July

It seems to be a pattern lately, with my blog posts getting further apart. I don’t mean for that to happen and so I will really try to do better.

My last post was all about my transition from leaving my day job. Well, guess what! They called me back. A few weeks ago, they asked me to come back and it was a tough decision for me as I know in saying yes, I won’t sacrifice Yoga-urt and I won’t sacrifice my job, and so the thing that suffers is me. I wear myself out with work, work, work.

I negotiated going back 3 days a week in hopes that I will still have time for myself and Yoga-urt. It was really nice to go back but it has taken a toll.

There is SO MUCH going on right now with Yoga-urt! We finally started nationwide shipping of the pints 2 weeks ago – more on that soon. We had a booth for 2 days at Arroyo Seco last weekend. I’m having our website updated. I’m having our nutritional info brochures updated and creating one specifically for pints. I’m getting new uniforms/shirts for the store.

And, Yoga-urt’s 3rd Anniversary is in less than 3 weeks! So much to do for that!

And so I do feel more worn down than the previous month, but hope to find some balance soon.

I can’t believe Yoga-urt’s been open 3 years already. We’ve come such a long way during these 3 years and I’m so proud of Yoga-urt and grateful to everyone for supporting us.

July is a big month for us. The anniversary. National ice cream day/Month. Warmer weather. Nationwide shipping continues.

Here we go!

Advertisements

Cookies & Cream

We had the debut of our first new flavor of 2018 a few weeks ago and it happened to be the most requested flavor from our customers – Cookies & Cream.

The plan was actually to have this flavor come out in February but it took much longer than planned. Why did it take so long? Well, we had a delicious version with an Oreo cookie we found in stores, but we couldn’t find a cookie that was organic, glutenfree, & soyfree in addition to vegan.

I considered making an exception to this flavor and not hitting our checklist of allergens, but it just seemed wrong. So what do we do? We decided to try to make our own cookie so we could have it all!

After a couple of tries, it still wasn’t right. I felt a bit hopeless as it never was as good as our first batch with the store cookie. But then Megan took a pass at the cookie and that was perfect. We felt the cookie would work, but we were still worried about blending it too much, the color of the yogurt, etc.

It was crunch time because I was opening that Sunday and really wanted to debut it that day. I get so nervous with new flavors and I like to be there to make sure it runs through the machine okay and to get some customer reactions.

I did a test through the machine that week and I was really happy with it. I was seeing my family later that day so I brought them some and they devoured it. My nephew considers himself a Cookies and Cream connoisseur and he LOVED it.

The test was with cookies that Megan made. But now, I had to make them to make sure I knew how, could train my team, and keep making them in the store. I also had to buy a food processor as we didn’t have one.

So I got all the ingredients, the food processor, and took a pass at the cookies. It worked!!!! Those that know me know I don’t do much cooking so it’s always a big deal for me. We also had the cream recipe so I had to try that too.

So it was full on cookie production the next few days. The original food processor I bought was horrible and made everything really difficult. It took forever. I got a much bigger and better one a few days later, but OMG, was it painful in the beginning.

So, Sunday comes and we introduce the new flavor. And boy, did people like it. Actually, not like it, they LOVED it! We went through 6 gallons the first day. Crazy!

You know what that means – more cookies! We almost sold out everyday for the entire week. I was not expecting that so more and more cookies were needed. I was basically at the store until almost closing every night making cookies. Cookies & Cream took over my life!

This was the first flavor that consistently sold more than Chocolate Bliss for its entire run. That’s NEVER happened before.

It took until that Friday for us to get ahead of the cookies, but thankfully we did before the weekend, and have since then. I’ve made so many gallons of Cookies & Cream the last few weeks to keep up with demand. The good news is I can do it super fast now.

Speaking of demand, we’ve been really busy which of course is a good thing. But until I hire another Soft Serve Maker or two (happening this week thankfully), I basically became a soft serve maker the last 2 weeks. Pretty much every night, we were running out of flavors so I would come in the evening and flavor. The base is made in the morning, but there needs to be some time before flavoring so at a certain point, it has to be evening.

I wasn’t planning on being a soft serve maker, but as an owner, you do what needs to be done.

I personally LOVE Cookies & Cream. I will miss it like everyone else, and it will definitely keep coming back.

On another note, there has been a big change in my life recently, and I will share more about that soon.

Namaste!

Transition / Change

Omg, it’s been so long since my last post. Time just flies by. There is so much going on to catch up on, I’m not sure where to begin. I think I’ll take it in pieces and start with the big transition I referred to in my last post. Then eventually cover Vegan Street Fair, Eat Drink Vegan, and more.

The big transition is that I no longer have my day job. I’m not sure if people realize that up until a few months ago, I have had a full-time job the entire time I’ve been working on Yoga-urt. I know – it’s crazy.

My project suddenly went on hold and so they had to let people go – and I was one of them.

This wasn’t just any job. I was a Senior Producer leading teams of 30-50 team members on international theme park/museum projects for an awesome company.

Juggling this demanding job with Yoga-urt has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I sacrificed my life, my health, and more and it will take me months if not years to recover.

Why did I keep this job so long? For 2 reasons.

1. It was a great job with great people. The projects were tough and clients were difficult, but I was surrounded by such amazing talent and people. I got to work with the best in the business and if my career in themed entertainment ends now, I feel so fortunate to end with these people and this company after almost 20 years in this industry.

2. Not going to lie, the money. It was my security net for Yoga-urt and got us through the first few hard years. It is a big part of my Yoga-urt story and I tear up just thinking about how grateful I am for it, as Yoga-urt might not have made it without this job.

And yes, they knew about Yoga-urt, although I had to completely separate the two while there (but I did bring some in from time to time). I had to work harder to prove myself to them because they knew I had my own thing. I had to be on my A-Game at all times.

Opening and maintaining Yoga-urt while having this job almost killed me. I don’t think anyone realizes how hard it was. I had to downplay it because I didn’t want to lose either.

My health had been so impacted that for many months my therapist, doctors, and family were all telling me to cut back – I knew I needed to too. I just couldn’t figure out how. I did go down to 4 days a week at my day job in the last few months on the job which really helped, but still very difficult.

And so here I am. For the last few months and for the foreseeable future, I get to focus on Yoga-urt and my health. It’s hard for me to believe. I don’t have to be in an office Mon-Fri. This is a HUGE change for me.

One of the questions I have been asked the most during the last few years is, so do you enjoy being your own boss? Must be great. And my response has been, I have no idea, I’m an employee 40+ hours a week.

Well, not anymore, at least for now.

I honestly feel like I can breathe again. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a full-time job with Yoga-urt, but I have more flexibility to my schedule. I can control it. And I can add in some things like maybe a social life or something fun.

So, I’m trying to find balance again. I have lots of things I want to do with Yoga-urt, and I’m working on them, but at my own pace so I can rest and have a life at the same time.

It was sad to say goodbye to my co-workers and hopefully they’ll visit me at Yoga-urt. They are a huge part of my story that I will always treasure.

Change. Transition. I’m so excited to see what this means for me and Yoga-urt. It was time!

With Phil Hettema from The Hettema Group where I worked

Yoga-urt on “Eye on L.A.”

Tonight, Yoga-urt had its TV debut on ABC’s TV Show “Eye on L.A.”.

I was so excited and nervous all day because even though I felt the taping went well, I didn’t get to see the clip so had no idea how it would come together. My goal was to represent Yoga-urt well and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

The day they came was a typical crazy day in the life of Melissa! I still have my day job as a Producer in the theme park design world and so I was in client meetings all day. I snuck out just before lunchtime to head to Yoga-urt for the shoot and then raced back to work afterwards for more client meetings.

That’s the story of the last few years for me – from theme park design to Yoga-urt and then back again. My life is absolutely crazy juggling both and bringing my A game for it all. Plus so many other challenges that no one really knows about.

But Yoga-urt has my heart and always will. Every time I’m there, someone thanks me for bringing it to life, tells me how far they drove to come, that they tell all of their friends & family about it, and it means the world to me.

This was a milestone for Yoga-urt and me. My journey bringing Yoga-urt to life has been such a roller coaster ride. But this was definitely a good moment and I’m glad I got to share it with everyone!

Our New Wall

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. I’ve been wanting to post as so much has been happening and I’m hoping to do one more this week too!

So how am I and Yoga-urt doing? Yoga-urt has been doing well thanks to all of you and this unusually warm winter (that is until this week). We’re having a good start to the year and are having a lot of fun right now with our 3rd Annual Month of February Pint-O-Rama.

Last week, we made a big change to our exterior – we got rid of the chalk wall and replaced it with a mural. Believe me, this was a hard decision as the chalk wall was one of my favorite parts of the store. I LOVED reading your messages, the inspiring quotes, the beautiful drawings, etc. I was obsessed with this wall and wanted it to inspire people and make them feel good.

But, the wall would get messy so quickly. People would sometimes write over other people’s beautiful messages and drawings, kids would scribble, and it was hard to keep up with it. It was a lot of work and very stressful for me. Sometimes I’d be at my day job and look at the camera and see kids scribbling all over it. Made me so sad.

So I decided about 6 months ago that I wanted to make a change – but what would it be? I hired a L.A. Muralist I had seen on Instagram to work with me on it, but I still had to come up with what it would be. I had a few ideas that she mocked up, but we weren’t getting there. So I paused, took a month or so to not think about it and then came back to it.

I researched a few walls in L.A. and the hearts spoke to me. At Yoga-urt, I feel like we are serving love. Yes, it’s organic/vegan softserve/icecream, but when we do it right we are serving you love. That was always the goal of Yoga-urt, to make our customers feel loved & happy.

I always knew I wanted to incorporate the beautiful words in our flavor names on the wall – Zen, Bliss, Serenity, Harmony, Power, Abundance, etc. as they are feel good words, so it was clear they could go in the hearts. And then one of my team members mentioned adding cones beneath the hearts and I thought it would be great to do that on a few of the hearts to show that the hearts represent the softserve/icecream – serving love!

As for the colors, some were from our brand/logo and there were a few new ones too.

I’m really happy with the wall. It’s beautiful, I feel still inspiring, makes you feel good as you enter the store, and is meaningful to me. What more could I ask for.

As for how I’m doing, I’m okay. Not going to lie and say I’ve had an easy few weeks (or years really), but when challenging situations come up you need to go through them to get to the other side. I’m in the middle of a few challenging situations, but I see some light at the end of the tunnel. And regardless of where this journey takes me, all I can do is learn from my mistakes, try to do better, and stand up for myself. It’s amazing really that I’ve come so far on this now 8 year journey and I’m so grateful to all that have supported me.

2017: Year of Promise

Happy New Year everyone!

At the end of each year, I try to summarize it with one word. I had a hard time finding just one word for Yoga-urt this year, but what I settled on is PROMISE.

Promise that we are fulfilling what I set out to do and hope for all I want to do in the future. The potential of growing in whichever way is meant to be. PROMISE.

2017 was a good year for Yoga-urt. Our customers showed up for us in a big way. Coming to the store, buying pints, buying pies, sharing photos on social media, bringing friends and family, and bringing your good energy.

I can’t express enough how much your kind words and support mean to me. Although Yoga-urt had a good year, I had to deal with a lot of behind the scenes challenges that were very painful. But it’s a new year and so hopefully that is behind me now.

But the month of December also had many curveballs. My main soft Serve maker injured herself in mid December, just when my other two were taking time off for the holidays. So I basically had no soft Serve makers for the holidays. Luckily, I called 2 previous employees and they were able to cover for a few weeks – lifesavers.

I had 3 new team members start as 4 of my cashiers/servers took off multiple weeks for the holidays. It was a bit stressful but we made it.

I worked Christmas Day by myself. For the first time, I decided to be open and work the store that day which was a lot of fun.

The only downside the last few weeks is I did not get the time off I so desperately need. My day job closed between Christmas & New Years, so I had a big break from that which was nice. All I wanted to do was sleep in, do yoga, meet a friend or two, and not have a schedule for most of the days. My life is so scheduled all of the time so to have free days are such a gift.

But that didn’t happen.

Yoga-urt things kept popping up. Two promotional videos were filmed (one for Jane Velez-Mitchell’s Lunch Break Live), a did a demo on our product/store, had to fill in on soft serve making here and there, and it just never ended. Mostly good stuff, but a lot of work.

So unfortunately, I’m not headed into 2018 well rested but very fulfilled with a great December.

For me personally, this was a very dark year. My foundations were rocked to their core and nothing seemed safe. I know it was tough for many others also. I need to practice more self care and take a little break here and there. That is my hope as 2018 begins.

Mint Magic

Slice of Peanut Butter Prana & Chocolate Bliss swirl pie

December Sundaes

With Jane Velez-Mitchell filming an episode of Lunch Break Live

Demo at Live on Green

Yoga-urt Pies

Somehow, we pulled off our new pies for Thanksgiving and I think it was successful but it all happened so quickly.

We are always looking at ways to use the leftover almond pulp from making the soft Serve, and so creating a pie crust has been on my list for a while.

One of our soft serve makers went to work on the pie recipe and I approved the recipe a few weeks before Thanksgiving…I loved it. Tasted really good but you could also tell it was clean and healthy.

But then we still had to figure out how to fill the pies, what to include, etc.

I experimented a bit and was SO HAPPY with the results. Very simple but very tasty. And they looked beautiful.

So about 1 week before Thanksgiving, we finalized the pie recipes and I made a few so I could get some pictures. The pictures turned out even better than I thought. So that left one week to post and market the pies in order to get orders placed for Thanksgiving.

I posted the pics on social media, in our newsletter, etc., and the orders came in. It felt so good that people were excited and trusted that they would be good. We got more orders than I thought!

Last orders came in on Sunday, so that left just a few days to make everything. Pies. Pies. Pies. I made a bunch. My team members made a bunch. They were all picked up the Tues or Wed before Thanksgiving. Somehow it all worked!

I truly hope that each and every one was enjoyed. I feel so grateful that Yoga-urt was a part of your holiday.

And yes, we are bringing them back for the December holidays, and hope to bring them back more often next year!