July 25, 2016

The Emotional Roller Coaster Of Entrepreneurship (PODCAST)

emotion entrepreneurStarting a new business is always a little bit excitement mixed with a little bit of fear.  Thembi Johnson, the founder of Tasty Tin, talks about her experience transitioning from a full-time job to becoming a full-time food entrepreneurs and some of the emotional challenges that she’s overcome along the way.


Jennifer: Hi. Welcome to the SmallFoodBiz.com podcast. I’m Jennifer Lewis and in this podcast series we’re focusing on the issues that entrepreneurs face and the questions you have as you work to accelerate your business’s growth. Today we’re talking to Thembi Johnson, she’s the founder and chief recipe tester for Tasty Tin, a monthly subscription mail order box, geared towards people learning to cook and those wanting to expand their knowledge in the kitchen and have fun in an informative way. Each themed box contains gadgets that many home and professional cooks use to make cooking easier, especially chosen recipes that highlight the gadgets used, the dry ingredients and seasoning packages and the specialty food item that follows the theme. Before starting Tasty Tin, Thembi worked as a fish monger in a sea food market owner and caterer. She currently spends most of her time researching, testing, and developing recipes.


For local clients, she’s also a private chef. In what little spare time she has left, she’s a volunteer who teaches teens how to cook to help transition them out of foster care. Thembi thanks so much for joining us, really appreciate your willingness to share your experiences and background with our listeners, so thank you.


Thembi: Of course I’m happy to share my story whenever I can.


Jennifer: Before we start talking about your current entrepreneurial journey, I’d love it if you could share a little bit with our audience about your background and how you ended up where you are today. I know that’s a loaded question but it’s usually where most people want to start.


Thembi: Yeah. By trade my background is actually in Computer Science that’s what I went to school for, and I spent the last 17 or 18 years in the IT field, and as of April I was a director by T4A PR firm in Atlanta. It’s my nine to five personally, but I have been interested in food probably my whole life. I’ve been cooking since I was about five or six, and food had always been kind of a central force in my life. At first I didn’t do anything official with it, it wasn’t until right after I got married that my mum had made a comment that there were no fish markets around her and I thought, “Oh, I could do that,” so I quit my job and six months later I opened a fish market. I did that for a few years, I sold retail and I sold wholesale and started to cater on the side because people were like, “Oh, can you make me a platter or can you cater this party with the food from your fish market?”


That sort of thing, so I kind of got into catering from that perspective. I also sold to people online because a lot of my customers were not local and liked things like my crab cakes and my [inaudible 02:55], things that I could ship pretty easily. I also did that, I did that for a few years and then my husband’s job moved us about 1000 miles away so I had to close my business and I fell back on to my security blanket of IT and did that for a while. That was during the time I lived in Connecticut and then we moved to Texas. That was about six years span where each location I kept trying to get back into the food industry, like I would start a new business plan and try and figure out where I could at least do it as a hobby type thing. I mean I always cooked for friends and hosted parties but I wanted it to be more of my life, and each time I would hone in on an idea and start trying to pan it out, we’d up and move again.


It became kind of a cat and mouse game of how quickly can I get an idea to push and before my husband said, “Hey, we’re moving,” and then we moved back to Atlanta, that’s where we are now, after having our daughter and I knew Atlanta was going to be our final stop again and of course I don’t know when he’s going to say again, “Oh, let’s move,” so it was very important for me to find something that was going to be mobile. I realized that the answers to my problem was mobility, only the fish market requires you to be in that location and to be there a long term. Cooking for people in a restaurant setting again requires you to be there so that wasn’t matching up with my husband, so I had to take what he was giving me as a life, and what we chose as our lives together to balance out with what I needed to do passion-wise.


Since food is my passion, that’s where Tasty Tin comes in, it allows me to be mobile so if he says tomorrow, “Hey, we’re going to up and move across the country,” I can actually still run my business pretty much the same way I did here. That’s the history of getting me to Tasty Tin but I’ve been in and out of the food industry for a little while and as much as it is hard, I love it.


Jennifer: The point that you bring up about kind of almost taking stock of your entire life and then developing the business model around that, is such a smart one, I know that personally having talked to a lot of entrepreneurs often times they’ll have a tremendous amount of passion and skill and expertise in a certain area but what it is that they want to do for example just doesn’t match up with the rest of their life. They find themselves constantly struggling between let’s say family and work more than the normal family versus work struggle so how they can go through that process on your own and figuring out, “I need something that can be mobile, somewhat flexible, and then crafting a business model around that, is a great way to have approached that problem, versus approaching it from the other way and then trying to figure out how to move your business.


Thembi: Yeah. Exactly, because I tried that before so when I had the fish market I knew we weren’t going to be where we were long term but I had thought my parents still live in that town so theoretically in my head I thought, “Well, my parents still live there, I could still have a base there, I could still get some employees, figure out how to work in it,” like you said it just became a little bit too difficult with my lifestyle. As much as it sounded great on paper and in my head, it didn’t make much sense when I actually tried to do it. Trust me, just like everybody else I’ve done that and one thing I can say about myself is I do learn from my mistakes so that was a mistake for me, because one, I made constant hands on, I mean the idea comes from me so how it gets implemented needs to come from me until it’s steady enough on it’s seat that I could hand it over to someone, and trust that they’ll continue going in the way that we originally planned.


I didn’t have the fish market long enough to leave it in the hands of somebody or to sell it off, it was not ready to be transitioned out of my control just yet so I had to just close it down. When we got back to Atlanta, I didn’t want to move back to Atlanta, we lived here, I went to college here, we had already lived here but my husband is very attached to this city so it was a kind of compromise at the time in our lives that we made a decision. While I got my first job back in Atlanta and I was talking to a friend and I kept saying, “We’re going to live here but I cannot be around food,” and I was like what the heck I’m I going to do? The first idea was a food truck and I think we had talked about a food truck when I was in Texas but even the food truck even though it’s mobile, I think the food truck is only mobile within like a city limit.


You don’t hear about food trucks driving all across the country and being successful. Now, you might see food trucks that have multiple trucks in location but I definitely wasn’t there yet. Even though food truck is mobile and a lot of people did suggest, “Oh, just open a food truck, you can be mobile,” and I was like well, that’s not the kind of mobility I need. I need to be able to literally move 2000 miles away and still be able to run the business without losing customers, without losing contacts, all that. Especially in the food industry, it takes a ton of work to find contacts that are trustworthy, that will work with you within your budget and the way your business has to work, it’s just too hard to do brand new every few months, so I needed something that was truly mobile and still completely on my shoulders. Again until I could get to a point where it could be handed over when necessary.


Jennifer: In addition to the mobile piece as you were thinking about what this next food business was going to be, in addition to the mobile component, what other pieces went through your thought process or what was that “Aha” moment or inspiration in helping you realize that Tasty Tin really was the best fit for your life, your skills and background, your passion for what you want to create in this world?


Thembi: Well. Yeah. I did actually have a “Aha” moment it was actually like, “Oh, my gosh,” moment at the same. This was the first job when I moved back to Atlanta, and I’m standing there talking to some of my co-workers and it was a pretty young office in grand scheme of things. The person who ran that office wasn’t even over 40 yet and there were few people over 40 but the majority of the people who worked there were in their 20s. Then there were few people like me, I’m in my 30s who were around my age, so it was a small group of people with younger average age there. We were just talking about, I don’t know if we were talking about restaurants or somehow we were talking about food and a girlfriend of mine and I were talking about making fried rice. Fried rice was one of those recipes that I was afraid to make for a long time, you know you get used to eating fried rice you go like, “Oh, I can’t make that.”


You watch people make fried rice and you’re like they’re masters at the wok, and so we were talking about a wok and one of the girls there she had to be about 22 years old, she says, “What’s a wok?” I’m like, “What? What do you mean what is a wok?” A wok, you know a wok. Me and my friend we were looking at each other like she really doesn’t know what a wok is then she ran to the other 20 year old, they were about 22, 24, somewhere in that age range, and none of them knew what a wok was. I was just like, “Oh my God, what do you mean you don’t know what a wok is and it made me remember a time when I lived in Dallas, I want to say it was my first year living in Dallas, we knew one other couple in Dallas. We moved to Texas without really knowing anybody except this one couple and they had four kids and it was Thanksgiving time, I’m a very traditionalist when it comes to how it is, it’s all about food and family.


All my family’s on the east coast or at least most of them are, so we were away from family and my husband works in retail so he has to work Black Friday which is usually can’t travel or Thanksgiving so we were stuck in Dallas for Thanksgiving and the couple that we knew was like we should do Thanksgiving together and I’m like, “Oh, that’s great.” The woman said, “Well how about we have it at my house,” because we were living in an apartment, they had a house and a lot more space, she was like, “I will provide the location if you cook all the food.” I knew she wasn’t a big cooker so I was like, “Okay, that’s fine,” and I assumed it was her family and my family. Then lo and behold, she invited I want to say it was 22 people? It ended up being a dinner, and so I’m cooking and I literally have to bring all my kitchen stuff because she does not cook, she had salt and pepper in her pantry and that was it.


She didn’t have enough pans and she just was not prepared to feed 22 people so I ended up lagging totes of my pantry to her house to make this meal, so I’m cooking there, and I’m the only one cooking, there were one, two, three, four other women who literally just sat there and watched me cook. They would ask me questions like, “Why did you do that?” Or, “Why you cutting the sweet potatoes that way?” Or somebody said, “What’s a clove of garlic?” At the time I was so stressed because I’m trying to get 22 on the table in my own kitchen and all these people are barging me with questions but at the time the whole wok situation it took me back to that. I was thinking wow, I actually know people who don’t know what I consider the basics, and it’s nothing against anybody, I just did not realize that a lot of the information in my head wasn’t as well known as I assumed.


I just assumed I know what everybody else knows like I don’t know anything special, I don’t think I know more than anybody else, I don’t think I’m better or smarter than anyone, so these little snippets of people asking for advice from me when I’m cooking and I’m thinking everybody knows these things was just like, “Wow, I wonder if there are more people in America who just don’t know what a clove of garlic is, who just don’t know how to de-vein a shrimp, who don’t know why baking is such a precise thing, you can’t just wing it when you bake, you need to level off flour,” I was like, “Are there more people out there?” So I started to ask and people were like, “Yeah I just throw chicken breast in a pan and that’s it, or I eat cereal everyday or I go to whole foods and pick up a salad or something,” and I’m thinking, “Wow.” That was my “Aha” moment, the wok part was the “Aha” moment that made me realize that I had been thinking of this even subconsciously for a long time.


It just never dawned on me, that’s how Tasty Tin kind of came about was how could I share my knowledge with as many people as possible and you didn’t have to be beside me. The ideas that anybody in the country, right now we can only ship to the United States but anywhere in the country could figure out these tips in a way that makes sense. Some people will get a recipe or you’ll see something on TV and go, “I want to make that,” and so you go Google it and you can get all the information but it’s always one dimensional, and I wanted to provide a way where you could be surrounded by the information in a way. In our boxes you get a kitchen tool, you get a recipe where you actually use that specific kitchen tool, you get the seasoning for that recipe, you get the tips that help you for this recipe so you learn four or five different things all based on one recipe or one theme so that you can expand your knowledge in a wider way than just like looking at one specific thing on Google.


I wanted to always bombard you with everything so you can keep practicing, you get enough spices, you get enough salt to do 20 or 30 recipes so you can try the potato recipe over and over again until you get it right. It’s not a one time thing, it’s something to help build your pantry, to help build your culinary toolbox, to build your knowledge base grow on top of each other so that’s where Tasty Tin came in. Every time I cook, every time I go food shopping, I’m asked questions, it’s really interesting I don’t wear anything that makes anybody think I know what I’m talking about but people just naturally gravitate towards me and ask me questions every time I go shopping. It’s just the weirdest phenomenon so I figured, how can I do that? How can I share that? I mean I it I like to share the information, it’s so much fun I’m always ready to talk about food so if somebody wants to talk about it with me hey let’s go.


To be honest it wouldn’t be my main pick for a business in the food industry, I’d much rather do something else but I find that this kind of like you said it fits into my life, where I am right now, I’m balancing my family and my passion. It answers the question, it keeps in the food industry and talking to other food professionals and people who want to know food and people who just enjoy eating. It fits where I need it to fit at this moment in my life.


Jennifer: I think that’s a really good point to bring up is that it fits where it needs to fit at this moment in my life and it doesn’t mean that the business can’t grow, or change or morph in the future as your life changes, but sometimes we have to absolutely just look at where we are today and honestly make the best of the situation.


Thembi: Yeah. That’s what it is I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m no less passionate about it but when we talked I guess it was somewhere between three to five years ago, this was not even a thought in my head. The thought in my head at the time was to open some kind of restaurant or food truck and you know that’s still a goal one day, this just was birthed because of the time in my life that I’m in and that’s it. I do enjoy it, I mean it’s fun, I’m totally interested in it but I did have to be open to not having my original plan play out to fruition and that’s a little hard to accept. You have an idea and you’re like, “This is what I’m going to do, this is what’s going to make me happy,” and then my life interferes.


Jennifer: I want to make sure that people know that it’s not like, “Tasty Tin just started up on a whim,” because you decided to cut loose your safety net of your other job when you started Tasty Tin, you went all in on this.


Thembi: Yeah no. This is totally not a whim like you said my thought is this will morph into something bigger, it may be different, I don’t know but I’m willing to just go with the flow and not be hooked up to a plan anymore. For the last 17 years like I said being in IT, IT pays pretty well, I’ve never been able not to find a job, I’ve been lucky in that you know whenever I needed to find a job, I could find a job within a few weeks and I could usually get more than what I desired in salary. The problem was allowing it to be a security blanket for me always meant I didn’t have the ingenuity to kind of go where things went so something that happened or something didn’t work out the way I needed it to, I could just say, “Oh forget it I’ll just go get a job until yada yada.” Or, “Well, it’s okay, I’ll just close down the store, I’ll just go back into IT, save up some money or figure out what I want to do.”


By not having a security blanket or that security net, I have to figure out the problem and go past it, I have to grow beyond it, I have to get better, I have to make a change for the positive and not just quit. That was a problem for me and I sat down with my husband one day and especially when I realized that IT was just stressing me out, I don’t mind what somebody might call a dumb question when it comes to food, somebody saying, “Why can’t I just use vegetable oil in place of extra virgin oil?” I had that question one time. Some people might think that’s a dumb question, I don’t think it’s a dumb question, and so I don’t mind talking about that. IT-wise, I got sick of those questions and I would just come home, I’d not be happy, I have a toddler and she wants to play with mummy and we want to engage her in more happier thoughts and less stress and things like that.


It just wasn’t working for me and so I sat down with my husband and I said, “Okay, I am ready to retire from IT and I need you to understand that by retire I mean I’m not going back. This is it, this security net, this monetary job, I can’t do it anymore and I want to fully invest in food. That’s what I need to be, that’s what I see myself in 20, 30, 40 years still doing, I don’t see myself doing IT and so this is the day and this is the business. I’m throwing all my cards on the table, I’m jumping in with all feet, are you okay with it?” No, he wasn’t.


Jennifer: I was going to ask that was my next question.


Thembi: I’ll tell you what, he was not at all. For you listeners please understand I totally get it, I totally understand his fears and his worries and his stresses, we’ve been together for 14 years. I knew exactly what he was going to say when I said it but I also explained that, “We’ve been together for 14 years, you know what pushes my buttons where things start to interfere with our personal lives, you know me and you know what I’m saying is true.” We talked about previous attempts in the food industry and previous times when I didn’t do anything food related and how that affected us as a couple and how it might affect us as parents, things like that. It took a good long while. I probably prepared him I want to say a year and a half before I finally cut the cord. That’s when we first started talking about it, I didn’t do … and the thing with my husband is you can’t just spring it on him and just go.


That’s me, I can totally just take something and run with it but he’s like a seed, you have to plant the seed, water it, let it cultivate, let it grow slowly, trim back some extra leaves, gather some more, you’ve got to give it time. We did and I said I’m not going to quit immediately but I will come to you in a relatively short amount of time and say this is the beginning of the end. We had that conversation in January and then I put in my notice in February and by April I said goodbye to IT forever and so I’ve been out of that for the last two months and I feel a thousand times better. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stressed for other reasons but I’m willing to deal with those stresses and we talk about it and we think about it differently, but Tasty Tin it’s my moon shot as someone said to me one time.


It’s my moon shot, it’s me going for it all and I’m going to make it work, I’ve got no other choice but to make it succeed and that’s what quitting IT did for me. It gives me no other option but to succeed. Somehow, someway, it might not be the way it’s working today but it will succeed.


Jennifer: Yeah. I love that, force your hand.


Thembi: Yeah. Exactly.


Jennifer: Forcing you to succeed.


Thembi: Yes. I can’t do it and my husband won’t have it any other way so I want to see me doing something that I love to do and she saw me coming home from IT and you could just tell I didn’t like it, everybody knew I didn’t like it. I was good at it but everybody could tell I wasn’t happy with it, my co-workers, my husband, every body knew that. That was also important, trying to do this legacy type thing.


Jennifer: Let me ask you this because when you wrote in I think this is just going to touch on what we’re talking about, when you wrote in to me about being interviewed for this podcast series, you mentioned a phrase that absolutely still to this day resonates with me. What you wrote was that as entrepreneurs just because you don’t know how to swim doesn’t mean you won’t drown, what brought this idea?


Thembi: I was talking to other parents about swim lessons for our kids and my daughter who has been in swim lessons since she was about six months so technically she knows how to swim, but if you put her in the water today she acts like she doesn’t. I took that to mean I know how to swim, I’m a pretty decent swimmer. However, if you throw me in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, the likelihood of me drowning is pretty high so just because I know how to swim doesn’t mean I won’t drown, but you do whatever you can to help prevent you from drowning. You either getting better at swimming or you wear a life vest on a boat you know you arm yourself with the tools to do the best you absolutely can but it doesn’t mean that you’re 100% certain of not drowning. That’s what I had to realize, that if I try to wait for everything to be perfect, nothing would happen and that’s what I was doing, I kept telling myself I’ve got to perfect my website, I’ve got to perfect this, no.


Just because I perfect everything doesn’t mean it’s not going to fail, it just means I wasted a lot of time and again that was another excuse for me and I had to stop doing that. I read a quote that said, this was in reference to monthly subscription boxes, if you’re first box sent was perfect, then you waited too long to launch and that’s what I had to keep telling myself that, I know how to swim, it doesn’t mean I won’t drown but I’m going to do my best and I’m going to do whatever is possible to try and prevent that from happening. It’s scary because you have to release some measure of control and for a lot of people that’s hard to do, I know for me that’s very hard to do but I find that things happen when I do that and those little successes make me the happier, I’m like, “I didn’t do that perfect but look, somebody still liked it or it still worked,” it’s a little frightening but …


Jennifer: You know not doing things perfectly too, I was actually talking to somebody about this but not doing something perfectly also leaves you open to accepting customer feedback because you know it wasn’t perfect and I’m coming out of this like a total type A perfectionist, but as I said it leaves you open to listening to customer feedback versus if you send things out and you’re like this is perfect. Then the customer feedback you would get would seem like criticism versus if you send it out and you’re like I did my very best with where I am right now and I want to continue to improve. Then the customer feedback you get you take as ideas on how you can improve the product, the box, whatever it is that you’re working on.


Thembi: Exactly. Feedback is a nice way of saying, well for I think an entrepreneur, you hear feedback you think criticism always. I just imagine that if I give customers the ability to tell me what they think, that I’m just going to hear negative stuff and I had to turn that off too because sometimes it’s positive. More often than not it is positive and that was a little hard to prepare myself for but I sent out test boxes and that was my way of opening that door. I sent out multiple designs and said, “Hey, what do you think,” and I wasn’t going to be mad, I told myself I’m not going to be mad with whatever they say because I’m not attached to any one of thing. They’re just giving me their opinion and that allowed me to be open to someone else’s suggestion and one of my friends, she’s a designer, I sent her a test box to look at it from a designer perspective, she made a comment about it just off the fly and because she made the comment I went back to a vendor and asked if they could change something.


They changed it for free, and it wouldn’t have even dawned on me to ask if I had not sent her a test box and was willing to hear what she had to say from a design standpoint. I was so excited to find out that they would do it for free I was like, “Oh my God, do other people know they’ll do this, this is crazy.” It was huge and it was nothing but to ask but I would have never asked. Then what I did after I sent out my survey after my test boxes, so sent out really short five to seven type phone survey that they could just do on their phone real quick after people get a box. It was one little lunch, it didn’t even make it that big of a deal, I think this would be better if you blah blah. I said yeah, oh yes. I am now not so scared of feedback, it’s really what it is but I think it takes a minute to be willing to just open yourself up to what could be criticism because people couldn’t come back and say negative things.


You’ve got to take it. Nobody’s going to love everything you do and that was something my mum always taught me. Not everybody is going to like you and that’s okay. You don’t have to like everybody so move on.


Jennifer: It can still be hard sometimes because the product you’re sending out, that’s your baby, that’s a piece of you so it’s so hard. Speaking about the hard piece so being an entrepreneur it’s great, we were talking about you have control, you make decisions, but it can also be lonely and scary or frustrating when you do get something that feels more like criticism versus feedback when you’re the only person who’s really at the helm of this business. How do handle that piece of it [inaudible 31:32]?


Thembi: That’s the part I’m working on because one of the things I’ve noticed especially since quitting my job is a lot lonelier. When I had my job I could go into work and dump on my friends there and say we could chat, we could go to lunch, it was forced interaction so to speak, so it wasn’t so lonely. Now that I don’t work and I don’t see those people everyday and they don’t come into my office, it is way lonelier and reminds me of previous, especially living in Texas it was lonely there too. It’s hard because … I love quotes if you can, very into quotes there, very motivational for me. Someone was saying it’s always depressing when again you’re behind the scenes with someone’s highlight reel, they’re referring to Facebook and stuff and the depression that goes along with that, that jealousy kick that goes in, so when you’re running you’re own business and it’s a one man or one woman show, all you see are your back stage stuff and nobody else is sharing that with you.


It’s hard because of course especially social media are using someone’s highlight reel and you think they have it easier than you, that they are not, it stresses you, it kind of puts you even farther into this lonely bubble and it’s hard to break out of it because I think it’s a little bit of people are, I don’t know if they’re embarrassed but they don’t want other people to know how hard it is. People don’t want to talk about it, it’s like a taboo subject and I get it, like I said before we started chatting, I’m pretty much intp books so if you want to ask me anything, I talk about the good and the bad when it comes to relationships I tell people the truth about my husband and I when we had issues, what we did to deal with it, I tell them the truth. I had trouble getting pregnant with my daughter and I talk about all of that because I feel like if people would be a little more open you would be able to connect with people.


Maybe you can help somebody. I remember when I first quit the job I started sending out emails to people who I thought had shown some interest and were kind of in the same field. I tried to ask them leading questions to see if we could connect and help each other out. I find that I get very little response from people and I don’t know why. Obviously it could be they just don’t like me and that’s totally fine but I do think a little bit is people are embarrassed to say I’m struggling, people are embarrassed to say I’m on my last dime and we’re having trouble paying the bills or I’ve been trying to sell this product for six months and I’ve only sold it to five family members. I think people are embarrassed to admit that things aren’t going perfect and they put themselves into this lonely bubble. It can be lonely sharing our true self, what’s truly going on.


I want your listeners and the listeners of other podcasts done to let them know that hey, there are plenty of us out there who are struggling to make this work, who are putting all of our hopes and dreams into our businesses and we’re willing to share, but especially if you’re not dealing in social media it becomes a lonely world locally. You’ve got to step out of your comfort zone that’s why I started to do the volunteer thing. It didn’t even dawn on me to do it although it’s exactly what I said [inaudible 35:30] is about but a friend of mine mentioned it and I was like, “Oh, I should do that,” but it wasn’t a part of the original plan, never even crossed my mind but I don’t where it will lead but it opens up my circle a little bit more and that’s what is important for me right now. I have all these ideas and I have all these plans but again we don’t know what things will morph into if we aren’t open to the change in another time.


That’s my goal right now, to try and build that circle so that I’m not so lonely, so it’s not just me and I’m …


Jennifer: I’ll tell you I really appreciate you sharing that because I think you were right on that especially on social media and I love the highlight reel phrase but even if you meet somebody like a backyard barbecue, they’re just going to tell you the really happy, good stuff, and I wrote on the small feed business site not too long ago about an entrepreneur I know who committed suicide …


Thembi: Yes. I also read that.


Jennifer: To be upfront, I have no idea if it was about his business is his decision but just the idea like nobody had the idea how hard he was struggling and you’re right. If some of us can come out because entrepreneurship is bloody lonely, there are times when it is the highest of highs and there is a time where it’s lowest of low. I don’t think until you get into it you really understand that, so it’s finding that circle which is hard. I know that I still work at finding that circle which is very interesting. On that note, can you tell us a little bit about where Tasty Tin is today? We’ve been talking a lot about like okay let’s focus on where we are in the moment, and I believe some of the future open unfolding as it will but where Tasty Tin is today and how are you as an entrepreneur?


Thembi: Okay. Tasty Tin right now has shipped their first box, that was exciting and nerve wrecking and stressful in and of itself and that was the goal for me. Like I said previously, I always used IT as a way to convince myself I didn’t have to follow through with something because I could always get another job and I told myself, I remember somebody was like, I read a quote of course, “What would you do if you couldn’t fail,” or something like that. In my head I was like I just need to send this first box, if I just send the first box it will feel complete enough to allow me to send the next box. Tasty Tin has shipped their first box and we have some subscribers, which is exciting, can’t lie some of them are family and I love them for it but they are also my ambassadors because those are the people who will tell others he look at this. Or they will give it as a gift and say I think this will work for you.


That’s kind of what I’m feeding off and I’ve been hoping it will happen because I think that’s going to be a more organic way to get my name out there. We have shipped our first box and we are on to the next one and this is my favorite time doing the recipe testing and figuring out products and tools and stuff like that. Again with my husband we’re still in Atalanta and we have plans that we may be moving in about a year but not right now so I’m still trying to scale it down to the point where no matter where we move or what kind of house we move into, I can easily work with what I’ve got. As an entrepreneur I’m just taking it day by day, I can’t do much more than that because I can’t get too far ahead of myself. In order to keep going it doesn’t matter how big of a step I take, as long as I take a step, I’m moving forward and to me that’s a success.


Before I would just stop and so everyday even if it’s the tiniest little thing like, some of my successes are just thinking like I literally just sit and think about what I want to do for next box or thinking how can I meet someone new on the food industry, or when’s going to be my next road trip? It’s clearly thinking can be a success and for me I’m taking those little successes and running with them because if you don’t find the success in every little thing you will get depressed really quickly because you’re like, “I’m not doing anything but everything I do is for my business and making it better and so even if it’s going on Instagram and finding someone follow who could potentially be a vendor or something like that, I literally take every little thing and make it a success these days so that’s where I am as an entrepreneur but it took a long time to get here.


Five years ago there’s no way I would have considered that a success.


Jennifer: I really appreciate that just so the listeners know I find that I’m talking to, in everybody we talk to in this podcast there’s always like one or two huge things that I personally take away, and I also have a toddler who is crazy and amazing and sucks so much time and energy. There are some days where as a type A entrepreneur I feel like I “got nothing done” or like there were no successes. Hearing you saying this I’m like okay, I just need to reevaluate what I consider success because otherwise you’re like I have done nothing this week that feels substantial in the business compared to honestly to my pre-parenting days. I’d never change, I’d I just struggle, I want the big successes and the awesome toddler, but I like that so yeah I need to reevaluate what I call a success.


Thembi: It took me a while, my daughter is four, so with my fish market, my mum made the comment about not having the fish market in her town in December. In January I quit my job, I opened my store in June. That was relatively fast to open up breaking water in an industry I had never been in. I knew nothing about the sea fish I loved to eat it but I didn’t know anything about it, and I knew nothing about opening a store. That’s pre-baby so when I think of how quickly I did that and how slowly it’s taken me to get Tasty Tin off the ground, I’m like, “Oh, my God, my brain is so much slower now,” but that’s one of the choices you make when you decide to start a family. I knew that so I stopped trying to beat myself up for something that was inevitable. What I realized was that every parent, mother or father has to deal with and it’s okay.


Sometimes me and my daughter we cook together and I look at that as a success because I know that I’m actually practicing the tips and thinking about what does she need to learn when she knows nothing about cooking and she’s a perfect test subject so to speak. I totally look at, we made jambalaya yesterday totally look at that as a positive. Now I know jambalaya is way too complicated for the recipe for me to be sending out to a new cook right now it’s just not an option, but how to chop an onion is very important and how to sprinkle in salt you know little things like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect at it, I have to stop myself, sometimes I beat myself up and I’m like you went a week and a half without doing anything like you didn’t even go to a computer. Then I think and I go no, I did something, I don’t know what I did but let me think about it. I’m sure I did something.


Jennifer: I’ll figure it out.


Thembi: Yeah exactly. It’s not perfect but that’s what I try and do, because if I just beat myself up and it’s the downhill slide after that and I can’t. That’s not success.


Jennifer: Well thank you so much. I really appreciate your [kindler 48:55]. I think it’s one of those things that hopefully a lot of listeners have been shaking their heads or nodding their heads in agreement as they listen to you share. Some of them are emotional sites because often times when we talk to entrepreneurs, we hear about the logistical , strategic business side of things but you don’t always hear about the emotional side and that’s a big component especially as a small entrepreneur so thank you for that.


Thembi: No problem. The logistics you can Google [inaudible 49:24] I mean I figured you can Google all of them.


Jennifer: That is very true, and so that all our listeners know also, there’ll be a link to the Tasty Tine website on the transcript page for today’s podcast so if you’d like to go check it out you’ll be able to find it there. Thembi thank you again, I really appreciate your help and your sharing your experiences and I’d like to have you back in the future and sort of see how things have gone. It would be interested to hear how that future does unfold of you.


Thembi: I would be happy to tell that story as well.


Jennifer: Perfect.


Thembi: I would be happy to share.


Jennifer: Thank you so much.


Thembi: Thank you. I appreciate it.


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