HOLY MOLY! We have a store!
Welcome friends! My forte is not as a blogger, but I will attempt to hold your attention in spite of that.
I am sitting in what has become my second home as I type. People here know me by name, it's cozy, and it smells amazing. Thank you Sierra Springs Starbucks for your hospitality over the last year while I develop and build what you all now as Social Supper! xoxoxox
So I wanted this first blog post to be about how Social Supper came to be, the trials and tribulations of seeking out suitable retail space in the middle of a recession (and having no background in commercial real estate deals) and how we have ultimately found a home and are getting ready for launch!
Let me start by saying, never have I before known the true guts it takes to open a business until I started down this path. Small business owners of the world, I salute you, truly, you are dedicated, strong and incredible visionaries, without whom many Canadians would not be employed. I learnt a crazy statistic in the first week of participating in SMARTstart for business program (which I'll elaborate on later!) that almost 98% of ALL businesses registered in Canada are small businesses! Meaning under 100 employees! Small businesses are incredibly important to not only the Canadian economy, but to the livelihoods of our neighbours, maybe even your own livelihood! So when you see signs telling you to support local, or you have the choice to select that local book store over a giant in the industry, I hope you will support the little guy :)
So the chances are that almost everyone you know is employed by a small business, not a huge corporation, are fairly high! I thought that was interesting because I did not actually ever belong to that statistic in employment, I have, since my first job, always worked for medium and large scale businesses. I did my time in a movie theatre, then in a restaurant, then into retail while I was in school and was fortunate enough to land a "big girl" job at Air Canada just after I graduated. To list the things I learnt in this role would be a whole other blog post. I was promoted to manager when I was 20 years old and have since hopped along Garda security, a large private security company, and finally to the bright shiny world of Down Town Calgary to PwC Canada the worlds largest professional service firm (yea, I was super intimidated too), which would turn out to be the last time I was someone else's employee.
A short 7 months into employment, we learnt we were pregnant with our second little angel and so I went on maternity leave in April 2014. With 2 little girls at home, my days were filled with yoga pants and spit up and I wouldn't have had it any other way. The time (as any of you parents can attest) seems to sometimes crawl during those sleepless nights or endless crying fits, but when you look back, you realise just how fast those moments actually did go by. In January, almost by fluke, I discovered that a hobby I had had for awhile (meal planning) was actually something people were looking for help with. So I started a very tiny, online meal planning business where I developed health conscious meal plans, grocery lists and put together a tidy little document with recipes for subscribers. I was actually pretty surprised how many people supported (and paid!) me with my little venture of Mama Bird Meal Planning (shout out to you fine folks that were part of that chapter!) but the most common feedback I got was this; "Love the look of everything, it makes things much easier, but I still don't have the time to do the grocery shop, prep and cook these meals" Alas, wasn't a lot I could do about that, I certainly had next to no time myself, with 2 littles at home it was a miracle if I got dressed each day. So I kept plugging along with my then over 200 subscribers (I know right, I was surprised to!)
I was getting my head around heading back to work in January 2015, figuring out what we were going to do for childcare, planning pick ups and drop offs etc, making my way through the days as usual. Things got very unusual, and definitely not in a good way. My mom, who had been experiencing what she thought to be muscle strain in her abdomen was sent to have an ultrasound. The results came back not a strain at all, but what we would soon learn was stage 4 pancreatic cancer. First, what the hell was a pancreas even for again? Why was this seemingly insignificant organ responsible for this pain and life altering diagnosis? second, what did this mean? After seeing SO MANY people in my family diagnosed with various forms of this disease, this was territory we hadn't experienced yet.
Early 2015 was a grief filled, confusing, emotional whirlwind while we learnt that mom's prognosis was about as bleak as they come (6 months to 1 year typically with the most aggressive chemo cocktail they could drum up) which was very hard to hear. I immediately gave notice at work that I would not be returning thinking I needed to spend as much time with her as possible, and needed to be able to be there for her while she went through this. I know my imitations, and working long days with a 1 hour comute each way, while raising two babies and trying to be a wife and be there for my mom wasn't something I could hadle all of. However dear friends, in true form for my ass kicker of a mother, we are now almost 2 years since diagnosis, and she's the ROCK STAR of her doctors patients, doing likely better now than she was in the months leading up to her diagnosis. She gets some vile, horribly toxic but magical chemicals pumped through her every 3 weeks on the dot and she does it with grace, strength and a positive attitude (some days I really don't know how that would be possible) and I am so blessed to call her my business partner today. Love you mommy! xoxox
So we slowly migrated back to a bit of normalcy since mom was kicking ass and taking names. Now, I was in a position of not having a job. Humm what will I do with my life? After talking with a dear friend and at the time savoir for giving me work as a real estate assistant, the ever fabulous Melissa Kost urged me to look into a meal assembly service. Since I was already doing bulk meal prep for myself and was still running my meal planning business, it made sense, and thank goodness she is such an outside the box thinker and motivator, because it was exactly the catalyst I needed to step back and say "hey, I love doing this, people need this here, I love to help people, good thing you have smart women around you because you have been blind to this opportunity" so, listening to the universe (and my wise friend) I started looking into what this business needed to look like. for 8 months I worked on my business plan and was really starting to realise I COULD do this! In August 2015 the perfect little venue went on the market. Now this is a LONG and disappointing part in the story that I won't tell, mainly because it taught me a lot of lessons in business and personally and that was all it was meant to do in my journey. I don't believe in putting negativity into the universe, so I won't speak ill of the process or people involved, I will only say I can see clearly now that everything that happened, happened for a reason.
I was discouraged by the events that dragged on till March of 2016 and to be honest, I was demotivated and deflated. However, in true karmic fashion, I was accepted into the Airdrie SMARTstart business program, which was a godsend and exactly the motivation I needed to re focus. If you are a fellow entrepreneur readying this and you live in the great little city of Airdrie, you NEED to check this program out. I started seminars, was assigned online coursework and was paired up with an amazing local successful entrepreneur, Jacqui Jepson of The Pink Wand Cleaning Company. Once again, to list the lessons I have taken with me as a direct result of SMARTstart would take another post.
I continued to finish my business plan in August 2016 when coincidentally a property came available that was a great fit for me, and my business plan. With the help of another amazing realtor in Airdrie Elllisa Podemski we submitted an offer to purchase assets and a lease offer...which was accepted! HOLY $HIT! Things got real REALLY quick! Now here we are in October, we take possession next month and I think I'm lucky to be getting 5 hours of sleep a night at this point. But you know what, I wouldn't have it any other way. Here's where we will be! (remember, our sign isn't up yet...visualise people, visualise)
I started on this journey for a few reasons, the first was to help people like me, that were exhausted and doing their level best, to create food that was yummy. After my moms diagnosis, I became acutely aware that food not only had to be good and quick, it had to benefit your body and soul. We have but this one vessel to carry us through, we should all treat our bodies with respect, love and gratitude....what better way to do that than through what we eat? And my last mission with Social Supper is to create a space where lasting connections are made, where people can spend time with someone they love, while removing the guilt that they should be doing something else to make their week ahead easier. You CAN do both.
The lessons dear friends are the key to this post.
- Never give up, never settle for less than you are made of
- Listen to your gut, seek advice and be true to what you know in your heart is right
- Listen to the things the universe is telling you, and never be afraid to try something new
- You cannot be an expert in everything, but if you can be an expert in anything, expertly surround yourself with people who are brilliant at what they themselves are experts in
- Failure is not a negative thing, learn the lesson and move on
Finally lovelies, the best view comes after the hardest climb. Take that personally or in business, nothing worth doing comes easily and without challenges. Every challenge has taught me a lesson, and I hope I am better for it. I am THRILLED OUT OF MY SNEAKERS to announce that Social Supper will open it's doors in December 2016 ready to make the lives of Airdrie (and surrounding areas) a little easier. We cannot wait to have you in.
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If you are someone who wants to connect just to chat, ask questions about starting a small business (not that I'm an expert!) or exchange funny memes (especially to exchange funny memes), please email me anytime at email@example.com.
Until next time (which may be awhile since as noted, blogging = not really my thing) be kind, spread love, and eat lots of good food you fabulous things,
- Kaidy Morgan