Tuesday, August 25, 2009

as the saying goes...

... when it rains, it certainly does pour! Hard to believe that a mere week ago I was chewing the tips of my fingers in worry over financing for the shop. Now, in such a short space of time, I find myself with multiple investors and I do believe I am beginning to round the top of the great first hill of the roller coaster that is this adventure into small business ownership.

Now is the time for counting eggs, which I'm not want to do, but I feel there's a time for it in any entrepreneural endeavor. The money is forthcoming, lawyers are doing their little dance, so in the meantime I am moving forward doing everything I can to ready preparations on the space, contracting, etc. so that I can make this whirlwind take shape in the form of opening in November, just in time for holiday shopping. I am so incredibly grateful for everyone who has helped me out thus far, be it in the form of free press, investing in my dream, giving moral support along the way, to even offering blood, sweat and tears when it's needed in exchange for cheese. If only I could pay everyone off in curds and whey!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thanks, hiccups, and lucky stars

My previous post asking for the wonderful people of Seattle to rally for the Calf & Kid thankfully fell on many open ears and watchful eyes. In a matter of hours I received emails from a small handful of people who are interested in the prospect of my entreprenueal venture, and already I've got a meeting with one of them this weekend to speak in person and hash out details. I won't say that anything is a go at this point, but I am so very grateful for so many supporters out there who re-tweeted my plea, sent me encouraging emails, and generally helped me keep my head above water in a time when it would be so very easy to let myself sink into a small pit of dismay, avec a block of Brie de Nagis. As it is, I only ate half of it, and my cholesterol thanks you all.

In the meantime, I've been making a list of people to thank for their upfront efforts to keep the word out there and help build anticipation in the form of a little free press about the shop. Namely, the good folks at CHS blog and Seattle Metropolitan Magazine. Representatives from both publications approached me a few weeks back for informal interviews, and you can read them online now:

CHS profile on Sheri LaVigne
Seattle Mag's Nosh Pit

I'm crossing fingers and toes that the setback of losing an investor is merely a hiccup in the process of making my dream de fromage come true.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Decompressing from ACS

It is really difficult to put into words the experience I had at ACS last week. My head is still reeling a little from all of the amazing people I met, the bounty of great information I absorbed, not to mention the nights of plentiful cheese and beers with new friends and colleagues.

In a nutshell, making the decision to go to this conference was one of the best I've made yet. I know now that this yearly excursion will be one that I always make the time and money for, no doubt about it. During the Becoming a Cheesemonger seminar back in June, I remember Steve Jones saying that every year he agonizes over the cost of going, and by the time he's on his flight home, he wonders how he ever could have questioned the choice to do so. I can't agree enough; by the time I was making my trek back to Seattle a few days ago, I was so full of cheese love that I couldn't stop from smiling to myself.

Seminars I attended were all good, ranging from those that confirmed a lot of the ideas I already had, to those that opened my eyes to so many new possibilities for this venture. Notably, Ari Weizenberg of Zingerman's gave a rousing talk of customer service and the incredibly important role it plays in anything food related. The Affinage seminar was affing-awesome, especially getting to hear Mateo Keleher of Jasper Hill's Farm, and of course the Cellars at Jasper Hill, talk about the great undertaking of creating a state-of-the-art cheese cellar in Vermont. Grassroots Marketing was a huge highlight; Jeanne Carpenter of Cheese Underground and Ken Monteleone of Fromagination were both refreshingly progressive voices of the Wisconsin movement towards Artisan cheese culture (which in my mind is automatically inclusive of Grassroots marketing). There were many more but I can't possibly wax even the slightest bit poetic on each one or you'll be reading this post for the next hour.

Each session I attended left me more elated and jazzed, and the momentum was simply contagious. After a few days everyone seemed to feel more comfortable, conversations started quickly and organically with just about everyone I literally bumped into as we rushed around to attend to our various commitments. I did sort of find "my people" within a very small but motley crew of other hopeful cheesemongers, and we had a great time reconnecting for post-conference beers in the Texas heat, sharing what we'd gathered from our experiences of the day. One of the best things about a conference centered on your passion is meeting the many people who are right there with you. Bonding through sharing experiences, thoughts, reflections, and naturally a lot of alcohol (we are all on a tad bit of vacation after all!) is just as important and worthwhile as the formal education of seminars led by the professionals in the field.

I am eagerly awaiting next year's ACS conference, which will take place here in lovely Seattle. I am in the process of figuring out how my presence can and will be an instrumental part of this yearly gathering of cheese fiends. Naturally, you will all be privy to that as is comes to fruition.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cheese in the Heart of Texas

I can't believe it's already the last day of the ACS conference. The past three days have been an absolute whirlwind of cheese tasting, networking, and packing my brain with more information than I'd thought possible. I'm still mentally distilling this experience for my own blogging purposes, so in the meantime please take in the musings of a few fellow cheese geeks who have kept it together enough to write fabulous bits on conference happenings:

Cheese Underground

Cheese and Champagne

Musing and photos to come, but tonight, The Festival of Cheeses!