At the start of new year we tend to have a renewed sense of hope…establish goals we want accomplish….set resolutions to help better our selves. We feel full of excitement and motivation to tackle on any challenges that may come our way…because we’re determined to make this year better than the last. This feeling of new beginnings reminds me of how in the start of 2010, we embarked on a new venture and how Sweet Silk was born.
I had come with the idea and concept of creating refined or elegant Indian sweets in 2009 after returning from working in Dubai. I was inspired by all the gorgeous European chocolate and confectionaries I visited while I lived there. I also rediscovered all the rich ingredients and spices that make Middle Eastern and Indian sweets so unique. So, as my first catering “job”, I decided to create my version of indian sweets “dressed up” like petite fours for my best friend’s wedding. I created my fist two sweet flavors based on the flavors my friend and her husband loved; coconut with cardamom and dark chocolate ganache and Mejdool dates with hint of rose and studded with pistachios. I decorated each sweet with fondant flowers and bows and packaged the two sweets inside favor gift boxes my sister and I designed inspired by the blue and silver art deco dress of the bride. Each guest received a box that was inscribed with a message from the bride and groom.
I never imagined it would take 4 continuous days for me to execute this plan, but once we saw the reaction on everyone’s face at the wedding and got positive feedback on taste, we knew it was worth every minute. That was when we knew we may be on the verge of something big!
So the start of 2010 my brother, my sister and I decided to pool together our talents, brainstorm and work together to make this vision come to life. All of January, we worked on a ideas, mission, company name and branding during the nights and I’d experiment with my mom and aunts during the day to develop my recipes and sweet flavors. In February, we conducted our first focus group where we had guests conduct a survey on everything from taste to aesthetics. Fueled with motivation and positive feedback, we kept moving full steam ahead in the coming months by obtaining our business license, making our sweets in a commercial kitchen, landing more catering jobs and continuing to collaborate to refine all of our ideas. Before we knew it summer flew by and in August we decided to take the leap and launch our first product line for sale with party in NYC. Shortly after we got our website up and running and began selling our Signature Collection online in time for Diwali. We even got an amazing feature in the New York Times before Christmas which helped spread the word about Sweet Silk throughout the country. We even got an order from someone in Japan who read about our story!
As fun and exhilarating as that first year was for all of us, it wasn’t short of its unforeseen challenges, hard work and many sleepless nights. Aside from obvious struggles of starting a new business, I faced some personal struggles with a complete change in my career and lifestyle. I wasn’t prepared for constantly having to prove myself or my vision to those who I thought would be supportive and understanding. At moments I found myself even struggling with self doubt. ”What was I thinking to do this in my 30′s!!” However, through it all I had to keep reminding myself why I started Sweet Silk. I knew I didn’t want keep working in “jobs” or have a career took over my life for sake of making hefty paycheck and……rather work for something I believe in and enjoy creating and sharing something I love.
I discovered along the way, that I wasn’t the only one facing these issues but many of my own peers and college friends who’ve made some life changing transitions have faced similar challenges. I was introduced to Vitra Singh by a good friend and found out that she had been going through similar struggles. She found herself inspired by many people she’s met and spoke to along way and was compelled to share these stories in a book to help others considering a life change and begin “Living Life For Yourself, Not Your Job”.
In this book, Vitra Singh shares the stories of 24 people who courageously reinvented their careers in a way that worked for them. Whether they turned a hobby into a full-time job, tried various avenues until they found a passion, or were forced to figure it out when life got in the way. Their journeys prove ordinary people like you and me can change the course of our careers if we want it badly enough. While it may be easy to stay in your current job, this book inspires you to start exploring a profession that will give you a sense of purpose and joy. This book shares the experiences of each of these individuals—their frustrations, fears, doubts, and strength as they boldly transformed the quality of their lives by refusing to settle for their 9 to 5 job.
I was honored to be included as one of those 24 people in this book where I was asked to answer some hard questions and reveal personal feelings and struggles. In some way having her ask me these questions and reading about the others who went through similar struggles helped me battle with own issues and made me stronger for it. I have to admit that through it all, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish or got this far without the help of my family, especially my sibling partners.
So for anyone else out there wanting to make some big changes or start a new path in 2013……read Vitra’s book or talk to others that may be able to help or provide source of inspiration…..and at the risk of sounding cliche….don’t hesitate and doubt yourself…JUST DO IT!