When Life Gives You Lemons

I was fired on Friday, June 3rd. When that happened, I really did not know what to do with myself at first. I went home and tried to start looking into ways to make money almost immediately. But I actually ended up going to lunch with the intern, taking saki bombs then continuing to drink the rest of the day, haha. Then I stupidly decided to go to hot yoga with a friend, literally one of the worst ideas I ever had… The next week I looked into different ways to make money, reached out to a previous employer about part-time work and started doing more chili research. As I said in the preface, I had already started conversations about the truck which was great. 

All the next week, I kept saying that being fired was actually good, I was happy about it and it was really a blessing in disguise. I would say “I’m happy about it I’m just really sad/mad in the way that it was done.” But let me be honest, getting fired fucking sucks. It made me feel like shit, that I didn’t mean anything to them, hadn’t done anything useful and was just not a useful/meaningful person. And I think that’s why I tried hard that week to find something to do so I could feel like I was needed. The only successful thing I did that week was have another meeting with my, then potential, partners. It went really well and they seemed really excited about the chili idea. Even though the meeting went well, by the end of the week I had convinced myself that my number one option was to travel the world for a year and a half AND THEN do something real with my life. 

That weekend was definitely a blessing, by the end of it I felt like someone cared about me again. A 2016 VFA Fellow was in Pittsburgh because the company she was going to work for wanted to have a few meetings. It was a generally funny situation because the company she was going to work for was my previous one. She received an offer right before I was fired so some might say she was my “replacement.” But I had no hard feeling towards her and we had gotten to know each other pretty well when she was in town for her onsite interview so she stayed in my roommate and I’s spare bedroom.

Anyways, we hung out for 3.5 days straight and it was never a dull moment, we always had something to laugh, joke, argue, or just talk about. We were kinda just in our own bubble for the weekend and it was just what I needed. She is definitely part of the reason that I decided to go with the food truck and not travel the world sooner than I did. She really beat it into me that opportunities like this don’t come around all that often. And for some reason I trusted her opinion, maybe because she had tried to start a couple companies previously and none worked out so she knew the struggle. But I’m literally in the perfect situation to start Revival Chili so why not do it, there is plenty of time in life to travel. 

I keep talking about the business but I still haven’t really said what it is so here it goes. In one sentence it is a chili food truck that only hires ex-cons, sources produce from local farms and mainly runs off solar panels. Here is the mission statement I included in the first iteration of my business plan:

The primary goal of Revival Chili is to positively impact every single persons life that the business touches. We are able to do this by providing jobs for ex-convicts, sourcing (almost) all produce from local farms and running the food truck off of solar panels and cooking oil. Our aim is to create a culture of sustainability in the food industry. Not only by using sustainable energy but also promoting safe, sustainable growing practices and a sustainable business with employees creating their own trucks. 

Now the reason I am in the perfect position for this is through the relationships I developed while working for the incubator. The main partner I keep mentioning is called Zero-Six-Eight (from now on referred to as 068). They are a company that incubates ex-cons with ideas and people that want to hire ex-cons. They also build tiny homes so the chili truck will actually be a chili tiny kitchen. They also have access to capital which is where I will be getting a lot of the funding. Another relationship is one of the companies that applied to the incubator I was working for - Cropolis. They connect local farms with restaurants to make it easier to source produce from the farms. The last main relationship is the green energy company we used for Thrival 2015. They have outfitted several food trucks with solar panels before and I spoke to them about outfitting mine. Now you can understand why I need to start Revival Chili - like right meow. And I am so grateful to be put in the situation where I can make this opportunity a reality. So many people don’t have this chance and I am so lucky to be able to follow my dream so soon. And it’s pretty obvious now but I decided I would do it.

I signed a lease in Pittsburgh for the next year, started doing more research on the different things I would need for the truck and got shit started. It really was a blessing I was fired because I was not happy at all working for the incubator. I wanted to be happy so badly because I loved talking about Thrival, what we were doing and saying I worked for a music festival. I still kind of wish that I still worked there just so I could see Thrival 2016 through but that’s not how it’s gonna be. When life gives you lemons, you gotta use them to trade for bigger and better things to make yourself successful.