Ever since I opened the doors to the Center for Plant-based Living in August of 2019, the #1 question I receive is, "how do you plan on growing your business". Reminiscent of being a newlywed and fielding the question of "when are you having kids?"
Whoa, whoa WHOA!
I have big dreams and plans that are slowly formulating around growth, but I need some time to get comfortable in this new brick and mortar.
Adding CPBL locations is important for many, many reasons, even in this digital age, it is imperative. More on that some other time.
Providing a digital platform for our first in the country and at the date of this post, still the only plant-based nutrition and culinary education center, I understand, is also important. So important that is will become the backbone. I wanted time to perfect the physical space, to run that place with my eyes closed before I really dove into digitizing.
Nope. Too bad.
When the COVID-19 infiltrated our town, I had no choice but to shut the doors. I had 7 months open under my belt. Fear consumed me. Just like all my other fellow small business owner friends, I felt sucker punched and thrown into unknown territory. I created a video explaining the sudden closure. I then sat down and printed off the pending class rosters, and for two hours, proceeded to refund each and every class registrant. Little by little my bank account dwindled. I refunded nearly all of my bank account funds and it was (still is) on the brink to bleeding red. I know those little parenthesis indicating a negative balance are on their way.
I drove home dazed, in tears. Not really feeling defeated, but rather numb.
For a week I reeled- going down different possible business paths for fast money that still kept me true to my mission: A Plant On Every Plate, for STL Veg Girl and Educate | Inspire | Heal for Center for Plant-based Living. Mission driven coupled with fast money tactics don't work in this business. But, communication, empathy and service does. I dove into digital - truly uncharted territory for this analog gal. Scary, indeed. Like many, I am propelled by my mission and it really is the only thing that 1. does not confuse me and never will, no matter how unstable this world becomes, and 2. I know how to do.
When I was in the thick of building CPBL with my husband (we really did build most of the space), I recall several late nights of grouting tile, Googling prices, searching through YouTube to learn how to remove a seal haze, etc, etc. This, on top of getting 14 plumbing bids (no one wanted the job) and 5 electrician bids, I thought, what had I gotten myself into? Paying rent and bills on a space that had nothing coming in was new to this first-time brick+mortar owner and it nearly broke me. I budgeted for a 10 week build-out. It took 5 months. My head and my heart only said to keep going.
Those 5 months were very, very hard. I was stretched, challenged and doubted enough times to open the doors with a few bruises, but not enough to fake a smile. That was real. Over the past 7 months I have often thought about how all of those lessons will help me in the future - there has to be more than just learning how to do something. What muscles did I strengthen enough to get me though the next "oh shit" moments?
Now I know. Still with a that mission firmly in place, a thicker skin and a tad more confidence, my head and heart continuing to work in tandem, saying, "keep going", I will.
I don't really understand how video works, I'm really awful at lighting and the thought of editing gives me a headache, but, just as I needed this information and support 11 years ago after losing my dad to cancer and then being diagnosed shortly thereafter myself, I have to keep going.
CPBL's doors may be temporarily closed, but the need for learning how to add more plants to your plate has not ceased. As I clumsily enter the digital world with my plant-based content, I hope you'll join me. I have started a new project call the Plant-based Quarantine Cooking Show (PBQ Cooking Show) using minimal ingredients and offering tips/tricks all along the way. We will be broadcasting Wednesdays and Sundays at 2:00pm CST. Information on where to find us and to grab an advanced copy of the recipe (cook with us!) can be found on the website. I'm figuring all of this out along the way, please feel free to email me any feedback if you'd like.
In the mean time, I hope you remain well and I look forward to seeing you back in "the shop" soon.