In 2004 I designed an innovative kitchenware product. I’m not much of a chef, but I was hoping this idea I cooked up would appeal to the tastes of consumers looking for something fresh and hot to sink their teeth into. Working in the fashion industry for 20 years allowed me to source the materials and have my prototype made locally. After receiving feedback from various sources, I test marketed my sample on eBay, then made the decision to outsource the production overseas.
Dealing with foreign suppliers was not an easy task. Finding the factories to source the same high quality materials and reproduce the exact sample as mine was a challenge and I wasn’t prepared to compromise on the quality or integrity of my design. I eventually came to a dead end after encountering so many roadblocks that I made a detour and decided it wasn’t worth the time for me to continue on this same path of futility.
Eight years later, my family and I attended a Christmas musical at Broadway Church called the “Singing Christmas Tree”. During intermission they played a short inspirational film that gave me a wake-up call to get back on track and continue to pursue my vision of starting my own business. The short clip encouraged us to not allow our busy lives prevent us from pursuing our goals and fulfilling our dreams. Later that day I went into my crawl space and took out the prototype I had made. I said to myself that I would give the idea one last chance. I then visited a major kitchenware retailer and talked to the manager for her unbiased opinion. Her feedback encouraged me to continue to pursue this endeavor. This was the signal I was looking for and it gave me the green light to have the drive to continue on the road to success.
Being a stay-home parent didn’t allow me the luxury to manage all the day-to-day family responsibilities let alone manage a business while taking care of the monkey business. But I was determined. So for a year I got up early in the morning and stayed up late every day to raise the capital on my own to finance the project and then form my company. The following year I was able to source all the proper materials and trimmings and secure the best factory to manufacture my product exactly to specifications. Shortly afterwards I set up my own website and distribution through Amazon in Canada and the United States.
I learned that the degree and designations I achieved from various business schools didn’t teach me everything in life. The most valuable education subsequently came from being trained from the best school in the world – the School of Hard Knocks. Setting up your own business is no piece of cake. It was more like humble pie. The best lessons are learned from making mistakes. Along the way I discovered that you have to put in the effort and you can’t always rely on others to do it for you.