Reflecting on 2012~
I am eternally optimistic. I believe people are good. I wake up every morning with the anticipation that my day will be great and that all is well. While I am prone to worrying, I believe in goodness and choosing happiness.
As I reflect on 2012 and where I was this time last year, I think that my belief in goodness and a simple kind of happiness is what probably saved me. Many times.
Each year, instead of a resolution, I choose a mantra for the year. 2012's mantra was Be More Flexible. This applied to my fitness goals but more importantly, to my response to the world.
I am extremely opinionated. (Have you noticed?) I am passionate about what I believe in. I am a recovering perfectionist. And I could do with being more open-minded. That is why I felt that being more flexible, accepting others' beliefs, and being more tolerant would be a good goal.
2012 was a big year for Kimberley's Kitchen. I am very proud of the accomplishments and achievements throughout the year. It was my biggest year yet, with so many highlights. I had to be flexible with changes in my business, life, and plans. Things happened that were beyond my control (car accident) and as always, life is busy.
I am learning so much from all of you and I am very committed to operating my business ethically and sustainably. This poses operational challenges every day. But I love the challenge. I wouldn't dare "sell-out" and go the easy route. Sure, I would probably make a lot more money. But I am not in this JUST for the money. I believe that a small company can have a big impact, even if only with a few.
My favorite Kimberley's Kitchen moments of 2012? Well, there are many. Seeing my company in national press was pretty exciting. Phoning my Dad and letting him know that I would be in his next issue of Maclean's magazine was a proud moment. There was a time when my parents imagined I would have that kind of exposure as an actor (my former profession), so to have it as an owner of a candy company was surprising. (My Mom thinks I am too busy and often asks, "Are you still making marshmallows?" I know that she is proud and simply doesn't want me to burn out, but it is funny. Doesn't she know? I can't stop now!)
An interesting side note to this press attention: Another business owner asked how I got the press and said, "did you just blast out press releases for them to use as filler?" I was a bit stunned by the abrasiveness. No, I didn't blast out press releases for filler. (Actually, I didn't send out any. I should have. Hence, I hired a marketing assistant!) I have spent 3 years working on creating good SEO and making meaningful connections through social media with others in the food world. I interview well and share much of myself through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. I was found by writers because of my hard work, authenticity, presence, and creativity. She then proceeded to ask, "so how do you do marketing?"
Another highlight was a wedding that I did in the summer- a rustic s'mores bar for a very creative chef in Toronto. He found me through a web search and said that no marshmallow company in Toronto was willing to fill his order. I was happy to take it on at short notice even though my custom order calendar was completely booked. It was a lot of marshmallows and graham crackers. And when I received a thank you letter from him and his wife, complimenting my product, it truly touched me. Personal thank you notes, emails, and messages from all of my customers and fans really motivate and inspire me.
Running a small business in a small town is a lot different than in the city. Everyone I have met, all of my local customers, my local retailers and colleagues, have all been so incredibly supportive. But the lesson is, I am always the face of Kimberley's Kitchen (especially after the local paper ran a wonderful article with a very large photo!). In everything I do- buy groceries, go to the dentist, whatever it is- I am representing my company. There is no anonymity. This has proven to be a wonderful by-product of small-town life.
My business achieved new heights financially this year but I am most proud of my personal life this year. And in particular, of my children. I strive to be a better parent and citizen every day. I look at my two beautiful daughters today and I am proud to say they are bright, caring, empathetic, funny, strong girls. I have spent time teaching them about food- my greatest passion. And this will be my legacy with them. They love cooking and baking. They love to eat amazing food. They understand the world of food and their favorite outing is the farmer's market. It is a choice to engage our children with our priorities. I believe that understanding and loving food leads to good health, good citizenship, and creating loving moments with family and friends. It is the center of all that is important to me and I share it with my children every day.
As a business owner, I have had many lessons this year. I have made mistakes and I take the lessons to heart. A few principles that became very important to me this year- speak positively about others, be gracious, be giving and share my time, knowledge and experience, and be honest. It seems obvious (well, at least to some) but I see a lot of businesses not being honest and I realized how important it is to me to be transparent. I think being vulnerable and humble are qualities in the best leaders. These qualities are actually a sign of strength.
I used to follow a company on Facebook and they touted themselves as having the Best product of their kind. It really rubbed me the wrong way and after reading endless posts about how they were the best, I stopped following them. I actually think it is a bit condescending to the audience/customers. Customers are savvy, knowledgeable, and know what they like. I don't need to say I make the best marshmallows. That is for you to decide. If you think they're good, then I am pleased. If not, I want to hear about it and why. But I am not going to pretend that somehow I cracked the code and make something so much better and that I am going to tell you what you think of my product. This was a huge lesson for me.
Building relationships is very important. I don't really like the word "networking" because it sounds so false. I work very hard at building relationships with others. I have many virtual friends that I have made along this journey and I love collaborating with them. I think our community of mompreneurs, entrepreneurs, foodies, crafters, party people, and all the others is something wonderful. I am particularly grateful to Two Sisters, the Allens, Laura, Chrissie, Audrey, Jen, Erin, and so many more. Thank you for your contribution to Kimberley's Kitchen and your ongoing support!
I love meeting my customers. When I attended Winter Gold, our local holiday artisan showcase, I had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful customers. I met a family that said, oh no thank you, we are trying not to eat sugar. Here is the lesson, and I think this applies to so many of us. We can't be All Things to All People. Even Walmart can't do that. So don't try. That is what I keep reminding myself of. I will focus on what I am good at and do that very well. I see a lot of other businesses trying to be too many things. I feel like telling them to choose the one thing they do best and just focus on that. Time and time again, great companies achieve greatness by being good at ONE THING. Car companies don't make car seats. Window washers don't make glass. Find the one thing that really excites you and focus on it. People will eat it up, so to speak.
Many of us have been inspired by Martha Stewart. She is one of the few people in the world that is good at many things. But how she achieved that was by surrounding herself with experts. A food expert. A decorating expert. A craft exert. That is how she built a business of many things. If she was still a one woman show, she would be doing only one thing. We can only do so much. So don't take on more than you can achieve with your resources, and definitely don't pour your energy into something that doesn't fill you up.
So a new mantra for 2013? What should it be? I would love your suggestions. One thing I know for sure, you know me well by now, so I would love your thoughts.
Thanks so much for this past year and for your love and support- I appreciate each and every one of you.