Wednesday, July 6, 2011

making it all work

It's been awhile since I last wrote. I just kept putting it off. It was almost as if simply writing down all that's going on would make me dizzy because I would actually have to see the vast list of juggling acts I'm currently performing. Owning a business, being a teacher, a wife, daughter, and person at the same time can be a overwhelming. It is difficult to balance and juggle my different identities. All I can say is that it's a good thing I haven't added "mother" to that list yet.

During the school year, a typical school day involved teaching a few class periods and then going to the truck during my prep period (it's conveniently across the street from the school I teach at). I would often end up helping Alex with the opening procedures, running to the bank, or serving customers. Then I'd head back to school to teach some more. Towards the end of the school year, I had to deal with my lack of balance and not go to the truck until after school. I really missed my yogurt snack break between classes, but to keep my sanity, I had to have dedicated times for teaching and business. There were still times I had to deal with a business crisis during my prep periods by making phone calls or emailing, but I worked hard to keep the boundaries set.

It's summer now and I'm able to focus completely on the business, but things on the business end have never been crazier! Since we opened in November last year, sales increased every month. Some months we jumped 14%! We thought, being a frozen yogurt place, that summer would be another big boost. We weren't expecting the huge drop in sales that we experienced. We had weeks of rain and lost much of our student income because school was out. Having never really spent much time in Kahuku when I'm not teaching, I didn't know that Kahuku is essentially a ghost town during the summer except for the tourists coming out for shrimp. Most of our adult regulars are still coming, but many students don't have a way to get out here unless they come with their parents. We have seen a jump in the number of tourists coming everyday, which has kept us afloat, but we certainly didn't expect such a drop in total revenue.

Another factor we didn't consider that is unique to this part of the country: massive graduation parties. In Hawaii, and arguably mostly in Kahuku, graduation parties are huge. My graduation party consisted of my parents, grandparents, sister, and boyfriend. A graduation party here will have parents, aunties, uncles, cousins, siblings, grandparents from Samoa, friends, teachers, church members, your cousins' friends, neighbors, and anyone else who happens to be in the neighborhood. Graduation parties here can run in the thousands of dollars because you have to have enough food to feed your whole family of 200 people and their friends. This leaves the community without much money left for frozen yogurt.

To complicate matters, we've also had more business emergency expenses than ever. It's true that when it rains it pours. It's been raining literally and pouring figuratively. So, not only did we see a drop in sales revenue, but we also had more expenses that made that drop even more stressful. I've spent my summer balancing the books and trying to figure a way out of this mess. Thankfully July is looking a lot better.

Thus begins a new chapter in understanding our business and business ownership. It takes a full year to learn when your busy times are, when you'll see drops in sales, and for people to really know you're even there. We've been blessed for sure with amazing regulars (some come everyday and one family even has an "Ono Yo budget"), profits in the first year, great feedback, and my teaching job to get us through this rough patch. It's so incredible to look back and see how much we've learned and how far we've come in such a short period of time. We've had celebrity regulars, a Food Network interview for a show, and have done some charity events we were honored to be a part of. We're so excited to see where this business will take us and to begin a new chapter in our personal lives as we start our little family.

Next post: I went to California to visit family and try frozen yogurt stores over there. I'll tell you all about my trip and what I learned!