Women Entrepreneurs on the March

This past week I received a really nice e mail from someone who said that my story inspired her.  She’s also trying to run a business from home, and asked for some pointers.  As well, another woman  phoned me this week, asking to be connected to my mentor Prerna Chandak, who was found for me by CBC Radio.

When you’re self-employed, it’s really hard to know what to do.  I had to figure all of it out myself, though had lots of advice from great people along the way.  Some of them were friends with common sense.  For example, Alison suggested that I use mini loaf pans instead of my insane method of cutting bars from a pan.

Tracey from Discover Wines was my first store owner, so she helped me set a wholesale price.  The nice man at the kitchen supply store told me to use a food processor to chop the dried fruit, rather than using shears.  The owner of an on-line gift supplier to conferences suggested that I use a commercial sealing machine.

So here I am, armed to the teeth with advice and fruitcakes.  I’m ready to sell like a water vendor at a flea market in the Gobi desert.  My goal for the upcoming week is to market the hell out of myself, even if it kills me.  As I’ve whined many times before, it is one of the hardest things one has to do.

I met Monika, the owner/baker of Okanagan Grocery, and saw her production area in the back.  She was in the midst of making jam, and gave me a jar of her delicious quince and lavender.  Of course I had to buy a loaf of the chocolate bread, and you can imagine what happened that evening at home.

Monika was pleased to see that I had my little signs all nicely laminated and ready for her to display along with my fruitcakes.  It was so adorable when I arrived, as I walked in the front, holding a case of fruitcakes, and said to the startled girl who works there, “I’ve got some fruitcakes here, ordered by Monika.”

She did the typical nose wrinkle and said, “Fruitcakes? Uh, you’d better go and find Monika in the back.”  Once I’d returned to the front with Monika, she and I both teased the girl for being the prototypical fruitcake customer.  Yet, once she tries it and likes it, I know she’ll be able to sell to everyone entering the store.

I made 56 fruitcakes today, and it wasn’t easy.  On Friday at the end of a gruelling one-hour cardio class, the instructor had us squat.  Ostensibly she wanted us to stretch our Achilles tendons, but once I was way down there in the squat I wondered to myself, “will I ever be able to stand up again?”

Fortunately, I did manage to get up, but have since had a stiff, swollen knee that hurts like the dickens whenever I walk downstairs.  As the kitchen is downstairs, and people require my attention upstairs every two minutes, it’s been another test of my entrepreneurial mettle.

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