Thoughts So Geek - the owner's blog

  • A minute to process - on the passing of Anthony Bourdain

     Anthony Bourdain is dead and reports state it was suicide.

      It’s 10:00 am on a Friday and I have a ton of work to get done for cakes this weekend, but I can’t focus. I can’t process this effectively yet to move on and go about my day. I woke up to this headline on my social media and it left me aching inside, and, frankly, this is my way of dealing with this.

      Let’s be clear, I never met Bourdain in person, didn’t know him in any more significant way than anyone can know an author or television personality. But, yet, having read his works, having consumed his programs and appearances, I began to feel a comradery with him.

      The brash, outspoken chef was a favorite of mine for his travel shows, his willingness to say things that others wouldn’t (and mean them…that’s the truly important part), and his openness to trying new things. I would watch from week to week his travels to the lesser visited areas of popular destinations, his encounters with people that were real and genuine, his search for experiences that reverberated with the soul and I would think to myself “Wow, that’d be great to do someday” and then be honest with myself and know that I wouldn’t be comfortable enough to do that to the level he was showing. With a show like “No Reservations,” Bourdain maintained that we shouldn’t be afraid to connect with people, to say what we’re thinking, or to experience connections at one on one level. I knew in my heart that no matter how much I would like to step outside my comfort zone and interact with new people with true conversations, I probably never would and that made me even more thankful for him and his willingness to do it.

     And now, the question is whether he was willing to do it. If it hurt him to do it. If he had reservations about reaching out for help.

     I was late to Bourdain’s first major writing work, Kitchen Confidential, but, as a former kitchen employee in the fine dining world, I related to so many of his stories, the good and the bad. The coworkers who were willing to open up and provide lessons on cooking and restaurant life while they struggled themselves with all sorts of other issues, personal or professional. The crazy situations that would arise from working with food daily, the rules you learn about eating out, what to eat and not eat given the location, the day of the week and more. And after reading it, I felt a kinship with the author, knowing that no matter how different our backgrounds might be, our life trajectories, etc, we shared a common language and experience.

      But now I wonder if we do really share that language and experience. You see, for me, I’ve learned some important lessons in my life. I’ve had issues with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. I’ve lived in a family that has hereditary issues with mental illness and hearing someone has headed back into a “behavioral clinic” or rehab is something I’ve become used to. I’ve had frightening interactions with loved ones who were going through terrible moments in their lives either due to undiagnosed issues, failing to take the medicines that would clear their minds of the overwhelming and confusing thoughts, or just that the world had been overly harsh recently and the weight had become too much for them to bear.

      But I’ve been lucky enough to learn that there is no shame in this. There is nothing wrong at all with dealing with the thoughts that may flash across your mind at the worst moments. There is nothing wrong at all with seeking help. There is nothing wrong with taking a pill that makes your mind clear, your soul stronger, and your true self shine through. There is nothing wrong with talking to someone when there is too much to process yourself. And there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Ever. End of sentence.

      It hurts when we lose people. Death will always be a normal part of life. There’s no way around that. But, it hurts even more when we lose people and know that that we could have stopped it. When a kind word, a moment’s conversation or question, or being there when they need someone could make all the difference could have kept that person here. As I’m writing this, I will freely admit that there are tears running down my cheeks. It’s partially because of Anthony Bourdain’s passing, but more so because I know that it wasn’t necessary for him to be gone. That somewhere along the line a key interaction didn’t happen. An opportunity for that kind word went unsaid. And the conversation that could have changed his mind about things wasn’t had.

      I’m not an expert on these things. I’ll freely admit that. I can even admit that I know I’m not the most empathetic person in the world and I struggle with connecting to every person I should. But there are experts out there. There are people who, frankly, are my heroes. Every day, counselors are willing to listen to you. Every day, there are people across the world whose very job is to be that friendly face in the storm, that hand that helps you up, and that smile when you feel there is nothing left but darkness.

      And I try and support them. I may not be the light in the dark for people (even though I’ll be here if ANYONE EVER NEEDS IT!!!), but I can help pay to keep their lights shining. That’s why we have chosen to support Stop Suicide NE Indiana this year. It’s why any charity event we have will provide funds to them. This coalition of counselors from tons of different mental health groups in our area have put together ways to help with prevention of suicide, suicide counseling, and counseling for those who are left after a suicide occurs. When you call the national suicide prevention hotline, these are the local people that you will be talking to. They are a tremendous group of people doing their best to make sure that Northeast Indiana doesn’t have to go through moments like today. To make sure that there is always someone to talk to, someone who will connect with you, and someone who can assure you that it will get better.

      We rejoice in so many things in this world, the strength of athletes, the wisdom of sages and scientists, the comforts of entertainment, and the joys of a meal together to just mention a few. But we should truly rejoice and be thankful for those among us who are willing to help our fellow man at their darkest moments. There’s always someone who can help. Always.

      If you or someone you know needs to talk with one of these heroes, don’t hesitate. Reach out to them via the national hotline, which routes to a local person who is willing to listen to you, to help you, to be there for you. If you need help, you should truly have no reservations. Reach out at 1-800-273-TALK. 

    https://www.stopsuicidenow.org/

  • A New Day...A New Dawn...

     It's been an odd time here at Sweets So Geek. We've gone through a lot of changes over the last few months and we're slowly coming out of things stronger and positioned to be better than ever. 

     We've said goodbye to people that have worked for us for what feels like forever. And that was hard. Endings are often more difficult than beginnings. Gravity brings objects together and separating those objects requires a stronger force. Sometimes that force leaves chaos in its wake.

     We've welcomed new faces into the Sweets So Geek kitchen. And that's not always easy. Adapting to new ideas, teaching the ways you do things, evaluating what works and what doesn't...it's all a process. And it's all change. And, at the end of the day, who truly likes change? Change is abrasive to the calluses that time builds and forces us to new ways of thinking and acting. But, without change, there is no growth.

     We've had to think about the business and the way it's set to grow. We've encountered amazing growth in the last few months, booking more cakes than ever before, developing new partnerships that are exciting, and creating more and more events. Growth is scary. It's great to have it, but it means more...more work...more expectations...more needed to keep things growing. 

     But, through it all, we're on track to make 2018 the best year of Sweets So Geek ever. We've adapted to the changes, altered our way of thinking, and are moving into the future with a hopeful and triumphant smile. 

     Welcome to Sweets 2.0. 

  • 3 years...

    This week marks the three year anniversary of opening our retail shop and I can honestly say that I've learned so much during that time. I thought I'd share a few of the lessons.

     Humility: I have been humbled by this business. I have have been exalted by the happiness that we have brought into people's lives, the good that we've done in our neighborhood, our community, and in individual lives. And I have learned that for all these highs, there are so many lows to balance things out. There have been times where I have been brought so low by the pressures of the day to day operations and all that goes with running a business that I've been in actual tears. And for each of those moments, I've realized that owning a business is a struggle and a fight, every day. 

     Friendship: I have made friends in this job that I would never have expected. Customers who I have come to call friends and brothers. I've met so many like-minded individuals who understand the struggle to own their own business, have the freedom to exercise their creativity and ideas and still survive, and know the joys that go with that struggle. I'm so thankful for all of these friends. 

     Employees: I've had the pleasure to work with many great folks at the shop. Some who are now a part of my family in many ways. And, I've had the flipside to that as well. I've learned that good help, as the saying goes, is hard to find. And, beyond that, good help that cares is even harder to find. When you find them, keep them. Keep them close, and do everything you can to make them understand how much you need and appreciate them. As for those that don't help you advance your business, don't waste time on them. Don't be afraid to cut ties when it's needed. It's hard, especially if you're able to see the good in everyone, but, there's no need to keep people that don't help your business.

     Hard Work: Simply put, it takes a ton of hard work to make a business work. It is not the freedom that most people think it is. It is a commitment to an idea and in the case of select lucky people, it's a commitment to a passion. That passion becomes the most driving force in your life. It becomes difficult to turn it off. You hear an email come in on your phone at 11:00 pm, you immediately look at it and respond. You work till 2:00 in the morning on a regular basis. You can't stop thinking about the business and start comparing your business to everyone else's. You go to dinner and think how you would do things differently, and better. And you run the risk of ostracizing those around you. Which brings me to the last and most important thing:

     Family: There are those people who make it possible to follow your dream. And they aren't all related by blood, but some are, and they are the ones that may not understand your dream, but they believe in your passion, your will, and overall, you. These people will move heaven and earth to make your dream succeed. Whatever that means. It's hard, but, simply put, acknowledge and nurture those relationships. 

     I've learned so many more things in the last three years, but these are just a few concepts that I thought I'd share...now it's time to get back to work. 

     

     

  • A little history...

    One of the strangest things we encounter every day in the store is the fact that we constantly have new customers. Now, I know, the first thing you're thinking after that is probably something like "Um, don't you want new customers?" 

     Yes, yes we do. But, we started small. We're still a small business. And the surprising aspect is that we keep thinking we'll hit a plateau of new customers. That we must have reached every geek or pop culture nerd in our area. And then someone stops into the store and they've never heard of us before. And when that happens for me, I'm kind of blown away. 

     We're coming up on our third year as a retail store. Prior to that, we worked out of a commercial kitchen for a year, and prior to that, we made chocolates and cakes out of our home kitchen for two years. So, when someone is just joining us on our journey, there are almost six years of history at this point. And that's not even the tip of the iceberg. 

     Which brings me to the history. I figured, for anyone that is interested, I'd write up a brief bit about how we got to this point. There's always more to a story, and I will probably elucidate over specific moments in the future, but the general timeline of Sweets So Geek is as follows:

     I worked as a dishwasher for an amazing restaurant in Muncie, IN shortly after Heather and I were married in 2000. I never wanted to be a dishwasher and I would come in way before my shift started to learn from all the talented people working. Eventually, I gained the skills of a pastry chef and realized that desserts were where it is at.

     And then the restaurant closed. 

     It wasn't due to making or losing money, but just that the owner didn't want to find a new executive chef when ours took a new position. But it left me with choices to make. Eventually, I landed a management job just to make money and the thoughts of a career in the restaurant world vanished as our first child was born. 

     Several years later I completed a personal dream and goal and received my degree in Elementary Education. But, after going to school and essentially living on a single income, I needed to make money for our family and the teaching market wasn't super solid at the time. I tell people that I was "too poor to teach," and it was true. Instead, I took a job in business sales and though I did earn a tidy living, I HATED my job. My wife implored me to find something to make myself happy and I stumbled across a Han Solo in Carbonite ice tray and in that instant, our business was born. 

     I made some chocolates for friends and family and gave one to an amazing small business owner where I purchased the tray and he asked if I wanted to sell them. I was baffled that anyone would want them, but, after discussing it with my wife, we packaged a few and tried it out. And low and behold, people liked them. 

     We sold at a couple stores, but mainly we started selling at comic conventions and festivals and markets. It soon became something that we had to call in the family to help with and we moved into a commercial kitchen. 

     When that stopped being ideal, we made the hard choice of whether we would continue with the business or scale it back and just do it occasionally. You can guess what we chose. 

     We found a space that seemed to work for us mere blocks from our home and considered it kismet. We expanded upon the chocolates with desserts and custom cakes and then added ice cream events and now, I can honestly say that I'm happier than ever, though I work more than ever, and couldn't imagine life without Sweets So Geek.

     So, that's a quick foundation of our story. If you'd like to know more, stop in and talk with us. Let us know you're new, or an old fan, or when you first heard about us. It will continue to surprise us and make all the hard work worth it!

  • Thoughts on the fall and all it entails

     It's starting. School has reconvened, temperatures are starting to dip, and I had to pull out an extra blanket. That means that fall is right around the corner, which, for us, means that we're going to be entering the extra busy season here at Sweets So Geek. 

     Maybe it's the unique mix of items and events we offer, maybe it's that people are back from the lakes, vacations, and the general slow down of the summer, or maybe it's that we just pack ourselves full of things to do, but we are always super busy during the fall season. This year is no exception.

     So, we wanted to run down all the amazing things we have going so far to give you a chance to make your plans now or place those special orders early to ensure we can make that special item for you! These are just the events that we've committed to so far! On top of these, we have countless wedding and custom cakes (12 in October alone) and so many other amazing things to create, like new ice cream flavors, special menus, and new treats for the holidays! To say we're busy is an understatement. What this really means is that's it super important to place custom orders early!

     September:

     September 2 - One Night D&D adventure, 7:00 pm -finished

     September 9th - Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone free outdoor showing - 7:30 pm

     September 10th - North Anthony Corridor Block Party - 1-6 pm

     September 23 - One Night D&D Adventure - 7:00 pm finished

     October

     October 5th - IPFW Alumni Association Mastodon Roast

     October 7th - Sci-Fi Central - 10-5

     October 7th - Beetlejuice free outdoor showing - 7:00pm-finished

     October 8th - Fort Wayne's Bridal Spectacular & Beyond - 12-4

     October 20-22 - Grand Rapids Comic Con

     October 27 - 3 Year Anniversary Celebration & Stranger Things pajama party

     

  • Our first annual T-Shirt Design Contest!

    Ladies and Gentleman, far and wide...we are announcing a contest. A contest for the artists out there. We want to make the most killer t-shirts around, and we want to see your designs. And, we're going to pay the winner. Here're the rules: Use our name, Fort Wayne, IN, website (if you want), and it can't cause me to shake my head or have a "conversation" with my kids. The winning design will be printed up and offered for sale, and the winning designer will receive a choice of a cash prize of $75, a store gift certificate of $125, and will receive a portion of all sales of the shirts! Entries can be emailed to Chad@SweetsSoGeek.com, sent via messenger, or strapped to the back of a carrier owl and mailed to us at 3410 N. Anthony Blvd., Fort Wayne, IN, 46805! #sweetssogeek#tshirtdesign #contest #cashprize #fameandfortune #artistsunite#callingallartists #overthetopiswherewestart