For quite some time, I felt detached from myself, from breakfast, from everything that got Breakfast by Bella ("BBB") started. I have felt lost, quiet, scared. It is only recently that I have started to feel like me again and I am loving opening up.
BBB has been such a huge part of my life for over 2 years now. It has been my life. Like a child, it has motivated me, given me goals to strive for and afforded me happiness. From day dot, business moved fast and to this day the BBB ethos and the granola remains a product that I wholeheartedly believe in.
However, it is with great sadness that I bring an end to its production and sale.
Along the fast moving road, I made a decision to take BBB in a direction which I had never intended and which didn't work out the way I hoped.
As many of you know, we ran a café inside an establishment exclusively for that establishment’s members. In the first months, I was determined that it was something we could make successful, not just because of the surroundings we were in, but most importantly because we had a permanent kitchen that would enable us to produce BBB products for distribution elsewhere. However, the stumbling blocks soon hit:
- Being exclusive to members meant that footfall was capped.
- Being restricted and unable to change this caused a draining limitation on our income;
- The demand was the complete opposite to the BBB style food I had based my brand on; and
- In having to put all my time and effort into just keeping the deli ticking, I was unable to focus on what truly got BBB going in the first place...
… granola creation
… our loyal followers and fans which we were just starting to build.
Unfortunately, the harder I worked to try and make the deli viable, the more detached I became from the original product, sometimes being unable to accept granola orders at all. I just could not do it all.
So many people dream of opening a café, but it is so much more than what it seems. There is the PILES of administration and costs related to the management of liabilities – hygiene, health and safety, insurance, tax, orders for supplies (food, beverages, various hygiene products), staff …. I could go on!
In the midst of all of this, I gave birth to the most loveable and adorable baby boy. Yet in order to manage the deli, I had to send him to a childminder from just 12 weeks old, which truly broke me. As time went on and the more hard work I put in, I still saw no end in sight. My day to day became a tense juggling act, running around like mad with an income cap so great that I could not even afford more staff to help or, most importantly, to grow. The matter was not helped by the challenges posed by a business relationship that I now wish I had never even entertained. One which, in my view, put me at odds with my ability to run my business the way I needed to in order to fulfil my duties as a company director and to have even half a chance of continuing my previous successes.
It is worth noting here that the original content I had for this post is far different from what I have actually posted. There is so much more I could say about the struggles I feel I faced as a result of partnering with the wrong people. Then I asked myself, what’s the point? The people closest to me not only know what I went through, but they saw it with their own eyes.
All I will say is that as time went on, I saw myself stuck in a place saturated with unhappiness and toxicity and in a situation which effected my mental health in more ways that I can possibly put into words. All I saw was darkness. The business was not what I hoped for and it caused me to drift from my original plan, from my start up success, and from meeting amazing people to becoming surrounded by some people (I emphasise “some”, not all people) that made me feel like I wanted to bang my head against a brick wall. The deeper the spiral became, the more darkness I saw.
This was made more difficult by the fact that I missed my husband, who I never saw as a result of overworking, and who I argued with as a result of stress. Of course, that wasn't helped when I crashed our car, his pride and joy, TWICE through pure exhaustion. One minor incident with no injuries except a crack to our front bumper and another time scraping the whole driver side alloy on the large curved wall that approaches our garage ... that time I managed to crack the alloy! The latter happened while Hubby was in the car - not a pretty sight.
I missed my baby boy so much that it hurt. The post pregnancy hormonal, mental and emotional strain I felt is one that I would once never have been able to fathom. In the last months, I have felt stuck and lost in a space that wasn't my own. I have felt confused, afraid, ashamed and dangerously silent, even to those closest to me. I have had no time whatsoever for my mental or physical wellbeing. No time to cope with all the postnatal hormonal changes, or to work on feeling better about myself. Instead I have found myself covering up my body while getting changed in front of my husband, who I have been with for 18 years, because I have hated the way I look. All the while, I was telling everyone that I was fine despite being far from it. I soon realised that when you are telling people you are ok, but secretly going to the toilet to cry your heart out, something is VERY wrong and change is needed.
Therefore while it is with great sadness that I bring the granola to an end, the original baby, I feel elated to have afforded myself FREEDOM and above all HAPPINESS.
Breakfast by Bella ceased trading as of 6 February 2019, resulting in the permanent discontinuation of our granola and permanent closure of the deli, the latter being an event that could not have come soon enough.
I am starting to feel better, much better, but I know there is a long road ahead. Slowly but surely I am feeling freedom.
Freedom to LAUGH.
Freedom to SMILE.
Freedom to be with the PEOPLE that are most IMPORTANT.
Ultimately, freedom to LIVE AND BE HAPPY.
They say you work to live, not the other way around. It stands to reason that you will have to be a slave to your business for some time, but then it should be able to flourish in a way that is uncapped and in your sole control.
This experience has taught me a couple of things:
- It has reiterated to NEVER GIVE UP! My dream changed. It became to get out of a very dark place, an impossible situation, away from people who I feel dragged me down. To simply smile again. As I sit here and type this blog with my baby playing to my left and my breakfast to my right, looking forward to a relaxing evening with my husband, light is something my sight is no longer short of.
- If your product is doing well and building traction, STICK WITH IT! Do not deviate from the original product or plan. This would be the pearls of wisdom I would share with any food start-up.
- If you partner with another business, do thorough due diligence! Upon closing the deli, it is amazing how many people close the establishment said: “I am not surprised you are leaving”, “I can’t imagine it [the deli] is profitable”, “They should be paying you to be here”. Had I have asked for more information prior to using my brand in such an enclosed space, I may have discovered what I know now much earlier on. I have no doubt that information would have changed the course of events.
- If you go ahead with the partnership, make sure it is fair, that they are the right fit and that they have your interests in mind as well as their own.
- Remember, it is business! Full stop. I thought I had made friends with some people I met. I was wrong. In my own experience and from speaking to other people about their experiences, real friends are rarely made when business is involved. Had I seen this from the beginning, I may not have been so hurt when it went wrong. So, stay unemotional as best you can. I know it is not always easy!
While I wish I had just stuck with the original product, the heart of BBB - the REAL BBB – and while I am saddened by the way things have worked out, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. So in finding happiness again I look forward to achieving new goals, MY GOALS in my own space.Also to more blogging and recipe creation, just because I enjoy it. Now a Mum, but still "Bella" - a woman more wise, growing confident once again and always hoping to help and inspire others.
I will be sharing my ramblings ("Morning Ponders" and "Evening Wonders") and recipes with you, so I hope you will stay tuned.
I am so excited to start creating again! Creativity seems to be a great stress reliever for me. Being present on Instagram and building content has helped me massively.
If anyone feels similar to anything described here, and needs to let it all out, please do not hesitate to contact me!
Equally, I am always open to collaborating and helping others. So please do get in touch if you think there could be some synergy between us.
In the meantime, Happy Healthy Eating.
In particular, Happy Breakfasting!