Most of us have heard "Practise makes Perfect", "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again", "Winners never quit, Quitters never win", and lots of various versions effectively meaning the same thing - NEVER GIVE UP BECAUSE GIVING UP IS FAILURE, AND FAILURE IS FOR LOSERS.
It's very true, failure sucks. No one likes to Instagram it, tweet it or really talk about it. If someone DOES succeed at something it's so much cooler to claim it was A RAGING OVERNIGHT SUCCESS. For example, I'd love to pretend our brand spanking new Zebra rainbow Cake was born in 60 seconds with just pure genius, no sweat, no tears - we're just THAT COOL.
It was as simple as seeing a poster of Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat and thinking there MUST be a way to get those stripy colours inside EACH layer. Lo' n behold, The School of Google had a bunch of Pinterest and Youtube tutorials for Rainbow sponges so we thought yeah job done - how easy was that?! And overnight we had our Perfect Zebra Rainbow Cake joining our fabulous growing cake collection! Pillow-soft Vanilla bean sponge layers in colourful zebra stripes, vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, colourful chocolate drips, sprinkles, marshmallow truffles aka Muffles, and colourful chocolate shards.
That was the fantasy cool story there - the kind I would share on Instagram. The reality is that we had about a week of fails with 12 flop cakes equating hours of 'wasted' time, kilos of 'wasted' ingredients and a vat of frustration before we finally reached the pot of gold at the end of the perfect Zebra Rainbow cake.
We worked HARD, and with each fail we tried to learn how to make it work better next time, so none of those hours or ingredients were a waste because it all lead to this beautiful beast of a cake.
Ta-da! Lovely bright Zebra Rainbow stripes!
As much as trying, trying, and trying again is an important path to gaining my Zebra Rainbow cake stripes, I also had to learn another VERY important lesson in recent times - that is learning when to STOP trying.
As some of you may know, we used to have a shop - a gorgeous shop in a fancy part of town in London (Kensington) which won a few awards in its short life of 2 years. When we opened it in 2014, we unfortunately had a few bitter neighbouring businesses who loved nothing more than to trash talk about us for any silly reason (one of them was run by a racist, and the other was run by a sexist - there was no way I was winning with either of them...). They gossiped to anyone who'd listen spreading rumours that we'd wrap up in 6 months, no one wants cake here, no one wants more coffee here, no one wants a foreign shop owner here blah blah. I guess by beating their estimate through "lasting" two years I can only hope they had actually placed hefty bets which they've lost as that is really the only solace I can find at the end of trying, trying and trying some more to make it "work".
I've previously posted about our decision to close the shop in order to focus on the profitable aspects of the business, which is online and becoming the best-selling cake brand at Selfridges.
In light of the Tata Steel factory drama in Port Talbot all my trains of thought during those difficult months came flooding back. Although at a micro scale compared to Tata, our business changed. It was only my emotional ties and the fear of being viewed as a "failure" that was holding me back from closing the physical shop, and gosh we fought so many battles on such limited resources to not succumb to the inevitable. Eventually, I had to learn to stop trying. Running the shop was hurting us, stopping us from growing and running with the parts of the business that were so rewarding, and hence I had to swallow a (figurative) pill to kill my pride and decide enough was enough.
As a small business the highs are like WHOA ON TOP OF THE WORLD CHECK OUT MY ZEBRA RAINBOW STRIPES, and the lows are extremely lonely, isolating and scary. Facing failures of any shape or form is as challenging as striving to succeed. While the shop closing can be considered a form of 'failure', I am glad it was part of our journey and the only thing I regret is not recognising sooner when to stop trying.
If you're fighting hard to save something - whether it's a relationship or a business or whatever, I hope reading this makes you feel less lonely. Keep on moving and chasing the rainbow.
Lots of love,