I get asked a lot about why I chose to start a ‘lolly store’.
Although a polite question, it’s always asked with a slight tilt of the head indicating some level of bewilderment. It’s clear that as business ideas go the general consensus is that starting up a candy store is a dumb one.
In some ways, with retrospect on my side I’d agree. Any bricks and mortar store carries with it startlingly high start up costs and in today’s day and age most people think starting up a website is a safer and cheaper way to go.
But, I’m an advocate for the idea of creating a physical space with smells, smiles, noises and touchable objects. For me if your long term goal is to create a recognisable brand name then a physical presence is essential to customer trust and loyalty.
And hell, why dip a toe into the water when you can dive in – diving is always much more fun, despite the risks of smacking your head on stones!
I had decided that despite enjoying my previous ‘career’ in communications (think Facebook, media releases and the person that nags colleagues about their email signature font) that four weeks annual leave was just not enough. I began to look at life as something I fitted into these weeks of perceived ‘freedom’.
And although that’s just a head space, I decided that for me the 9-5 (more like 7:30am – 7pm nowadays) was not how I wanted to live my life. I believe in being in the driver’s seat of my own whinging. When things go wrong, it’s entirely in my power to fix it, ignore it or cry about it.
Armed with the knowledge that taking a risk meant leaving behind an almost assured destiny in middle-management (I knew I was too obnoxious for top level management), I grasped onto the idea of starting up a store in my hometown, Wellington.
Which brings me to the question of why lollies. Well, I had spent most of my adult life travelling and the things I absolutely love to do when I arrive in a new country in no particular order are:
- Smell it
- Get lost in it
- Go to the supermarket and stare at strange foods
- Point at things on menus and cross my fingers
As a result of these activities, I found that as you stare at supermarket aisles you notice that sweets are incredibly culturally diverse. Different countries have an amazing array of lollies, with awesome packaging that awakens your senses.
Knowing my business would have to reflect what I seemed to be good at, or knowledgable about, and given that drinking was out of the question due to liquor licensing dramas and lack of networking abilities, travel seemed the logical option. From here I looked at what else I loved and as a passionate lolly fiend it seemed like the perfect option.
So here we are, Sarkara therefore represents a not very well thought out business plan built on a lot of determination, passion and bloody-mindedness.
Ultimately though, I see life as points where two roads diverge. We can choose which path we take, and I hope that looking back it won’t necessarily be the path less travelled that has made the difference, rather the path I knowingly took with eyes-wide open that has made a difference to my life journey.