What a difference a year makes

I have been sporadic at best with my blog posts, but it is hard to do all the jobs with a small business. Writing is also something I have to feel inspired to do. I’m so busy working the business that, sadly, this is pretty far down the list. I do feel like the real one year anniversary of when started selling at the farmer’s market is a noted occasion, which deserves its own reflections.

I was lucky. I started planning for this business back in 2007 after I got out of the Navy. I had done plenty of research on how I wanted to operate and I had a great artist available to design my mascot and logo, so I was able to keep that in-house. Years of trying and failing to get my accounting degree, along with ordering all of the office supplies and random specialty items for my division of almost 400 personnel at my last job did prepare me for a lot of the challenges I’ve faced.

In March of 2021 I opened my bank account for the business. That is considered the ‘official’ start of the business in a legal sense, though I didn’t start my website until May, and selling in person until July. I was nervous about starting Galaxy Girl Coffee because most businesses fail, and I had spent the last 2.5 years being told I was a failure at my last job. It didn’t matter what I accomplished there; I was still considered a failure. Thus, the worry that I wasn’t good enough, or wouldn’t work hard enough, was a very real concern. I was excited too since I had spent years dreaming of this moment and planning for it. I had to take the leap of faith that I could do this.

Website screenshot after being tweaked

The major lessons learned over the last year was how to set up my shipping, and how to correctly price my products. The restrictions of my website host made the first lesson much more difficult than I imagined. The second lesson was more about marketing than about actual pricing, and it has also been affected by the current inflation that has been happening. My goal has always been about selling my coffee at a reasonable price, I just had to adjust what that reasonable price is.

The fun part of the past year has been meeting all the new people and helping everyone find their favorite coffee. I’ve made some great friends at the market. I have had the privilege of seeing their triumphs and cheering them on. I have also learned a lot from other market vendors. Every business is different, but I also believe that people can learn from others, even if the experiences don’t directly relate.

Current roaster set up

I built my website myself, initially, because I only had enough funds for that. I had done my research, and picked my website host, then the true frustration began. Anyone that likes to design things knows that the gap between the idea and the reality is aggravating. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn it into reality. What I got was a website that mostly works and looks pretty but was missing a few things. It is still missing some functionality I would like even after hiring someone to tweak it, but I’ll get there eventually. The process I went through has shaped my plans for future changes to the website.

Rainy market day at one of my first markets

My plans for the future of Galaxy Girl Coffee remain mostly the same. I still am working towards getting a trailer so I can roast on site, along with a new and improved website, and expanding my media presence. The trailer will also give me a commercial kitchen so I can do coffee tasting events and catering, along with selling wholesale and hopefully internationally. The website will improve the ordering experience for my customers and the reports I get so that I can improve the process even further. My media presence will give you all a better understanding of where your beans come from and how I roast them.

Due to my ADHD, I am very impatient, so the delays are frustrating, but the good news is that in the year since I started selling at the Downtown Farmer’s Market of Manhattan, GGC is fully self-sustaining. This means that while my growth may be slow, I no longer have to use my limited resources to keep the business afloat. I can use my spare funds for expansion instead. I’m not sure where this puts me with the metrics of other businesses, but I feel that I’m doing pretty good.

So, thank you to everyone that has been a part of my first year in business. I look forward to providing the best coffee possible for many years to come, and maybe be able to help others that want to do what I do get into this business. Can’t wait to see what year two will bring.

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