Monday, July 11, 2011

It's 22:26 (10:26 pm)- time to get to work!

Hello There =)

Thanks for stopping by.

As promised yesterday, I will go over a bit more of Zimt's history, my history, and set out some goals for the week.

I think that Zimt's history started far before I ever thought of creating a business having anything to do with chocolate. Zimt is somewhat of a direct result of just, well... me. I wouldn't have started this company, this company in particular, if I didn't have this inherent entrepreneurial nature. I remember one summer party, from more than a decade ago, where I decided to try my hand at making a rose infusion to sell as perfume to the guests (aunties were the main target =) ). Maybe it was at the same family party, maybe another one, but I know I thought I had a brilliant idea when I came up with selling bags of hand-sifted garden soil.

Kids are creative.... and apparently I have not grown up!

After mucking about in my garden and finding creative business-y outlets in the yard, I had really found a very keen interest, namely, mucking about, finding something people may want, and making it available. Pretty standard formula, but rather unusual as well.

Things got a little high-tech after that. In the sixth grade, I recall drawing up prototypes for a "super-thin, super-light" Macbook Air-esque laptop. Of course, this was 2001, and of course, the dimensions were for a monitor with a 1 cm thickness- anything less was quite impossible (thought she, who still knows nothing techy.).

High school came, as did the option whether to take another home economics course or to go for the business education option.  The majority flocked to the option of making muffins and sewing for three hours a week, but not me. Nope- check mark right next to the Biz Ed option, right off the bat. Those who could not be accommodated in Home Ec due to space restraints became my class mates... The next couple of years included my entering business plan competitions (looking back, I can't even believe those plans got any sort of mention- I don't think I even looked at financials.) and planning an eco-friendly, fair-trade clothing line. Pretty radical, considering I was the only person I knew who shopped at American Apparel, soley because it claimed to be "sweatshop free" (nobody cared about that then. And most don't now. Their marketing and CEO's actions have prompted me to... move on.). Anyway, I just noticed that their products were not made of sustainable materials, and thought that ought to be improved upon.

Then came the big question- after graduation, what are you going to do? My mom wanted me to go to university, so of course I did that, and to my surprise, got into the Sauder School of Business- right off the bat (not to brag...). I knew I wanted to start my own business, though, and thought that this would just be a good "back-up  plan"- I know, who does 4 years of intense business school as a back-up plan? Hi! Anyway, I am sure that my experience there has been invaluable. I did meet a lot of nice people.

During my second year in the program, I became acquainted with the raw food lifestyle. I'd best not delve into too much detail, but I had anticipated working with an established company in this field after graduating. Not starting it- working for one that already exists. This seemed like a really secure option- a job, a nine-to-five. Pretty standard... but of course making a living promoting what I believe in. All the summer work and odd jobs I've had have always been carefully chosen- I have never wanted to earn my money by causing harm to others. So, working for companies that condone sweatshop labour, animal testing or any other form of exploitation just would not work.

Anyway, the owner of the company had been made aware that I wanted to work at a more corporate level, but I got the sense that this was not what he really wanted. So instead of forcing my boss to give me a job he really didn't want me to give... I went back to my roots. My entrepreneurial, sifted-garden-soil roots and got my thinking cap on.

This cap took me from moving companies, to consulting, to manufacturing a product similar to the one that this company I'd been working for was making. I had settled on the latter- the start-up costs were certainly less than the moving company and it was a pursuit I was much more familiar with.

But it didn't feel right.

It felt kind of illegal- surely I couldn't just modify one of their products and expect everyone to be okay with it. So I kept thinking.

And thinking.

And... thinking.

And just before Christmas... I came up with Zimt. A raw chocolate company. One which provided the best of all worlds- beyond taste, beyond personal health, but also ethics and some (if I may be so bold) pretty innovative chocolate.

Great idea! How come nobody thought of this sooner?

Better question: Why not do some due-diligence and find out that people have thought of this before, Emma?

And due-diligence I did! What an initially disheartening experience- I found my idea no longer so innovative and thought that the market was saturated- I would be without my business and would have to go work in a bank or be in a cubical for 8 hours each day hearing "I want those reports on my desk by 3pm.". These are both poor options for someone with my personality.

So I took a step back, took a deeeeeeep breath, and realized: Vancouver needs some good raw chocolate.

Some really good raw chocolate- some truly good raw chocolate.

Needless to say, my final term of business school was not so academically-oriented. I was Zimt crazy. So what if I've never made any chocolate before in my life, much less, raw chocolate? So what if I get weary glances and "Oh... oh that could perhaps... interesting" or "Hahaha- well that's a nice idea, Emma. You go make chocolate" over and over again from people I really look up to? So what if I was told I should "just become a model" after I graduate?

Zimt was officially mine and I was going to go through (and am sure still will) many near all-nighters of chocolate making. It's really not so bad now- I've taught myself, with the help of the good old internet, how one can make chocolate and special considerations with making raw chocolate. I found filling recipes, tweaked, tweaked, and tweaked some more until I was satisfied with the results, found suppliers, did recipe cost analysis until Excel may as well have been imprinted on the insides of my eyelids, poured countless amounts of time and energy (and countable dollars) into testing recipes, tearing my hair out with packaging issues, freaking out about supplying for big-deal-for-Emma-not-for-profit bake-sales when I just couldn't get the texture of the chocolate right (I mean, I had made it once before, what was the matter with me???), complete and utter website despair ("Oh, yes, I mean, I own the URL, but please don't look at the site before I have a chance to fix the pictures... which I will learn how to do soon. I don't understand technology."),  and, right, actually learning how to make chocolate.

This is not to say that I've got it all figured out. Oh definitely not! But I'm just going to keep at it until I can stop mooching off my mom and can instead afford to buy my own groceries and not have to ration my vegan toothpaste. It'll happen.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this will (hopefully...) be one of the longest posts ever on the Zimt Artisan Chocolates blog- and a much deserved high-five if you've made it this far. And, that eco-friendly, BPA-and- PVC-free plastic wrap isn't going to order itself. Also on the to-do list is to format the labels for the small bars, remove the non-governmentally-approved health claims on my website (I just don't know how I will otherwise be able to convey that Zimt Artisan Chocolates makes diabetic-friendly, enzymatically rich, coconut-oil-metabolism-boosting chocolate that, if you're anything like my mom, will make your skin softer and help you to lose weight even after eating a pound of it on Mother's Day), and.... call my website host to ask them about transferring the domain registration.

So enjoy your night- rest-up before you head off to work tomorrow!



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