Yesterday a concept that started while camping in the cold at 11,000 ft launched on kickstarter. A morning a year ago, I was cold and tired after bracing myself during the night against 40 mile wind gusts that rocked the tent situated in a mountain bowel on the Continental Divide.
I had no motivation to make anything except for hot coffee. How, I thought, could I get energy and nutrition in this one cup of coffee. It would save me time and save me from eating the frozen bar in my pocket.
A couple months later on a hike, I shared the idea of adding a nutritional supplement in coffee with my good friend from college. I figured she would know if this new concept was possible since she's a BS and MS in Holistic Nutrition. Nine months later after lots of tinkering and testing we have a product we are proud of, Cofo, Superfood for Coffee.
But, this isn't about Cofo, our Superfood for Coffee product. This is about the road taken to get to the launch. As Alexandra reminded me today, it wasn't easy. Many times I questioned if I should continue and I was low - really low, like I questioned whether I should see a doctor low. There were times that I felt trapped in a struggle of my present financial/life situation without the option to focus on creating Cofo (or Howl Often).
For one, in May I got laid off my tech job. My plan originally was to work until Cofo was making money. You see, I not only support myself but support my daughter. By our society's labels, I'm a 'single mom' (I really hate the stigma associated with this label). So, when I got laid off, I was really scared about my ability to support my daughter and pursue creating Cofo. I remember someone told me, "you're so passionate about what your building, don't give it up." After lots of consideration, I decided that if I didn't try Cofo - I would be angry with myself. I think that is the litmus test to step into the uncomfortable and just try - ask yourself how would you feel if you didn't try? In my case, I would be angry with myself. So, I gave up financial security and stability for my daughter and I to follow this dream.
I had to get creative with income so I started airbnb-ing my basement. The people I met these last four months have been wonderful (well not all but most!). I've gotten pretty good at cleaning the toilet and making the bed. I also took a part-time job at a local bike shop. I also hunkered down on expenses - we now don't eat out - at all - and I never go shopping unless for groceries or toiletries. What I do miss is Shopify Premium! I'm proud of following my dream and hope this will teach my daughter to follow her dreams and to get uncomfortable along the way.
I also noticed that when I told people that I'm not re-entering the workforce and instead focusing on creating a new food product, there were two groups of people - the diminishers and the supporters. These two groups can be applied to our bosses at work- our family and friends. The diminishers were skeptical of the Cofo idea and my decision not to find stable, dependable income as a single mom. The supporters saw my passion and commitment and asked me how they could help - and gave me encouragement.
Finally, there were operational and financial issues in developing this product. Many packaging and ingredient supply companies wouldn't return our messages because we weren't big enough for them. In the end, we found partners that believed in our concept and passion. Early on I met with a food industry venture capitalist and he asked if I had $50,000 to start the company, any thing else wouldn't work. I lied - of course I did I told him. In reality I had $500. To get the money I had to be creative, which is what sparked the idea for a Kickstarter.
The Kickstarter journey has been filled with LOTS of learning. I became a master in Canva - the free the graphic design tool and spent hours reading the Kickstarter blog and forums on what makes a successful Kickstarter. I also learned a lot about packaging and found that most bags are made out of plastic (it took a while to find a compostable bag).
The Kickstarter campaign took three months to create and was a heavy lift. But I did it! And...that makes me HOWL inside! I'm not sure if the Kickstarter will work. But, I tried and that's the most important thing. I gave it my all.
Why tell you this story? Because if you are wondering if you should pursue an idea or passion unless you try, you will never know what could have happened. It may be a hard road, you'll get in an uncomfortable space, but you'll need to enjoy the small successes and not measure yourself against the big outcome. And you MUST surround yourself with people who fill you up - supporters and push away the people who are naysayers - the diminishers. Along the way, remember that you aren't trapped in any one path. It's your path to make - there are many, many ways to get there you just need to be flexible and creative.
Keep Howling, Celestia
If you would like to check out the Cofo Kickstarter it's here! And please send good karma!