Monday, January 20, 2014

The End of Cinnamon

I haven't written much about it lately, but you may have noticed that here on the blog, I've started talking less and less about Cinnamon (my vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free bakery) and more about returning to school. In the two years that I ran Cinnamon, I suffered from many health issues (some of which are still unresolved and are being worked on), weight-loss, anxiety, and stress overload. In addition, my relationship with D somehow remained intact, but it wasn't nearly as good or strong as it had been prior to me starting the business. My social life all but disappeared, and I felt more lonely than I ever had before.

I wrote a bit about my struggles and the process of running a business here, here, here, and here.

That all led me to think a lot about my future, and the future of Cinnamon. D and I had some serious talks about whether this was truly making me happy, whether it was making US happy, and whether it could turn into a profitable enterprise. We decided that the only real way for me to grow was to take a step that I wasn't willing to take: to assume large business loans and open up a brick and mortar location. I had scouted out a location and had gotten as far as looking at the current lease of the possible place, but when I realized just how much it was going to cost, I took a step back. My father owned a business that made him go into severe debt, and I always vowed I would not do the same. Plus, running the business didn't seem to make him very happy, and he wasn't around very much when I was child, and both of those factors made the entire situation seem pretty unattractive to me.

me, at my very first farmers' market
After even more thinking, talking, and stressing about it, I decided I couldn't go on and take the next step with Cinnamon. Instead, I would start to close it down slowly, by taking my products out of stores, then finishing up my monthly treat subscriptions, and finally, announcing to the community that Cinnamon was closed. I did that final task just last week, in this post. It was hard for me to write, but at the same time, it's given me a good feeling to be finishing up this chapter of my life.

I don't regret opening Cinnamon. In fact, it's one of the things that I'm most proud of in my life, because it means that I'm truly capable of doing anything I put my mind to. I said I would make delicious allergen-free treats and by gosh, I did. I didn't have any marketing or selling experience, but somehow I managed to sell to multiple stores around the pacific northwest and gathered a loyal following at the local farmers' markets. To have accomplished all of these things makes me feel great, even if the actual process of doing them took its toll on my health and well-being.

some goodies I sold while at the farmers' markets
Looking ahead, D and I thought about what would really make me happy, and I realized what I missed from life was helping people. I have worked in libraries since I was in college, and that has fulfilled a part of me that loves to assist others. I started Cinnamon with the same hope, that I would be helping people who couldn't find foods they could eat based off their dietary restrictions. However, it became a business of selling, listening to people critique and complain, and lost all aspects of helping. But I never lost my love of food. I could listen and talk to someone talk about their dietary and gastrointestinal issues all day and never tire of it. Those two combining factors made me realize again my dream of being a dietitian. In fact, about three years ago, I had previously thought of becoming one, and had started taking pre-requisites at the local community college, but myriad conditions came up that made me halt that process.

Last fall, I started up again. I took a math class while I was finishing up with the farmers' markets and selling to stores, and this winter, I'm taking two classes: another math class and medical terminology. After completing my prerequisites at Portland Community College, I plan on transferring to a distance learning program at a state university in the midwest, with the proposed graduation happening the summer of 2017. It's exciting to be working towards something again; although medical terminology is extremely difficult, it's thrilling to be learning something in a field that has a definite future; after graduation and certification as a dietitian, I can be more flexible about job options and even job locations. I'm more excited about my future than I've been in quite a while.

Cinnamon will always hold a special place in my heart. And who knows? Maybe someday I'll want to open another food establishment. But for now, I'm just proud I made it out alive and (relatively) unscathed. Thanks for staying with me along the (sometimes bumpy) ride. Here's to even more fun, food-filled adventures in the future!

my life now: studying, studying, and more studying!

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