I write this blog at the end of possibly the hardest week I’ve ever had to endure as a business owner so far, and I’m compelled to write today not about food (although this may be related to the fact that I am also in the middle of a 3 week juice cleanse and don’t really want to think about food right now). There are things we say in our culture, like “I love you” and “sorry,” that are often over-stated and under-meant. One of those sayings I’d like to start with has a whole lot of (new) meaning to me today. LIFE IS HARD.
It’s true that it’s not always this way–for example: using my beloved mac is EASY–but there have been enough times where I felt I was struggling to fight goliath that I believe this theme is recurrent probably for many of us. No matter what your occupation, your status, your situation: LIFE IS HARD. And though we always connect with our friends, coworkers, family, and brands when life is good–what about when things turn–no, churn–their way south? Today’s blog is about my new understanding of COMMUNITY and how CHANGE is a funny thing…forgive me for letting go of food for a couple of weeks.
Picture: Our amazing Farmers’ Mkt employee Tanya Faris LOVES her Health-ade
When I started this business just about 1 year ago with my husband and best friend, the only word to describe how I felt was excited. There was so much opportunity and autonomy…so much promise and hope. I left my well-paid and padded corporate job to pursue a personal mission–to bring a BETTER and MORE DELICIOUS kombucha to the market…to prove that I can do it, EVEN in a recession, EVEN with no experience, EVEN with a couple pennies in my pocket (even with a Canadian passport). I remember people from within the entrepreneurial circuit telling me–”it’s a lot of hard work, you know”—but I just snuffed! You think HARD WORK is going to keep this girl from achieving her dreams? You got the wrong girl in mind, because that’s just about how I’ve always maneuvered through life: with energy and hard work. So, we jumped right in. We tested the product for but a couple months, created a plan, and pressed GO. For the first 8 months of this endeavor, exciting and promising is exactly what it was. Sure, there were tough times, decisions, and LOTS of learning, but the promise–the hope–was the only thing that guided us forward.
I realize that I don’t have any reference point, but still I don’t believe our business grew quite the same way as most. We grew fast, and without a lot of backing or knowledge. We “fell off the horse” constantly, and we wanted it so bad that we gladly “jumped back on”–each time with a new process, a better process. Whereas in my previous job I was forced to continuously improve maybe once a month–or in new tasks once a week–Health-Ade had us improving every hour, at times every minute. The saying “change is a constant” felt like a totally new (under) statement and our plans fluidly adjusted with the times every moment that passed. We, my friends, were well on our way in a fast sprint.
Though the Health-Ade trio is quite possibly the most resilient group of which I have ever been a part, there is only so many times any kind of person can fall off the horse before he feels beaten. Enter: May, 2013. Sparing you of the details, let’s just say the storm arrived. Employee hiring & firing, inspections, unexpected growth, new laws, production changes, budget constraints, fender-benders, machine break-downs, theft, and shortages all fell on our desks this month. These problems didn’t come all at once–it was more like one after the other, after the other. Just when we got to touching the first situation, the next one came with more urgency and complexity. Prioritze. Gather. Interrupt gathering: unscheduled inspection. Prioritize. Gather. Interrupt gathering: car accident. Prioritize. Gather. You get it. This, all the while, is happening while the 3 of us are still working IN (not just ON) the business. #latenightsplusnosleepmakedainaadullgirl
(And, by the way, everything is and always was excellent with Health-Ade–business is booming, and we’re just figuring each day (and minute) out how to keep up. We are in over 100 stores now and just keep getting better.)
I needed this week to gather my thoughts about what transpired, because no reflection was going on during the repeated fire-drill. Of course I thought about our business and how to plan so that we’re ahead of the game next time. About our roles in working ON vs. IN the business. About expanding our kitchen space. About connecting with investors. These, though, are all (relatively) easy things to think about. What really boggled my mind was the insanely intense fight. Could it possibly be true that ALL successful business owners had to go through this? Would even 1% of the population choose to “move forward” when it reveals itself to be such a struggle? If so, I have a new understanding of survival of the fittest, and it’s more like–those who hang on, live. I’ll admit that I believed for a moment that NO ONE could be possibly working as hard as us to succeed.
But it was only when I expanded my line of thinking that I found my relief (and frankly, humility). I saw a facebook post of a friend who has cancer for the second time in 2 years at 31. What about HER struggles? Though coming at her at maybe a different pace and certainly a different category, wasn’t she being bombarded by it all too? The poignancy of having to face (and fight) cancer again when she shouldn’t have it in the first place (and what the heck is it, anyway) must be sterilizing, and the fight necessary is probably unparalleled.
How about the new mothers–bringing home their first child after an incredibly tiring and trying labor? These mothers “throw out the book” and retreat to an almost primitive derivation of themselves once they spend the 30th day in a row at 3am consoling a crying infant. And in 2013 it’s even harder, because most moms can’t just focus ON their business of rearing a child, because they must also work IN the business of playing house manager, breadwinner, boss, co-worker, and maybe even trophy-wife at the same time. As I fantasized about the lives of these people, I realized that when we challenge ourselves with something big, it ALWAYS hurts. Sure, you might be the only one dealt with that exact hand, but we all experience the same kind of pain when we push on. It can get SO painful, that you might even doubt yourself. And all of us that are trying to break free from our cocoon are experiencing the SAME THING. I fully felt–even if just for a second–this doubt overcome me.
But then I serendipitously heard the commencement speaker at USC Marshall School of Business say to this year’s graduating class–”…it is at these times–the times you question your sanity and want to throw in the towel–that you weed the rest of the competition out. It is at these times that you reveal your character. And, it is at these times that you must fight on…” Coming from the CEO of GlobeOP, a now billion-dollar business he built from scratch, these were like words from God meant just for me. Just those 3 sentences totally brought me back on my trajectory of happiness and success. And the simplicity of it made me wonder…
How many of our friends, family, and even our favorite brand ambassadors are going through this stage at this very moment? How many of these that we love and cherish need our support–need us to cheer them on–while they break free and reinvent themselves? As a community, do we foster this kind of reinforcement? The truth is, life IS really hard if you’re taking actions to change. And, if a measly 3 sentences was enough to get my mojo back, imagine what a few words of encouragement could do to all those around us that are fighting in some way.
My blog today is meant to share with you 2 things: 1)my new understanding of change and 2) how much support and community matters in the journey (no matter what mountain you climb). What got you to where you are won’t get you any further, so if you have a goal in mind–you must do something drastically different. It will hurt, and it might even drive you close to crazy–but with the help and cheer of those around you, you can do it. At the end of the day, you can either flail or prevail–and it’s entirely your choice. So….I FIGHT ON.
Daina Slekys, MS, MPH is a Nutritionist and co-founder of Health-Ade kombucha, in Los Angeles, CA. EMAIL Daina your health questions and she’ll be happy to help! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HEALTH-ADE KOMBUCHA IS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE IN LA AREA STORES OR FARMERS’ MARKETS, AND IT CAN BE DELIVERED RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR STEP!
EMAIL US to schedule your delivery (email@example.com)
- 12 bottles in a case
- get any mix of flavors in your case
- $55 one time or $50 for repeat deliveries
- CALABASAS, CA (Saturday 8am-1pm)
- BRENTWOOD, CA (Sunday 9am-2:30pm)
- LARCHMONT, CA (Sunday 9am-2:30pm)
- PACIFIC PALISADES, CA (Sunday 8am-1pm)
- MALIBU, CA (Sunday 10am-3pm)
- CENTURY CITY FARMERS’ MARKET (Thursday 11am-3pm)
- Starting in May, at the CULVER CITY FARMERS’ MARKET (Tuesday 3-7 pm)
WE’RE CURRENTLY ALL OVER LA CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE ATWWW.HEALTH-ADE.COM TO FIND OUT WHERE WE ARE!
KREATION JUICERY LOCATIONS:
Health-Ade teamed up with acupuncturist and herbologist, Brigita Slekys, to create special Chinese herb-infused elixirs exclusively for Kreation Juicery. These drinks combine Health-Ade kombucha and custom-built Chinese herbal tinctures to highlight different benefits inherent to kombucha.
Available at Kreation Juicery in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Venice (NEW!) and Manhattan Beach.