Little City Kitchen Co. Blog

Handcrafted, organic, frozen baby food with an International twist
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Knowing When to Ask for Help: Food Entrepreneur Blog Series

The last couple of weeks have been challenging to say the least, perhaps even the most difficult I’ve had so far on this venture.  Without boring you to tears with the details, I’ve wrestled with everything from building a food community to securing funding to fears about money and a bazillion other things that keep me up at night.

But the most recent thing I learned is that being an entrepreneur can be extremely lonely.

I find myself trying to achieve the perfect balance between being a determined business owner and a woman that knows she can’t do it all by herself.  This struggle finally ended in a (admittedly much-overdue) full-on meltdown, complete with blubbering and a half a box of tissues. Clearly I’m still working on that balance thing.

At the end of my emotional week, I had drinks with a dear friend who has built up her own thriving business from scratch.  She made a comment about how her husband played a key role in her success.   However, her girlfriends get really upset when she says that…the underlying interpretation probably being that she couldn’t have done it by herself.

An interesting thing happened.  I found myself immediately rising to her defense and making the comment that a good entrepreneur always needs help, and seeking help out is part of being successful.  It took me all of about two seconds to realize my own hypocrisy…as this is what I struggled with all week, and if I’m being honest, probably all year.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with this newfound knowledge, but suffice it to say, I’m more aware of it now and can (hopefully) work towards find better balance.  And avoiding the meltdown thing in the future would be pretty great too.

New Farmers Market Locations and Schedule

We’ve got a lot of things planned in the next couple of months.  Here’s our new Farmers Market schedule:

Lafayette, Thursdays from 4-8pm, beginning Aug 4
Walnut Creek, first Sunday each month, beginning Aug 8
Burlingame, Sundays 9am – 1:30pm (every week except the first Sunday of the month)

The flavors change every week, so stop by and visit if you can!

Upcoming Cooking Demonstrations

If you’re interested in learning about introducing solids and how to make your own organic baby food, consider attending one of our upcoming cooking demonstrations.

Usually these are 1 hour in length, either free or a minimal cost, and you get to take home some of the food we make.  Or, if you’re interested in a hands-on cooking class, complete this quick form and I’ll let you know about our upcoming schedule.

Kaiser Daly City
Tuesday, August 2
2:45 – 3:45pm
View event details here (limited to Kaiser moms)

GetzWell Pediatrics
Tuesday, August 16
6pm – 7:30pm
View event details here

Whole Foods Los Altos
with Petite Village
Wednesday, September 21
6:30 – 7:45pm
More details coming soon!

Hope to see you at the farmers market or one of our cooking demos.  Have a great week everyone!

Entrepreneurship is a State of Mind: Food Entrepreneur Blog Series

I’ve said it before: starting a new business is not for the faint of heart.  It takes things like an exorbitant amount of self-confidence, a lot of persistence, endless creativity, a mind open to possibilities, and the kicker for me…constantly reminding yourself that what you want to accomplish is entirely possible.

While I believe that entrepreneurship is a state of mind, sometimes it can be slightly schizophrenic. There are days when I’m flying high, walking down the street knowing that everything is going to work out.  And then there are the inevitable days that I wonder how the heck am I going to survive this?  Luckily there are more of the former than the latter…

It’s not surprising that more opportunities present themselves when I’m in a good space.  When you’re down in the dumps, it’s hard to focus on anything else but yourself…which, not surprisingly, tends to be counter-productive in the moving forward department.

Like most new business owners, when I first pictured my new entrepreneurial life, I focused on all the wonderful and fun things.  I envision is being surrounded by happy mommies feeding their babies my food, and then that raving all about it to the person next to them!  I had a flash of that at the Birth & Baby Fair this year.  That image keeps me going while I’m doing dishes and clean-up at 10pm!

Birth & Baby Fair – Take 2

The second installment of the Birth & Baby Fair was a raving success.  During the morning rush, it was common to see 4-5 strollers surrounding the Little City Kitchen Co. booth, and lots of happy babies trying our yummy food.  Not surprisingly, parents were excited about the International spin on baby food flavors, and the fact that it’s frozen vs. shelf-stable giving their kiddos more nutrients.

The cooking demo was also fantastic…and thank goodness, without any of the drama of last year!  We covered a range of topics including when to start introducing solids, what foods to start with (hint: veggies, meat, and other nutrient-dense foods…not rice cereal!!), how to make your own baby food and much more.  Special thanks to my booth superstars Angie N., Jill B. and Jill P. for helping out during the day, and to Dr. Julia Getzelman for her perspective on introducing solids at the demo.

New Farmers Markets

Coming soon to an East Bay market near you!  Beginning July 28, find us at the Lafayette farmers market on Thursday evenings between 4-8pm, and starting August 7, the Walnut Creek farmers market on the first Sunday of every month (the remaining three Sundays I’ll continue to be in Burlingame).

Overall, it’s been a good couple of weeks.  Enjoyed some much needed rest over the holiday weekend and hope you did as well.  Now it’s back to work and full steam ahead!!

Know When to Adjust Your Course: Food Entrepreneur Blog Series by Little City Kitchen Co.

Little City Kitchen Co. turns one.  Can you believe that a year ago, literally to the day, I blogged about my very first day of being an entrepreneur.  In the last 12 months, I’ve learned more about myself than perhaps any other time in my life.   I wrote blogs until my eyes were blurry, handled an 8-inch chef’s knife long enough to get calluses, and somehow managed to get this company off the ground.

At the time I decided to sell baby food, I had no idea what would be involved, much less that it would take me nearly 10 months of planning to sell my first pack.  It’s been a period of dreaming and scheming, along with a lot of trial-and-error.  And I learned one of the most valuable lessons along the way:

Know when to adjust your course.

Adjusting your course may mean big changes, or little ones.  My biggest one came three weeks into my self-employment when I decided to abandon the idea of being a personal chef/caterer and turned this into a baby food company.

I find that the world sends little messages of validation when you choose the correct course of action.  A week after I decided to make baby food, I met a lovely woman in the baby food aisle of Whole Foods that turned out to be the owner of one of the most prominent baby resource centers in San Francisco, Natural Resources.  Through them, I found my Baby Tasters which propelled me into the next chapter of R&D, and so on…

My latest course adjustment came after a six-month process applying for a small business loan.  In the end, I decided to do something unconventional, maybe even slightly renegade-like, and turn down the loan.

The very next day I had coffee to brainstorm business ideas with a new friend who would eventually turn me one to peer-to-peer lending sources like Slow Money and Prosper.  Who knows what will come of this newfound knowledge, but something tells me I’m on the right path.

The point being, that this process is all about trying new things, constantly evaluating what works (and doesn’t work), and making an infinite number of adjustments along the way.  Sometimes your adjustments are based on facts, sometimes they’re based on your intuition…either way, they help shape what your company will look like.

Next week we’ll have another installment of the Scoop on Starting Solids with guest blogger Dr. Julia Getzelman of Getzwell Pediatrics.  The Birth & Baby Fair is also just around the corner on Saturday, June 25.  I’ll be doing another baby food cooking workshop, but RSVP fast because the 50 seats are going fast.  For some fun stories about my first experience at the B&B Fair, check out Part 1 and Part 2 from last year.

So, it’s been a whole year since Little City Kitchen Co. was born.   I wonder what the next year will look like??


Tips for Starting a New Business – Part 1: Tales from Food Entrepreneur Blog Series

I received some great advice when I started this blog: be consistent, be brief, and be authentic.  Of all of these, the last one about being authentic is the most important one to me.  When I find myself struggling to write, typically this means I’m trying too hard or it’s not the right topic for me.  I then find something else to write about.

Today I find myself in an uncommon (and thankfully infrequent) place.  I’m down.  I mean really buried in one of those annoying valleys I’ve often described to you guys.  I considered either skipping this week’s blog, or writing about a different “happier” topic, although both of these seemed inauthentic to me.

So instead, I decided to channel a little of piece of my funk into some advice I’d give to a new entrepreneur.  Here’s the beginning of what will probably turn into a long list in the coming months:

Get Advice

Surround yourself with free or low-cost talent: Places like the SF Small Business Development Center (SBDC) were/are extremely helpful to me.  Thanks to them, I have a business coach, a marketing coach, help with my bookkeeping, not to mention the various classes I’ve taken on tax laws, social media, accounting, and other relevant topics.  If you don’t have a local SBDC, check the surrounding community colleges or even the city planning offices to see what assistance classes are offered, for example the Oakland BAC.

Get Support

Develop a “tribe” of both personal and professional contacts: Starting a business can be grueling, so having a support system in place makes it a little easier.  It can be as simple as a group of girlfriends getting together for a wine club (shout out to my wine gals!).  On the professional side, seek out other small businesses in your field.  There is typically some partnership opportunity, and at the very least, someone who can relate to what you’re going through.

Get Money

Save a bunch, borrow if you need, and plan for the unexpected: Money is a constant source of concern for any new business owner.  The reality is that you need 1) start-up capital to invest in your business, 2) living expenses for around two years, depending on the business, and 3) some cushion money for emergencies.  Use the Rule of Three; it takes three times as long, and costs three times as much than you originally expect.

Get Happy

Create a “happy folder” and fill with anything that makes you feel good: When I get really down, I open my happy folder and re-read emails that I’ve saved over the years: accolades I’ve received, heartfelt emails from friends, encouraging comments from clients, etc…  Sometimes I have to read for 30 minutes, but I always feel better afterwards.  It’s a way to keep things in perspective and remind myself of what’s important.

Reminder to everyone that I will be launching the Scoop on Starting Solids Q&A blog series next week.  Dr. Julia Getzelman of Getzwell Pediatrics will kick off the series by answering a few questions submitted from readers.

Win a free pack of baby food if we feature your question.
Just post a comment on our Baby Food Giveaway page to submit.