My, my, my what a crazy ride 2020 was, and it looks like 2021 was taking notes. With that said, I’m still happy 2020 is no longer with us. I would like to acknowledge the lives lost or affected by COVID. My prayers and thoughts are with you all.
I know I promised to write more and I apologize for the lie. Life has been nonstop and I’m still learning the balance. So let’s jump right in with the business updates:
-The business managed to stay completely out of debt!
-We received a reimbursement grant and, through Pierce County Fresh, were able to setup our online store and website (check us out at babychavs.com)
-We were able to provide sale wholesale for a few months We bought 6 fertilized Silver Appleyard eggs and 4 hatched!
April will mark our one year anniversary in business. We have learned a lot, but we have a lot more to go. One exciting new business growth will be our offering of fertilized duck eggs. Soon, people will be hatching ducks from Baby Chavs and that’s exciting and motivating. So it looks like 2021 will still be a year of learning, trial and error, and growth. I’m cautiously optimistic.
It’s been awhile since I blogged. I had a blog written after my last post. It was fun talking about budgeting and spending from the business account instead of the family account. But then the civil rights protest broke out across the world. There was so much worry, fear, and tears, and honestly I didn’t feel like posting. I know it was irresponsible for me not to at least blog an “I’m not blogging” notice. But I didn’t feel like that either. I chose not to write, I spent days crying, I spent days envious, I spent days praying, I spent days just counting hours. I was functional, and I allowed myself to feel what I was feeling. I praise God that the dark cloud that was over me is gone. Everyday life doesn’t feel like a chore anymore. Please realize if you are reading this and coping with depression – contact a professional! I am not above therapy and no one is. I have a B.A. in Psychology and I was able to use the tools I learned from college, from past jobs, and past personal therapy sessions to help me cope with my short-term feelings of being low. I would go back to therapy in a heartbeat if things felt unbearable.
I just did the bare minimum to love as a wife and mother, run a business, and run a household. Being stressed and down is a horrible combination. Although civil unrest is still present — I feel like I can write again. So I would like to acknowledge the fight of my brothers and sisters; however, this post will not be going into details of my feelings. Mostly because they’re still raw.
To catch everyone up, we are vendors at the Lakewood Farmers Market! The farmers market opened a few weeks ago and their opening week was a great success. I’m dealing with feelings of missing out since our first week was going to be July 3rd until I found out the market was closed that day. Reading that email definitely had me disappointed. For starters, I have started a lot of microgreen trays. Not only that, but we adjusted the business model to reflect our market day and hours. As a result, we have not received as many orders.
I’d been letting social media know we’re starting the farmers market July 3rd. I felt unprofessional and unprepared having to go back on my word. Pushing past those feelings, I still prepared and attended our first market day that following Friday! It was like getting ready for a beach day and a market day. I had to pack lunches for the family, harvest, ensure we had all the necessary things, make the kids use the restroom two times before leaving, and set up. The learning curve was huge but we made it! I was able to juggle running a booth and parenting for 4 hours. We did not sell out of and I was upset disappointed. I failed to initially realize we made a little under a week worth in 4 hours!
With all that said, I plan to be more consistent with blogging and updating everyone on the business. We have some exciting plans for the future and I can’t wait to share them!
Mother’s Day was extremely and surprisingly relaxing. I would venture to say it was one of the best I’ve experienced so far. The weather reached the mid 80s, Ozzy cooked and served me food as I read outside, and the kiddos did not fight or ask anything of me. Since being quarantined, I haven’t done my usual routine to relax. My usual go-tos were getting my eyebrows waxed, ordering some Taco Time, and on special occasions, getting a facial or acupuncture. But the kids being oddly quiet with no arguing or asking for food was the break I didn’t know I needed.
Businesswise, our week had a nice flow. It felt normal and like we were working an actual job. Our customers are speaking more and we are loving it! What we think might be great isn’t what a particular customer would like. Some people aren’t comfortable with home deliveries and would prefer a more public location. Others want their microgreens freshly harvested and not living. That’s part of the small business fun: We can reasonably accommodate our customers without adding to the workload and stress.
We’re still learning how to generate income online, and we purchased a domain name. Now it’s looking for the right website builder to build our online store. If there’s any suggestions, please leave a comment for us to follow up on. Our daily to-do list is still helping to keep us on track. We had two shout-outs this week: One from our church, Zion’s River, and another from Pierce County Fresh. Little things like that leave a lasting impact on us. We are grateful for the recognition people are giving us.
This week was a good week with small steady lessons that spanned throughout it. The intense self-reflection from last week was necessary. Our goals and weekly objectives were met! While treating the business as a job and passion, one thing we’re doing is allowing daydreaming. The importance of being consistent gives us the hope of expanding the farm and this becoming a multi-generational family business. The short-term goals and steps we have for the company are being fulfilled more and more each day. So even though tomorrow isn’t promised, surprises are a reality, and Covid-19 is still the talk of the town, I know God gave us this dream and vision. In the midst of the unknown, we are excited for the future.
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
This week has been an emotional rollercoaster. A few weeks ago I requested for Ark Republic to add Baby Chavs to their black farmers index (www.arkrepublic.com/blackfarmersindex). They graciously agreed and listed the farm! A few days after the add, I was contacted by Erica from the Brown Sugar Farm Project (www.brownsugarfarmproject.com). She wanted to sponsor a CSA share for people in my service area. Do you know how excited I was?! I was high off the excitement for a few days. Out of ALL the farms on that page, Baby Chavs located in Tacoma, WA was chosen! Ozzy and I thanked the Lord and took it as a sign we’re moving in the right direction. Wednesday came and we got another order! More exposure equated to more happiness. But the days we didn’t get any sales or inquiries I felt low. I realized I was falling into the social media trap that many people fall victim to – finding validation from views, likes, and (for me) sales.
I was never like that. I never “did it for the ‘gram”. I wrote funny stories about my family, posted a few selfies, and shared memes . Now I feel like I have to impress people. It feels like I’m on a stage and I need to catch your attention before you click away. I found myself desiring to separate the need of social media popularity and be legitimately excited for the business growing and reaching more people.
On Friday I checked a website to see if Baby Chavs won a $5,000 grant. That money would have gone to buying things we needed for a vendors’ booth, more seeds, money for a website, etc. I shed three or four tears before calling Ozzy. We didn’t win. After sitting with my disappointment, I chose to look at the situation realistically. The company providing the grant had 1,500 applications but only enough funding for 50 farms. Assumedly, those 50 winners submitted better applications and/or needed the money more than us. I’m truly happy for the farmers that won and I pray for success over all the 1500 applicants. At the same time it was a humbling experience that taught me how to embrace facts without emotions. Something I needed to learn while dealing with my newly developed social media issues.
I’m sure my feelings over the business were amplified over the Ahmaud Arbery story as well. I heard about it last week and shared his family’s Facebook page on my personal page. I’m speechless. I’m hurt. I’m worried. These stories have been told since the start of American history. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video. But I’ve been watching social media and heard the unanimous cries of my people. Yes this week has been hard for the African American community and we’re just that – a community. A community page connected me with another community member. That person supported a brand new microgreen urban farm. With that said, let us as a community (and our neighbors) support the Arbery family. Crowdpac created a fundraise for his family: https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/395160/supporting-ahmaud-arberys-family . One-hundred percent of the money raised will be donated to them.
Yes this week was a mix of emotions! Coexisting with all of these emotions was difficult but it was needed for growth from within and beyond.
“Often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”
I understand why a social media developer is an actual job. I’ve been racking my brain over new ways to say, “HEY THERE COOL CATS AND KITTENS!” No, not you cool ppl – you’re too far for delivery, yes you cool ppl – “LOOK AT US! TRUST US! BUY FROM US!”. Content development is like writing, sometimes it comes easy and idea after idea just continues to flow from the brain and directly to the keyboard. Other times it’s making bubble clouds with topic ideas with lines branching off from that topic just to help formulate a paragraph. That’s where I’m at this week. My ability to create content is experiencing a block. Last week I had content for more than the week. I had my phone snapping photos, google docs was filled with ideas, and plenty of design development was on my whiteboard.
On Monday we had an influx of orders (thank you again 1000x)! I was taken aback and started organizing to make sure things were fulfilled in a timely manner. Ozzy was called out for work more than usual this week and so everything fell on me. It’s interesting how I easily switched from creative developer to task manager but the switch back wasn’t as natural. As a result, I struggled. I felt exhausted and disappointed that I didn’t reach my goals (they were a little unrealistic).
Now I know when my creativity is flowing for the online post – create, create, create – even if it’s two or three weeks worth of content. Even today’s blog isn’t coming as naturally as the first previous three did. But I told myself I needed to do this every week – regardless of the schedule – so that my family can have something to look back on and that others can see what it’s like to feel starting a microgreen business from the ground up.
Even through the struggle, I still learned a lot this week. Here are my takeaways:
Post timing is important. Post after 7pm and our posts do not get shared or viewed as much.
Be consistent – like everything in life, consistency is key. As of right now I have no content ideas for next week but I’m trusting God for some breakthrough. Until then I’ll be researching and studying for new ideas.
Know your worth.
It’s okay to laugh and have fun.
Create weekly objectives to stay focused.
My objectives this week were to launch our CSA and to generate sales everyday this week. We were able to launch and we didn’t achieve the goal of everyday sales but we did average out closely to it! So there you have it. Our 1st month of business has come to an end. Thank you for following, encouraging, and reading our journey this far!
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
It’s crazy that the business is three weeks old! We have been busy with planting and fulfilling orders. To add to our list of responsibilities, we decided to buy two ducklings as family pets! We’re still extremely grateful for all the support and talk surrounding our new company.
But whoa! Let us explain a few things we never would have expected as a self-funding startup family business during a global pandemic. The first surprise is the panic purchasing of seeds. We did not see that coming at all. Companies are no longer expediting orders. You can pay extra for it to possibly be expedited but they can’t guarantee it because of the backlog. The stress of us not getting supplies in time is one that we did not prepare for. Now we are ordering more at a time to ensure we don’t run out. We’re strong advocates for being somewhat self-sustaining. Not everyone can or desires to live 100% off the grid, but knowing the basics of planning and planting is a skill set we feel all Americans should have. We are advocates for food over yards (that’s for a different blog day) but we hope people are actually reading, researching, and using the seeds properly.
The second thing is how expensive self-startups are! One positive impact COVID-19 has had on our family is we are saving money by not eating out as much. We spend more on groceries but our overall food bill has been cut drastically. That extra money is being transferred towards the business. Even with that, we are still weighed with decisions to either help grow the company or apply the funds towards the family needs. We’re aware of the grants and loans for small businesses suffering during this pandemic. We do not believe it’s appropriate for us to apply, let alone accept, any monies available to struggling businesses. Are we in the red? Oh definitely yes! However, we prepared ourselves (mentally at least) to be in the red for a few months before opening. Now, the new struggle is figuring out a way to get out of the red.
Going out and fulfilling deliveries was the highlight of our week! Being able to keep social distancing guidelines while actually seeing our friends face-to-face is something we cherished. It’s completely different from video chatting! There was no technology between us, no one looking at themselves in the camera like it was a mirror, and no distractions. It’s funny how we took being in the same space with people for granted; now it’s something we cherish.
This week also reminded us the importance of having a daily routine. Being a small business owner is truly a full time + part time job. We’re the ones responsible for growing, promoting, keeping track of inventory, accounting, packaging, and delivering. It’s a lot to juggle. Keeping the mornings consistent is important and stress-reducing. We wake up, pray, water the trays, go outside and water the garden (if needed), check our emails, start any new orders, and then begin researching new ways to generate new sales. This flow pattern helps with work life and home life. Everything seems to fall in place afterwards.
We are out of the fog of fear and now actively engaging in ways to be wise business owners. We’re able to make decisions more logically, and we realize that people are people — it’s either a yes or a no. A ‘yes’ means ensuring our A-game is consistent, and a ‘no’ means exploring different avenues or options. This week’s lesson for us was learning how to look at the current facts for tomorrow’s income, without fear clouding our judgments.
Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.
We had our first sale last Friday (April 10th)! While reading my email, I was shocked, amazed, and then overwhelmed with gratitude. My day started with me still wrapping my head around the fact that the market’s application for vendors was temporarily suspended. My thoughts were racing. If I was able to get into the farmers market, should I get a babysitter? Would it be wise to get a sitter during this time? How can I sell my produce online? Am I going about advertising the right way? You know, all the normal thoughts of a novice business owner. Trying to cast doubt aside, I had Ozzy reread our 1st blog for the 20th time and then we posted it. Then I wondered if anyone would take time to actually read it. I went out to the grocery store. I thought it would be nice to get a break from the kids after staying home for two weeks. But it wasn’t; I was stressed thinking about COVID-19. The invisible threat event encouraged Pierce Transit to program their bus readers to remind the general public, “Stay Home! Save Lives”. Reading that bus reader for two blocks and seeing drivers with face masks hit me hard – this is a reality and it feels like I’m in a science fiction movie and I’m opening up a business in the middle of it.
After buying groceries and taking a family walk I was able to clear my mind from Baby Chavs and also COVID-19. While cooking dinner, the fresh vegetables reminded me of microgreens. I talked to Ozzy once again about my concern with trying to get sales online without first building customers at the farmers markets. I kept thinking of ways to actually make a sell and how to setup an ordering system (we will in the near future). Then I checked my email after dinner. I noticed one that was sent at 1pm and I felt like kicking myself for not responding sooner – the day I went out was the day I got an order inquiry. Graciously, the order was still fulfilled. Those $12.00 made me feel loved and affirmed. Now I know money can’t buy happiness – but I felt like a child selling her 1st macaroni painting. If you only knew the mental battle I went through last year. On top of that, I had people laugh to my face when I told them my family was starting an urban farm. I was asked why I graduated from college if I wasn’t going to use my degree. I also was asked if this was just a new-found hobby. So that first sell meant a lot. As Ozzy and I danced and hugged we received another order for $12.00! I felt so rich. Not just because I was $24.00 richer but it reminded me how much love my family and friends have for me. We went into business with no expectancy for family and friends to support us. But in that – two friends surprisingly decided to bless us. It was a reminder of how truly blessed we are.
So thank you once again to our family and friends for your love and encouragement. Thank you to those who have helped us edit a grant, those who have encouraged us to follow through, those who have given us ideas to improve, and those who have made purchases – it means the world to us! Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we sold out of our Spicy Salad Mix!!! I still can’t believe that.
A good friend is a connection to life—a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.”
What a year 2020 is turning out to be! Osvaldo (Ozzy) and I started the groundwork for Baby Chavs, our urban farm, last winter. We had modestly grand plans — introducing the city to our live produce through local farmers markets and delivering during the off-market season. Then suddenly, Washington state was ground zero for Covid-19 in the United States. As we listened and adapted to what the Governor was implementing, we agreed to stick with our plans. The markets in Washington are considered essential. As COVID-19 continues to drive most people indoors, our essential personnel are being forced outside. Then we had to face reality: Ozzy is essential personnel, and me working the market means exposing our children to the risk of COVID-19 (since they would be attending with me). In an attempt to keep our family healthy and lower the curve, we knew this wouldn’t be possible. On top of that, the markets decided to suspend vendors applications. This is confirmation that working as a vendor right now isn’t God’s will for us.
As plans continue to change with the world adapting to COVID-19, so are the plans for our young company and young family. Who knows, we might be able to figure out a way to still work the local markets. Until then, let me offer a virtual smile and handshake and say thank you for reading our blog and hopefully a future customer!
It feels like we wrote our plans on an Etch A Sketch. They keep getting bump, dropped, or shaken but the vision is still visible. So in a sense we’re starting backwards — building our customer base without people knowing our faces or produce. We envisioned the customers would experience a more intimate interaction with us. Talking with the community, giving out samples, catching up with our returning customers. Yet, reality is creating a different story. So, we are sticking with our plans of selling live (and freshly harvested) microgreens and live herbs (at a later date). Why? Well microgreens are a superfood since they are 40% more nutrient dense compared to their mature counterparts. The produce isn’t going through multiple hands, the greens are untouched, and hopefully that brings more peace of mind. On top of that — it’s fresh and delivered to your doorstep! I’ve been eating microgreens for a few years and I love them! The surprisingly spicy kick from radish microgreens make them my favorite.