The lease is signed, the keys are ours, and we have twenty-seven months now to go from a standing start to proof that we’ve been able to develop, evolve and implement a viable, profitable business model. There are so many moving parts it’s really an amazing experience and we’ve only just begun the journey.
This week, in addition to completing the final review and signing the lease, we also filed our last trademark registrations (were told to expect to wait three to four months for an answer). We also got into the space, took measurements and put together a floor plan to start working from. Were going to work with Clay on the physical layout (in addition to other general business issues) to make sure we get it right, or at least as close to that ideal as possible, from the beginning.
Leslie went to visit the city of Milpitas this week to find out what permits we need and how we get started. What we were told is that we need to submit two copies of our plans for the facility one to them (the city) and another to the health department for approval before we can do anything. They also (strongly) advised us to use an architect to do the drawings. Apparently DIY on this part is synonymous with delays. Needless to say, job one in the coming week is to find an architect. We really cant DO anything with the architect just yet (well need the proposed layout for that), but we do need to at least figure out who were going to work with and find out how they do business.
After reading the admonishments in other discussion threads, and in recognition of the fact that neither one of us is a poet, were heeding the wisdom of those who have gone before us and (re-)engaging with a design house we started working with earlier in the year on packaging concepts. They aren’t cheap but they do some really exceptional work. Were leaning very heavily toward having them do our marketing copy, our website, package copy the works. Well stick to making chocolate and selling it.
Taking a brief moment to pause and reflect, several things have already become quite evident as we’ve made our way to this humble first milestone: things seem to always take a LOT longer, and they seem to cost quite a bit more than what we first thought they would. Not really a surprise we built that into our plans right up front (unknown unknowns, and contingencies). What has been a surprise is the magnitude of the difference. While not ideal, in some ways these inevitable timeline delays are a blessing as they’re giving us more time to plan, develop our business plan, test our ideas and breathe. Our costs, even with the building and the occasional surprises, are reasonably low and we can support the expenses for the duration of the lease with or without sales (that’s not the plan don’t get us wrong just noting that it wont shut us down). On the upside, we’ve been amazed at the generosity, kindness, patience and support of the people we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know along the way in our still-young, but already incredible journey not the least among them, the many members of The Chocolate Life.
Things may move a little slower yet for the next couple of weeks on the business front Leslies heading back to TN for a couple of weeks to welcome our first two grandkids into the world. Yep, her daughter is having twins(!). D-day (delivery day) is sometime between right now and a week from Tuesday. I hope to join her there for at least a couple of days shortly after the grand event providing my schedule cooperates. Given the choice between giving birth to a chocolate shop, or giving birth to twins, personally, I think Leslie and I have it easier!
Excited (on multiple fronts!) in Milpitas, CA,
David and Leslie