I am not by nature a patient person. Perhaps it’s the by product of being a determined urbanite my entire adult life. I like things to happen quickly, that is one of the main reasons I don’t shop online, I need to be able to bring it home with me right then.
But the universe is a funny place and after 51 years, it has decided that I need to learn to be patient. So I have embarked on a couple of things that require time.
The first thing is my new business. It took probably 2 years from talking about it to holding the first cooking class. It turns out I needed all that time to think it through and be comfortable with what I am doing. Not being particularly concerned about the long term, I never thought about what would happen after I started it. So great, it’s launched, now what? It turns out I need to sell people on it, get them interested, excited and want to come. Here’s another discovery, I am rubbish at selling. So here I am, making classic marketing mistakes that I have counselled many friends against. So the business will grow slowly, along with my abilities as a salesperson. Again, patience is required.
The second thing is my fitness. I altered the way I eat about 18 months ago and what started as a 30 day experiment has turned into a lifestyle. I was overweight with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I fixed my diet and slowly got back into shape. Then I stepped it up a notch by joining a gym which I chose for the very superficial reason of proximity and newness. It is a place where fighters come to train. I started doing conditioning classes because again, it was convenient and now I am hooked. But transforming myself from a creature who loves nothing better than to hang on the sofa, to one that can sustain a serious workout for 45 minutes will take some time. My biggest challenge at the moment is my boxing class. I love it but it’s also really scary. It is challenging the notion of who I am and what I do. There is no sparring involved so I am in no danger of being knocked out. But this is serious business that requires absolute concentration. I have never been sporty so I find myself constantly over thinking. Plus I have never been a fan of boxing so the entire experience is very alien to me. You get the picture, a fish out of water desperately trying to grow legs. I’m going to stick with it even though I feel incredibly awkward and hope that in time, it will become more natural. It helps that everyone at the gym has gone out of their way to be nice to me. Thank you for being so supportive.
So here I am learning to take things slowly and enjoy the journey. Maybe I will savour these victories more because they took time to achieve? I don’t know, but I am willing to wait to find out.
ps while looking for a suitable picture to put in this blog, I came across this fascinating article
Maybe everyone knows about it already, I do tend to live in a news vacuum. It turns out the way I am is well documented. Go figure, and I thought I was special.
All set up for the day
My day started at 4 am. I had to get ready for the Underground Farmers & Craft Market at Ms Marmite Lover’s home. To answer the many questions that probably popped into your head from my last two sentences, here’s a quick explanation. Ms Marmite Lover runs the Underground restaurant network, a loosely organised group of food lovers who either host supper clubs (open your home to strangers, cook and charge them to eat the lovely food) or participate in them or just support the whole enterprise. She took this concept one step further and opened her home to the general public and invited stall holders to come and take part.
I decided to participate and it was my first foray into marketing my baby business. Hence my 4 am wake up to prepare what I was selling that day, gomoku sushi, or sushi rice mixed with veggies. It was a day unlike any other I had ever experienced. Now I have had experience in organising fairs and even selling at them, but never my own things. There were lots of lessons learned on the day.
The biggest lesson I learned was to step outside my head and look at my business. I took part in this market to promote my cooking classes and my wonderful friend C did a fantastic job branding me and doing up labels, but I failed to provide a single large sign that advertised what I do. It was so obvious to me and I thought, if you look at the labels, it too is obvious, but what I failed to take into account, is that I am not doing a presentation, but selling in a room with 7 other stall holders with upwards of 200 people parading past my table. So next time, a big sign.
I made such an elementary mistake that I still can’t believe it. I failed to take people’s contact details. I tell everyone who is just starting out that you have to be proactive. Just don’t hand out information and wait for people to contact you, take their details and remind them of who you are. I didn’t take my own advice, so here I am, waiting for people who took my details to contact me. Hmmm, fix that too next time.
Lesson number 2, do not use a crowded market to introduce an unfamiliar product. No one was looking at my sushi, and I finally realized that no one knew what it was. At which point I opened it up and tried to give away some tastes, but it is after all, rice in a box. It was definitely tricky. Also, people were mostly grazing and snacking as they walked, so rolled sushi would have been infinitely more identifiable as well as easy to eat. My daughter’s friends had a feast with the leftovers.
I also did a cookery demo which I think went pretty well. I certainly had a big group of people crowding in to watch. It is very different using someone else’s kitchen and even though I brought all my own things, the set up took time and I will try and keep it more simple next time. I really have new respect for those people who can go into other people’s homes and demonstrate cooking. It’s a whole other level of complicated.
But my entire family came along for the day to support me and hang out and it was a great day. I met lots of really nice people, ate entirely too much amazing food and brought home enough other people’s food that we all had a lovely supper.
I have had a couple of people contact me about classes already so it was a great, it was a wonderful atmosphere in which to try out my little business and the response I got was really nice.
I hope Ms Marmite Lover will have me back for the next one. I’m already thinking of what I can make.
What is home? When you’re an expat, I think home is more of a concept than a location. In my case, that location tends to change with some regularity. When I was growing up, every 5 years, my dad would get transferred, from Japan to the States and then back. The last time was when I was 16 and I stayed, going onto university, meeting and marrying my husband and having two kids. My parents did another posting during that time but I had a family of my own by then, so as far as I was concerned, my home was in America with my husband and two kids.
Just when I was thinking I should apply for citizenship, my husband gets transferred to Japan. Go figure. So off we go for what was supposed to be a 2 year posting which turned into 4 years. It was great exposing the kids to the other half of their culture. It made me appreciate the country that was my heritage. I had the unique experience of being able to see my country both from the inside and the outside. I met expats who had lived in Japan longer than I had, a little disconcerting for both of us.
We would go home to the States every summer, see friends and family, renew our ties with our community, go visit the house we were renting out in our absence and generally feel that our status overseas was temporary. We would soon come “home”.
Then, we added a third country to the mix. My husband took a job in London and we moved to a country that was unfamiliar to both of us. At least we spoke the language, but just barely as everything else was as different as can be. It’s been 9 years now, and we have no plans of leaving.
Of course, my husband has added yet another country to the ever expanding list of places we live, he took a job in Prague and we now have a commuting lifestyle. The kids have rolled with the punches and they appreciate the upbringing they have had. When I was younger, I wanted for my kids, exactly what I didn’t have, a house that was home for as long as they could remember. It didn’t quite work out that way, but on Sunday, as I was approaching Heathrow after a weekend in Prague, I had the distinct feeling of coming home. So maybe this is it, this is home for me.
Summer is pretty much over where I live. It has been grey and rainy since I came home. I had some serious down time while away on holiday and can’t seem to rev up again. It’s been so long since I posted anything here, that I’m sure some of you are wondering if I gave it up. I guess that’s the hazard of posting when you feel like it instead of having a schedule.
I am working on a site that brings the disparate parts of my world together, blogging, cooking and translating. I guess I am working is not quite accurate for what I am doing, I have someone doing the work for me. Hopefully before too long, it will all come together and I’ll have something that looks professional and easy to navigate. I have put things on hold, waiting for the new site and soon, I may just have to deal with the awkwardness of moving things around so that I can just get the info out there. Best laid plans and all.
I posted in the spring about going to a restaurant in someone’s house. She is doing a farmers market in her flat and garden on 19 September and I am participating. I am doing a cookery demonstration and will have a table to promote my classes. My first bit of active marketing and my first experience cooking on an AGA. Keep your fingers crossed for me and if you’re around that day, please come by and say hi. I can use all the support I can get.
Off again for bank holiday weekend, I hope the weather’s better in France.