I get asked pretty often what the best part about starting my own business has been. People expect me to say, “Being my own boss!”…or (and this is a close second) “Eating as much cookie dough as I can dream of!” But honestly, without a doubt, being able to have a positive influence on other people’s lives is the most rewarding – and maybe unexpected – part of starting DOUGHP.
The opportunities to give back have continued to pour in. We raised funds for a young cookie-dough-loving boy battling his second round with cancer, moved our dough production to a non-profit manufacturer, and donated $1500 for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. At every turn, I’ve continued to be amazed at the impact a company can have – no matter how small. [Learn more about each of these & how you can help by clicking "Read More" at the bottom of this blog.]
Many entrepreneurs say that they intend to do all sorts of wonderful things after their business is successful, but don't when success happens... If you plan to succeed, do so from the beginning. There may not be time later. - Paul Hawken
Another opportunity to give back arose last week. Caleigh Huber is facing wildly difficult life choices given recent news in her ongoing battle with Cystic Fibrosis. One choice she made easily last week was to marry her then-fiancé, Bryan. Her disease required her to get a double lung transplant in 2015. Already an insanely traumatizing ordeal, her body is now rejecting the transplant and it’s uncertain her body is eligible for a do-over on the transplant. Health issues aside...love is taking charge and in 6 days, they turned what was an engagement party into a full-blown wedding.
What typically takes a couple 12 MONTHS or more to plan, was now going to come together in 6-days . What’s more? With a mountain of medical bills, this needed to be a virtually free endeavor. Caleigh built quite a following online (@fight2breathe) with her inspiring story for both those in and out of the CF community alike. She contacted me via DOUGHP’s Instagram last week making a request that we cater the dessert at her wedding…in 4 days…for free. I’m a sucker for love, and this girl is a total badass --- DOUGHP was game to make this happen.
I pulled together the order for the dough we’d need and made all the necessary arrangements for us to cater the wedding this past Saturday. Thinking there might be a little something more I could do, I did some digging and got her best friend to shed light on Caleigh’s favorite candy. Milk Duds. (I knew I liked this girl! Yum!) I made a special batch of Milk Dud cookie dough and named it “Bryan’s No Dud!” for the wedding night.
I arrived on Saturday, nervous but excited to be a part of such a special event; two people uncertain of how much time they have together – yet devoted to living the best of each day they have with one another. I’m so honored that Caleigh invited us to be there – the dough was a fun addition to such an amazing day. Congratulations, Bryan & Caleigh. Everyone at DOUGHP is wishing you both the best, sending you lots of love, and more cookie dough whenever you need it. <3
For some insight on this magical love they’ve got going – here are Caleigh’s wedding vows:
On this day, I give you my whole heart. My promise to be faithful and supportive; and to always make our family's love and happiness my priority. I promise,that I will walk with you,Hand in hand, Wherever our journey leads us. Living, learning, and loving you. I will dream with you, celebrate with you and be your partner through whatever our lives may bring. I will always be honest with you, kind, patient and forgiving. I will comfort you when the Ohio State Buckeyes loose, I will give my shoulder when you're in conflict. I will always wait for you while you’re away for work. I vow be more selfless, more compassionate, more driven and more giving.
I'm sorry, my love, that you won’t always have me in your life, but I promise you every minute I’m alive I will dedicate myself to you. I will never stop fighting to stay alive. You inspire me to fight harder, to put myself through struggle, to look past chaos, to drink ensures and to take my medication. You have made me a better person, and I vow to continue to strive to be better every day. and the best wifey I can be to you. Forever and Always.
PS: These two are headed off on a magical honeymoon, funded by their community of supporters – additional funds raised will go towards outstanding medical bills and to help others in similar situations. Please consider making a donation here: https://www.gofundme.com/fight2honeymoon
Photo Credit: Retrospect Images, http://weddings.retrospectimages.com
Here’s some more backgrounds on the other areas I mentioned at the start of this post...
First – on one of my first weeks selling DOUGHP I was lucky enough to meet Collin & his family. A cookie-dough-loving father & son were out for a clinical trial at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital staying nearby to the food park that I’d just started selling at. Collin is adorable and I was so moved by their story; his 2nd battle with cancer & at such a young age. Struggling to find a way I could help – I brought some smiles to Collin’s face by developing a special flavor (aptly named “The Collin” and filled with his favorite candy: M&Ms) we helped raise nearly $700 (still accepting donations here) for his family’s medical expenses. Even after the trial, they kept a special spot in my heart and on a spontaneous visit to San Francisco last month, his father (Ed) told me that Collin had just 3 people he wanted to see: his doctor from UCSF, a family they met when out here for the trial, and “Kelsey the DOUGHP lady”. I’m so honored to be a part of their journey and Ed continues to update me monthly with the latest on Collin’s battle with cancer.
Then – we found The Bread Project. A necessary means to the ever-growing demand for our dough, The Bread Project is a co-packer who can produce our dough recipe for us! By working with this non-profit, we’re supporting low income individuals to become self-sufficient members of society – they are sent through a thorough training program and leave the kitchen with the career skills they need to success. It’s a great way to support both our growth, and the growth of the Bay Area community at large. Donate to / fundraise for the bread project here.
Next came the summer of destruction – personally moved by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Though raised in Northern California, I was born outside of Dallas and have family spread far and wide across Texas. To top it off, my boyfriend’s family lives in Houston so this was a scary time for all of us. I decided to have DOUGHP donate a 10% of our sales for a period of time to The Greater Houston Community Foundation – totally $1500 to help with hurricane relief efforts.
Ah, the life of an entrepreneur. So glamorous! Be your own boss! Own your hours! Do what you want! Get a lambo! Buy a mansion!...ok I'm getting carried away. But you get the point. In America we hype up this idea of being an 'entrepreneur' as total freedom. And living in San Francisco - there are a lot of us! Whether moonlighting from our day job, or taking the leap and making our venture a full-time deal - being an entrepreneur is crazy. It starts off being just as (if not more) stressful as it is rewarding, but with some purposeful and mindful adjustment, the potential is there for an amazing, fulfilling and free-willed lifestyle. This is a bit personal, and quite "behind the scenes" for DOUGHP, but I hope this post helps other budding entrepreneurs to move more purposefully into this new way of living.
The first 6 months of DOUGHP absolutely flew by. It was so crazy, so awesome, and so fast - I couldn't really even stop to examine how the stress and my "all-in" mentality had begun affecting my personal life. It's only now, about a month into life with our store at The Myriad, that I was forced to stop and reflect on how well I'm adjusting to this new entrepreneurial world of mine.
After a decade of living that #cubelyfe in Corporate America, you sort of get used to a certain way of life. My life was predictable: Wake up, work out, make a smooth, catch the train, work for a bit, lunch with coworkers, work more, train home, dinner, sleep, startover. RIVITING, I know! So leaving that life for DOUGHP, I knew things would be different than my old corporate life, but I didn't realize how intentional I would need to be about adapting to these changes. The three things that are changing the game for me right now are:
Separation of Work & Life. Owning your own business can be pretty all-consuming. You've created something and its success or failures begin to define you. You pour every ounce of energy into making it successful, but without some division of your personal and work lives - you'll go crazy. (I stopped JUST shy of moving into Crazyville. I'm still a solid amount of crazy, but it's manageable and totes chill.)
"I'm gonna work from home Friday! Woo!" What used to be an exciting change of pace (and an escape from making the long haul on CalTrain), has now become the norm. Without a true 'office' to go to, in many ways my apartment turned into DOUGHP HQ -- albeit with no free food, laundry services, or sit/stand desks (Ugh, what is this dump?! Kidding.). My apartment initially started out as a storage unit, too, for our giant wooden serving cart, huge boxes of cups, and more cookie dough than any one person should ever have in their home! Slowly but surely found a home for the big equipment, and made a point to work from coffee shops much more often. I'm now making a much more conscious effort to separate my time at home to relax when I can and work out at some coworking spaces or local coffee shops. Home has begun to feel a bit more like home -- in fact, as I'm writing this, I'm looking out at the edge of Golden Gate Park, sipping some tea at Flywheel Coffee Roasters.
Another area in desperate need of some work/life separation is with personal relationships. I'm focused on becoming more mindful of when/how I talk about work-related things in front of my boyfriend and close friends. Being a sole-owner has its blessings and shortcomings at the same time. Occasionally you just NEED to hash out a new idea, issue arising, flavor you're dreaming up - but usually that person can't always be your significant other. While he loves what I'm doing with DOUGHP (and eats enough of it to feed a small army), he'll get burnt out if I am always rattling on and on about what's new with DOUGHP. Per some recent advice, we're going to try and delegate specific time to talk about DOUGHP and add in a separate No-DOUGHP-Zone for a Friday night date night routine! I'm focusing my immediate needs to brainstorm with a friend of mine who's willing/free to do so and can keep a more clear divide between relaxing time with friends and work brain.
Finding Routine in the Chaos Moving from an insanely planned & overly structured life (I used to have "Take a shower." and "Eat Breakfast" daily on my calendar). Every minute was planned out. Fast forward to owning your own company and Friday feels like Tuesday, Sunday could be Thursday - it's a whirlwind and all I could do to keep my head afloat moving as fast as I was over the last 6 months. Between meetings or running an errand, I open up my laptop and bounce around between 20 open Chrome tabs, 10 half-written emails, and a graphic design piece that's just been started. Talk about anti-productivity. I was drowning, feeling 'busy' but not productive, and had nothing to anchor or focus my time around. It was like spinning in an orbit of a million things to do and no north star. Now that things have settled and I can refocus on our growth and next steps, I realized how much I miss a routine - not the one I used to have per say, but I'm just longing for something a little more routine, a light structure for the day-to-day. So now I'm waking up at the same time each day, 6:15am. Get a workout in (if you don't do it first thing, it ain't gonna happen!). Make some breakfast. And spend the next 4 hours doing structured, focused work time; Marketing & Advertising on Mondays, Finance Tuesdays, etc. No other windows open on my computer, just a focused topic and it's accompanying to-do list. Hammer it out! This leaves the afternoons available to condense the errand-running, customer-meeting, firedrill-fixing life that can so quickly swallow up a whole day if you let it. I've also got a little built-in creativity time on Friday mornings to have something to look forward to and a promised break time to myself. Things are lookin' up!
Yelp Reviews & Daily Sales Cannot Rule Your Life We all remember that one time someone said we were ugly, or fat, or less-than. It hurt! It felt personal and it totally ruined your whole day (or longer!). Well owning a business is sort of like putting your own self-confidence up at auction and seeing what people want to say about what you've created. And honestly for DOUGHP, overall, it's good stuff! I would've closed up shop months back if this wasn't moving in the right direction, if people really couldn't get down with cookie dough like I imagined. But it's not the case. It's successful and I'm really humbled by the positive response we have received over the last 6 months. YET, day to day I have been riding an emotional rollercoaster based of those daily sales from our point-of-sale system - or a negative review on our Yelp page. CRUSHED! It didn't matter if I'd just met a couple who drove up from LA to try our cookie dough and loved it, or a new mom coming back for her 4th time that week, etc. That one, sad review would just crush my whole day. It was all I could think about, and it felt so very personal. I'd poured my heart & soul into this, so I shouldn't be surprised that an attack on the brand or our product felt like an attack on my heart & soul! A poor sales day could be right beside an unbelievably big sales day at a food festival or some large corporate catering gig we just closed. But seeing that low day totally counteracted the successes. So, in an effort to remove myself from this day-to-day ride, I'm taking advantage of the newly structured 'work time' on my calendar to look in at sales in a purposeful, actionable way. And another time to read and respond to Yelp reviews - good and bad!
So here we go! 6 months in, flying fast, and I hit a great time to reset and refocus so that I've got the mental wherewithal to really take DOUGHP to the big leagues! Best of luck to any of you out there headed on the same journey, I am here to help however I can!
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