I can’t believe it’s the beginning of May. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on all of the changes taking place with the business and all that I’ve gone through in my life outside of Sweet Revenge®. I’ve come a far distance.
I feel like I’ve grown up a lot, as a business owner and as a person, since I opened Sweet Revenge® in summer 2008, and especially over the last year.
One of the greatest drivers of my personal growth was experiencing the love of my life which began last summer and ended several months ago. Being loved by H and loving him was amazing — I hadn’t been in love since I was 25. I met H in 7th grade cotillion, and we had mad crushes on each other. Back then, we wrote each other notes that my best friend Heather passed between us since we attended different junior highs. We were friends throughout high school, never dating as I recall it because he was a little too-cool-for-school for me. Heather swears I’ve got it wrong and ‘oh please we only dated older guys!’ Funny how time fades all things and memories bring on a laugh.
Ten years ago, H and I enjoyed a silly flirtfest of a night at our 10 year high school reunion. I watched him walk out the door without saying good-bye as the event ended, thinking to myself it must have been one-sided, such a bummer. Another 10 years went by, and we had the amazing fortune to cross paths at our 20 year reunion in August 2009. At the reunion, I told H about my recollection of ten years prior, and he was visibly shocked. Ten years ago, he felt the same feelings that I felt, had looked for me but couldn’t find me and thought for sure we’d meet up at the 4th Street afterward, my hometown’s fave watering hole where everyone was headed (it’s like the Cheers of Columbus, IN). I didn’t know about the reunion’s after-party, and so I went home that night. Sliding doors…
H was everything I remembered him to be from when we were younger — charming, whipsmart, easy to talk with, kind-hearted, a good person and foxy as all getout. Our connection was immediate. He had saved our letters in a box, and we got a good giggle looking back on our hilarious flirting — 7th grader-style. Our relationship took off, and it was the happiest time of my life as I experienced love for the first time since my mid twenties. Unfortunately H was going through extreme challenges in his life, and the stresses were too great on him and for us. It was a devastating couple of months leading up to our breakup. I suffered greatly losing the love of my life.
Over the last several months, I have worked very hard to put myself back together and accept peace about the situation, knowing everything happens for a reason and always works out for the best in the end. I work very hard every day to focus my energy on all that is positive in my life and to appreciate the littlest things. I’m grateful for all the good that came from H for the brief time our lives were entwined, and I work hard to focus on the positive impact he had on me and not to focus on the hurt he caused. He helped me realize that I want to have a life outside of work. I’m very good at throwing everything I’ve got at my career — that’s been true my whole life, but I’ve never been good about balance. Ever. For the first time in my life because of knowing H, I want to prioritize having a family of my own and being mad as a hatter happy in love.
Investing in my relationship with H required me to work differently and smarter at SR so that I could carve out the time to make the investment. I realized that I had to make changes and not do what I’ve always done. I afforded myself what felt like a supreme luxury of focusing on my life outside of the business, and I relinquished my laser focus on Sweet Revenge®. It was awesome discovering that it was possible to enjoy a bit of a balance…I’d gone all these years without. Being with H provided a massive epiphany for me that I want to get married, have children and be a mom. H and I navigated many challenges together, and I became a more compassionate and understanding person in the process. I learned to get comfortable taking things at a different pace and taking routes I wouldn’t necessarily choose, and being on a course that I wasn’t driving. This really wasn’t my way of doing things for the last 39 years. I had to make a lot of adjustments and grow up. I really am grateful to H for all of these positive changes.
In the start of the year, as my personal life plummeted and I was in a stupor of sadness, sometimes unable to hold back tears and my grief from my patrons as I bartended, crazyamazinglygreat things started happening for me with Sweet Revenge®. I believe this chapter of my life is my Good Karma Intervention. Wonderful opportunities have come to me, doors have opened, and the kindness of strangers and friends looking out for me have pulled me up from the saddest time in my life to ensure that I am immersed in positivity and enjoying phenomenal experiences. I’m a big believer in karma. What you put out there comes back to you. It’s just amazing.
In January as things were in massive decline with H, Newsweek interviewed me (the story is coming out this month!), and Time Out NY Mag included my cupcakes in their cupcake photo montage (pic #s 42-44). I held a Help Haiti fundraiser at Sweet Revenge® which raised $1700 for the United Nations’ World Food Program for Haiti relief.
In February, Butler University’s College of Business Dean Chuck Williams and Gifts Officer Jon Barada visited with me at Sweet Revenge®. My interview comes out this June in the alumni magazine Real Life Real Business. For Martha Stewart’s Valentines day show programming, my Casablanca cupcake was featured on-air as part of the set decoration for two weeks, and they gave me an online shoutout as thanks. At the end of the month, NBC sent 30 of my cupcakes to their 30 Rock show writers to congratulate them on their WGA award.
In March, Danielle Sonnenberg, a reporter from AM New York interviewed me for my nomination for the city’s up and coming young women in small business. Lucky Magazine showed up randomly in the middle of the month and used my place as the backdrop for a photo shoot (stay tuned — am trying to track down what became of that!). Desserts Magazine published a 6 page article and video interview of me.
In April, Fox Business News featured my profile as one of 5 “innovative entrepreneurs” chosen from across the nation in “Turning Passions into Profits”. CNN gave me a huge shoutout on-air (watch the segment) when my patron Twanna Hines was interviewed at my place about Four Square. Sweet Revenge® got an awesome writeup in HelloNewYorkCity.com’s “Sweet Sweet Revenge”. At the end of the month, Intuit invited me to speak at their Town Hall’s Small Business Symposium at the Nasdaq (watch the symposium video), and they also interviewed me at Sweet Revenge® (read the article and watch this video)! I owe a huge thanks to my friend KimChi Tyler Chen, who recently went to work for Intuit and is responsible for producing their events, leveraging her amazing talents in film and video production. She recommended me to her colleague Troy Marcyes who spearheaded Intuit’s Small Business Symposium. A big thanks to KimChi and Troy for including me in their Town Hall. KimChi is one of my fellow entrepreneurial pals, launching LOOP in 2006, a fabulous documentary film business focused on capturing life’s moments through pictures, personal interviews, music and film. After the Intuit Town Hall, I was interviewed by MSNBC. Fingers crossed it airs one of these days! Also thanks to Intuit, I was given introductions to BBC America and PBS. BBC interviewed me last Thursday at Sweet Revenge®, and the program aired on BBC America and BBC World last Friday. I made it into 2 on-air segments, one in the morning and one at night!). Tomorrow PBS Nightly Business News Report is interviewing me at Sweet Revenge®.
As a business person, I’m a whole lot calmer about the ebbs and flows of daily business life. It helps tremendously that the financials are trending up versus a year ago. Having money to pay my bills decreases my stress levels palpably. I’ve learned not to get worked up over things I know are going to work out just fine in the end.
For example, I used to really sweat it when a new pastry cook came on board and inevitably worked a lot of overtime in the first couple weeks as they were finding their rhythm and balance. Over the last 22 months I’ve seen this happen with every new baker. It stressed me tremendously as I was very worried about my costs. I would frequently remind them the responsibilities were manageable in the 8 hour shift. For each new baker, within weeks like clockwork, they would get up to speed.
When Tami joined the pastry cook team a week and a half ago, I saw her stressing that she was working overtime. She initiated a conversation with me, apologizing and saying she was very aware that she wasn’t getting it all done as fast as she’d hoped. It was only her 3rd shift on the job. I was so appreciative that she had such integrity, and I explained that I didn’t want her to be worried. I assured her I wasn’t worried and was confident that within a few weeks, she’d be movin’ and groovin’ and it would all come together. I’ve never handled this particular situation like this before, and I know I’m at a different juncture with the business.
I really focus on handling tough situations with grace like never before. I’m not saying I do this perfectly because I sure as heck don’t, but I do have a lot more awareness than ever. I’ve come to accept that things take longer than I’d ever expect and the unexpected turns, sometimes really hard ones, turn again and turn out aok in the end.
I am really in awe of my good fortune. I am a very blessed person. I am grateful to my family and friends for their loving support about H, and I’m thankful to everyone who is helping me with Sweet Revenge.
I’m going to repeat two of my fave sayings — “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” (Thanks Eleanor Roosevelt) and “In the end it all works out, so if it’s not working out, it’s not the end” (author unknown, but thanks to Mimi in Turkey (former Sweet Revenge® bartender) who taped this saying to our tip jar. Wise words all of them.
Teaser Taste of Sweet Revenge® – Meet The Regulars: Jesse