Monday, June 13, 2005

Status Update 

Again, Manager is faced with questions about her age and therefore lack of experience and "credentials" in working towards opening the Cracked Cauldron.

I don't know if she'd face the same requirements and interrogations if she were working towards opening the Cracked Cauldron in some other city, county, or state.

It is very discouraging to constantly be refused loans and investments because of her youth. And that is what it boils down to. She's done an incredible amount of research, field tests, test marketing of her products, and studied various methods of operating a business like the Cracked Cauldron. She knows the risks, she's taken steps to mitigate difficulties. All she needs is a loan. Or an investor (group of investors) that will trust that she really does know what she's doing.

Or win the lottery.

We're taking a trip to Texas the 17th to confer with some bakers there and do some light shopping for things not available in Oklahoma and while we're there, we're going to go ahead and buy a few lottery tickets. You can't win if you don't play. And really, her chances of winning the lottery seem to be as good as her chances of attracting enough venture capitol or investment capitol.

She's decided to take the time to "beef up" her credentials by taking some culinary arts classes and to acquire that MBA from a local college. The books and course materials lent her by her Financial Director will help with that.

Maybe, with a few more years behind her and a few more certifications, investors will not shy away so easily.

Or maybe she'll win that lottery and can just do it all the way it needs to be done.

Her ideas and methods are cutting edge, and in the past year, we've seen many of the things she proposed to do in her Cracked Cauldron come to pass. We talked of smaller portions, and lo - bakeries started offering individual portions successfully. We talked about having a chocolate somellier, because we predicted hot chocolate would be the next coming beverage - and Starbuck's (among other coffee shops) came out months later with their Chantico Sipping Chocolate. We predicted the rise of tea consumptions, particularly white and green teas, and herbal blends, and we see an increasing number of such options at coffee shops and even in the grocery stores. We spoke of combining the bakery with an art gallery and live entertainment, and different bakeries have done similar things successfully. We spoke of wi-fi as important to a bakery like the Cracked Cauldron, and we see the rise of wi-fi in coffeeshops and bakeries throughout the country.

If we'd had the money to open the Cracked Cauldron last October, as planned, we'd be at the forefront of these trends, and of others we've talked about (buying locally, connecting the Cracked Cauldron with a specific charity, involvement in local celebrations, sponsoring local festivals, labeling all items for the top 10 allergens and not just gluten or peanut, labeling for trans-fats, customer-designed baked goods, and customer involvement in menu offerings).

It hurts, in some ways, to talk about the trends we want to spearhead, only to have others carry them forward because we lack only one small - and apparently insurmountable - thing: money.

Actually, that's not entirely true. We'd need considerably less money if we didn't have so very many expensive regulations with which to comply. Some of them make a geat deal of sense and were ones we planned on anyway. They are a logical and necessary part of doing business. Others, though are a burden on a new business.

Not to mention the proposed 5¢ per gallon sales tax on gasoline. Imagine what that will do to the cost of business - and why we planned more than a year ago to make our supplies be as local as possible.

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