Oh, how I have missed you, dear Grenglish readers. Although it has been so long since I have posted here, I wonder how many of you are still around.
I do still love this space. I miss this space. This tiny corner of the internet that I have claimed and treasured for 5-years has been sorely neglected while I have been off cultivating another corner, a smaller space that I am still trying on for size and taking my time to grow into.
When I first started writing Grenglish, it was with the intention that I would one day print it out and give it to my son as a diary of his early years, full of stories about his family and how much he is loved. And, for the most part, I have stayed true to that. Then, a few years ago, I realised that food played such an important part in our family. Or, more specifically, Yiayia’s food.
So, together with my sister-in-law, we took on the enormous task of documenting all of Yiayia’s favourite recipes, which we originally thought we would turn into an e-book that could be downloaded from this blog. However, as the years (!) went by, our ambitions changed and we decided to self-publish the recipes in a paperback format instead. Our book was published at the end of last year and it was around this time that we decided to embark on a food stall business as well.
We do not have the desire – or the kitchen skills – to become caterers, but we do think there is a market for our homemade Greek dips. Not the kind you can buy in supermarkets, but tzatziki the way Yiayia makes it with 2 cloves of garlic, fresh mint and crunchy cucumber; taramosalata that uses fresh tarama and dill, but none of the stuff that turns it bright pink, and houmous that really packs a punch.
Yiayia’s recipes have been well-tried and tested over the decades so we just had to concentrate on building the business. And, when I say ‘just’, I mean working every spare waking hour to make it happen, often setting my alarm for 5.30am to get a head start on the day. I also continued with my day job(s) and scheduled work around the school run and bedtime.
Sadly, this has not left much time for poor old Grenglish, but I do hope to rectify that now we are starting to find our groove.
Of course, the process has not been an entirely smooth one. We didn’t have any experience of setting up a business and there are many legal standards in place for food products that we had to get our heads around. We also had to complete a food hygiene course, purchase insurance, research packaging and build a website. All this before we could even start thinking about label design, marketing, or booking a pitch at farmers’ markets and fairs.
It has been an exhausting few months and there have been a few moments when I have asked myself what I was thinking starting a new business at this time in my life with already so much to juggle, but in many ways, I could not have done this before now.
I spent most of my twenties day-dreaming my way up a different ladder. I had no idea where it was heading, how I got on there, or what I hoped to find at the top. Every few years, I’d hop across to another ladder to see if I enjoyed the view better from over there. I side stepped, moving up and down a few rungs at a time, but never really making much progress. Perhaps, because I also spent a lot of my twenties going ‘out-out’…
In my thirties, I was too busy falling in love, getting pregnant, married and searching for the ultimate life/work/bank/blog balance to think about starting a new venture.
When I entered my forties, I did so with a happy heart. I had left my full-time job just weeks before and saw my 30’s out with a last hurrah by street dancing on the telly. I was ready for the challenge of something new.
There are many benefits to waiting until later in your career to start a business. For one, I have more professional experience to draw from and I have a better idea of my strengths and weaknesses.
I am also familiar with responsibility and have a clearer idea of the work/life balance I want. I am less afraid to say no. I am also less afraid to say YES!
We have made mistakes and will probably continue to make mistakes, but are learning so much and having a lot of fun in the process.
The response to our Greek dips has been incredible. From the people we meet on our food stall and the local store owners who want to stock our dips, to the supermarket chain that recently approached us wanting to stock our entire range! However, it’s still just the two of us working from our home kitchens and making our own deliveries, so production and distribution definitely needs to be a key focus for us in the new year.
Looking back over how much we have achieved in our first 6-months, it would be easy to put it down to good luck or timing, but we believe hard work puts you where the luck can find you.