"THIS IS INSANE!"
This was the main thought in my head for the past 6 or so weeks as we launched this crazy thing into existence.
Our "soft opening" started on November 10th, and it was about as soft as my stainless-steel work table. It seemed like Mifflinburg was that kid who finally got their X-Box for Christmas and spent the next 72 hours straight doing nothing else but playing Star Wars: Clone Wars (aka me and my sisters circa 2001). I sound sarcastic, but it was really lovely. Seeing the community come out and support our business venture was really incredible - at least in hindsight.
That first week was start-up/bakery boot camp for me. I was really hopeful as the week started and I began prepping the product. I woke up at 3:30 that first Thursday and found the solitude and quiet of the early morning really relaxing. The day came and went and people were streaming through the door and buying this stuff I had labored all week to make, which was really great. And then 6:00pm came and the cases I spent all week filling were almost empty. And I had 12 hours before they needed to be full again. Did I mention I was already running on two hours of sleep? O yeah, that too.
10pm came, and I was going to have to get up in less than 6 hours to start again. My brain was no longer working and I was so exhausted that I just wanted to cry, and we were nowhere close to finished with all that needed to be done. This was day 1. How was I ever going to survive? What the sh*t did I get myself into? I stayed up again until about 1am, and prepared myself for 2 hours of sleep again, and another crazy work day. The next night I mercifully was relieved to go to bed at 10pm instead, though my family continued to work late to fill everything up. This wasn't sustainable. I was going to be dead within the year, I was sure of it. Guys, I'm not being dramatic. This is actually what I was thinking.
This was the hardest week of my life thus far. I've never worked so hard. I've never felt so overwhelmed or exhausted. I've never been more afraid of what the next years of my life would look like.
Don't worry, it's better now.
There were so many things we had to learn about efficiency and how to produce a lot in a short amount of time. My normal work day now looks like 3:30 am to about 10:00 pm - but not always. There is merciful night off when everything is caught up, and getting to sleep in until 6 or 7 on the days when the shop isn't open is about the best thing ever. And each week it gets better. Each week I get more sleep, more time with my husband and our families, more sanity, and more joy at the work we get to do in this community.
Did I mention our support system? I have never felt so indebted to so many people who want nothing except maybe some free bread in return. Saying "thank you" falls so dreadfully short that it feels out-of-place and foreign. We need stronger words for thanks in the English language that we use for really special times. I need those words or actions so much to share just how grateful I am for everything given by our family and friends to help through the initial birthing-pains of Gable House. My favorite moments over this last moments include Dad randomly showing up just to wash some dishes, Mom insisting she enjoys getting up at 4:00am, Matt having all kinds of neat conversations with people at the counter, and the 80s rock that accompanies clean-up with Matt's family at the end of our Saturdays (the same 80s rock that secretly makes me want to pound my head against the wall, and the insane amount that they enjoy it). And these are only a few.
So there you have it. A little insight into the start-up of a business. I hope it makes you want to go out and support all the little start-ups and small businesses around, seeing just a fraction of what these people have given of their lives to create something that will hopefully bring some goodness into your life as a consumer. If you're thinking about starting a business, I hope this doesn't scare you, but at the same time I kinda hope it does. Understanding what you are going to give of yourself and your family before you give it is essential to your longevity as an entrepreneur.
That's all my thoughts for now. And I don't have a good sign-off. The End.