight with the plumber who is holding up a lot of the finishing work (the floor, the electric, etc.).
Back wall with framed in radiators
Three compartment sink with gooseneck faucet
Here are some of the photos I snapped during last night’s studio construction check-in. The ceiling grid is up, doors are in & the hood is up. I can’t believe how quickly it’s all going after such a delayed start!
After MONTHS of delays, it seems as if the construction on my studio is now working at breakneck speed. Jay & I went to check on the progress last night & were shocked to find WALLS. I had been under the assumption that my GC was still waiting on approval from the town to move forward with construction, but apparently that wasn’t the case – and work has been moving along. So after months & months of waiting – the build out will be complete in four days!? At least that’s what my GC is telling me. I am SOOOO looking forward to getting in next week to paint the walls, furnish my office & wait for my equipment to arrive.
I cannot fathom the amount of money being transferred, charged, paid, etc. within the next week. Goodbye savings … hello dream. Doesn’t seem quite real yet, but it’s getting there!