2018 turned out to be a pretty momentous year for me. It was the year I left my corporate job and launched headfirst into entrepreneurship. It was definitely a year of learning, with school in session every day as I navigated an interesting, confusing and challenging new world. It was a year that required massive investments of time and money, and a year of hoping it will all pay off. And it was a year of planning and waiting through the inevitable starts and stops. And speaking of waiting (as I have before), it's no secret that I expected Lassi & Spice to be open by now and thought we'd be hustling our way through the holidays. But unforeseen permitting delays this month slowed our roll a bit, leaving me with some extra time this month to look back.
When I do look back, I have to say that mostly what I feel is gratitude. From the moment that I first began to consider heading off on this adventure, I've been met with the most enthusiastic, generous and helpful gestures. With some risk that this sounds like a terrible Oscar speech for an award I'm far from winning, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on my people of the year. I'll start from the top:
- My husband, who gives me unconditional love and support. And by support, I don't mean just emotional. He applauded my decision to do this, has held down our household for the bulk of the year, and has never blinked as I dipped into our savings to build out the store. He is my connection to India and at all times my cultural consultant. But even more importantly he is there believing I can do this, even during those moments I'm not so sure. Marriage is a long and winding path, and I couldn't ask for a better partner.
- My kids, who have weathered the changes this year has brought, when we all made some sacrifices. They were the first to taste many, many variations of lassi recipes (some that required a thorough palate cleansing after). They are my chief brand ambassadors, covering their water bottles with L&S stickers, helped host tastings and pop-ups, stamping pastry bags. Lately they schlep many pounds of deliveries in and out of the house, and are spending their winter break at the store dodging the trades working overhead while they help unpack boxes and assemble furniture. Despite the work, I hope they remember this time and smile, and know anything is possible.
- My former employer, Starbucks, which I find myself admiring more and more now that I'm on the outside. Yes, I left them firmly rooted in their model of doing well by doing good. But beyond the soft touch, Starbucks really in an efficient retail machine! They've opened a thousand stores in the time it's taken me to open one. Their operational standards, training and customer service are world class. I am grateful I got to see it all up close.
- My amazingly talented circle of friends and family who graciously lend their skills, whether they have an eye for interior design, operational expertise, culinary chops or deep, deep knowledge of Seattle's employment laws. These people have made Lassi & Spice better than I ever could have alone. How could I ever repay the types of friends who text to say "Bad news is that I got laid off yesterday. Good news is that now I have all the time in the world to help you!" Only by trying to be that kind of friend myself.
- The incredible professionals who, through word of mouth and my sheer dumb luck, I found and somehow convinced to work with me. I've benefited so tremendously from their expertise and creativity in fields I could never dream of totally understanding. The store literally wouldn't exist without the talents of my realtor, my architect and my general contractor. And I'm thankful daily for the long haul partners I've found in my attorney and accountant. I promise I will never make them go to prison for me! #NoFixerNeeded
- And finally, last but not remotely least: my network of mentors. There is nothing more valuable to a fledgling entrepreneur than advice and encouragement from successful business owners a few stages ahead. Whether it was early-early encouragement from restaurateurs, tough love from my SBA Advisor or sit down coffees with founders of some of Seattle's most respected local companies, it has been priceless. And while I can't repay them for their time, I can make a commitment to help others in the same way if and when I get the chance.
And so that's my recap for 2018. In this crazy, at times mean-spirited world, generous, kind, capable people surround me and I am so grateful.
Who's on your gratitude list? Don't forget to tell them what they mean to you.