09 September 2011
I'm Coming Out
A few years back, I had planned to open a cupcake store. I started writing a business plan, I attended several reunions at the Chambre de Commerce and I signed up on a few different real estate sites to get alerts on properties that met my criteria. Then I found out I was pregnant, and so those plans kind of went out the window. In the interim, I started my small business, first as Little Miss Cupcake now as Sugar Daze, and I have watched my two babies grow practically side-by-side. My real baby heads off to school this week and for the past several months, I have been thinking about what this means for my business baby.
If any of you were in France over the summer, you know what a lousy summer it was weather-wise. I was stuck for about 10 days on the West Coast with my kids in the cold and rain with nothing more than a few cable channels and my iPhone to entertain us. One afternoon as I was going through my spam mail, I saw I had received a list of available properties from one of the sites I had signed up with all those years ago and having nothing better to do, I opened it. A quick scan of the properties and 1 in particular popped out at me. Here in France, if you want to rent a commercial space, one of the things you will encounter is the "droit au bail" or the right to a lease -- usually an exorbitant fee that needs to be paid upfront in order to then have the pleasure of paying a monthly rent. This droit au bail....not so bad. And the rent? well, I could swing it with my current revenue as a part-time business. Imagine if I worked more like full-time?
Upon my return to Paris, I called up the realtor and I went to visit the site. It has a lot of promise. Subsequent visits have shown some flaws which are more than skin-deep but we'll see what the contractors have to say. I'm still terribly torn about not being "accessible mom" like I have been for the past 8 1/2 years. I worry that while traveling down this path, I will never see my kids again. In all honesty, I figured this next step was still a few years down the road. But then I saw what I think is an exceptional deal, and my heart told me to check it out. I'm also still debating what exactly I want this space to be....a site with a commercial kitchen? A space where I can offer classes? A traditional store? Time will tell. And maybe this whole thing won't go anywhere. But since I have so many people write me often for advice on starting a business here in France, I thought I would share this adventure with you and try to document the process here. More to come on this!
Lastly, I have reached out to many of you in the business since starting to explore this idea and I just wanted to say an enormous thank you to Jane, Aimee, Rebecca, Liz, Louie, Sam and Sylvie (I hope I'm not forgetting anyone). Your help and advice has been invaluable! And also thank you to Lindsey, Bryan, Meg, Jennifer and Lili -- my friends and cupcake fans! I so appreciate the time you have taken out of your busy schedules to help me and share some encouraging words.