Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga

It was such a treat to be a vendor at Hunter’s “Bands on the Bluff” this month. It was a very short gig (about an hour and a half) but because there was anticipation for Boba Tea, it was a major success! Everyone loved the product and I was able to sell out with only ONE person missing out on a drink.

I’m looking forward to more events like these. As a vendor, I felt taken care of and valued by the staff, placed where everyone could see, and have been invited to come back for future events! I’m very thankful.

  

Spring Is Here.

The last couple months I’ve been on a winter hiatus and it’s been wonderful.

Unexpectedly, some of the more revealing (yet valuable) moments have happened since October and I’m ready to continue to invest more energy and fresh ideas into all that’s going to be coming this year. While booking is still open in the Tennessee area, and sales have continued since the first event, I’ll be focusing my efforts on making my way to farmers markets in Florida so as to attempt to generate more consistent income from/for the business.

After being in Florida for the winter, I was able to officially become the snowbird I’ve always meant to be. I used to fantasize about winter… you know, long coats and scarves and warm drinks. After having a few “real” [not Florida] Winters, it became obvious to me that I loathe the cold, needing to wear as little layers as possible and be around my family as much as I can be. My small, Philippino body can only handle being cooped up and isolated for 2 weeks, tops. My need to run around, skate, swim, sun-bathe is too great to stay in one part of the country that essentially goes to sleep for 4 months out of the year.

There is still this one truth: Tennessee has definitely become home. When I initially moved here, I thought I’d only be around for 9 months. Now, I really can’t imagine life away from this place. Though I’m having to sacrifice time away this year. As I move forward with BTB, I will be in this area when it’s not cold with the exception of the time it’s going to take to save up and get things moving.

Coming back to Tennessee after this winter, I’ve been able to make a fair amount of return from boba despite the lack of official events. Which, has been surprising and quite affirming. I’m very happy to know that there is a market in this small college town despite how unique and rare this product is in this part of the south. After a few consistent visits, word is getting around town and people are beginning to seek out what I’ve been selling. Nothing is more powerful than word of mouth, I suppose!

Accumulatively, my experiences in the last year have been transformative in the sense that I was able to solidify an understanding of myself that requires consistency.  When I do a single thing for a long enough period of time, I become really good at it. This goes for everything, relationships, character, work, etc. I know this is a “duh” thing… but that hasn’t been the case for me. Most my life I’ve never known how to invest in myself enough to be consistent with most things. Giving myself the “Jane-of-all-trades” syndrome, which has paralyzed me in the pursuit of going in any one direction. Choosing and then being committed enough to try to master that choice has given me a lot of mental freedom to be laser-focused and get really good at anything I set my mind to.

This year is going to be unique to the rest of my life in that I’ll be making major sacrifices to try to see something through, successfully.

I think it’s going to be one of the best years yet!

Baby’s first boba business

Not too long ago Patience, Jillian, and I were sitting in a fro-yo shop, wishing that it was boba tea in our hands. There’s no boba tea in Cleveland, TN and the hankering came pretty hard for all of us. We started to joke around about how we should start our own Boba Business and had no idea how seriously I could (or would) take our musings later on…

After sitting on it for a month or two, I’d decided that this would be a perfect little experiment for me to see how well I’d do running “my own thing” and watching where it’d take me. Patience and Jillian, having plenty on their plates already, were in full support.

I’ve kept myself from trying anything like this in the past because I’m much of a perfectionist and can have the “Go Big or Go Home” mentality. Which, unfortunately, lead me to just “Staying Home” most of the time.

Also, I’d always been really good at working with/for other people and being more of a supportive role in plenty of [really cool] projects. I’ve had little to no practice doing something just because I thought it’d be fun or beneficial to me. I wanted (and I think needed) to know if putting power to my own dream was something that I was capable of doing. I was more than curious.

So, I walked towards the challenge with the encouragement of my friends.

My work for BTB at this point had mostly been dreaming and doing research. I had no idea how quickly it’d be any sort of reality. After the decision was made to take this small-scale business seriously, I started looking for a tea distributor that would help me make some blends of tea that would work well with the tapioca pearls. I got in touch with Tebella in Tampa and we worked on a specific blend that has now become BTB’s Consistent among its other seasonal flavors. Little did I know, I’d be “opening shop” in less than two months!

As soon as I was invited to participate in Free2Fly’s 4th Annual fundraising event (which is a story on its own), I had to kick things into gear very quickly. There were 5 weeks from this point to have everything I needed to run this first iteration of Birch Tree Boba, and I was nowhere near prepared or equipped to do so.

Work went from lofty dreaming to more concrete planning and a need for support from my community.

I made a fundraising video and sent it out to all my closest friends and family. To which, I was able to share my vision and raise enough resources to have things prepared for my first event. Entirely.

Come October 26th I had the material and team support to make my first event a success. 

I sold quite a bit, granted, a lot of people don’t even know what boba is here in Cleveland… handing out samples won over a lot of our sales that day.

I also got a lot of contacts for people who are interested in me coming to there events! Some personal parties, like a baby shower, and the rest- seasonal markets. Eep!

After this first event, I have been able to make enough money to sustain a few more future bookings for BTB. Once those events come through, I’ll just keep the ball rolling and the momentum pushing me forward.

I’M SO EXCITED TO SEE WHERE THIS GOES.

To get a little more sentimental: this opportunity is where I learned just how much people are truly in my corner and willing to support me in such a way that I don’t deserve- where I was able to receive gifts from people as a communication of love instead of entitlement because I knew I could not work for their generosity. I can hardly believe how much time, effort, and resources people were willing to give me to get this thing up and running.

It seems like when you start to love yourself and take yourself seriously, people start to notice and follow suit… it comes as naturally as walking. Once I took the first step towards self-love/motivation/care in my own story, it made it easy for people to know how to love me, practically.

But, honestly, it feels truer to say that it made it easier for me to recognize and receive how much I am already loved.

Now BTB is open and ready for bookings in the Spring! 

Special thanks to the BEST team that I could have asked for on the day of the event: Patience, David, and Emily. I COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS WITHOUT YOU.

And for all those who contributed to BTB in MAJOR ways, THANK YOU:
Mom & Pop – Brandon (also the one who introduced me to boba back in 2012)  – Logan and Jillian (help with the build of my stand design) – Lyss & Jon (web/domain help) – Shelly & Oie (for BTB’s logo !!!) – Kenzie (for the cooler and extension cords) – Linda S. – Kade – The Gerkes – The Lovejoys – Rob C. – Sarah H. – Lander R. – Roger A. – Eric W. – Valerie L. – Aaron K. – Jen & Jon – Graham C. – Whitney W. – Chad C.

Also, a special shout-out to my best friends who contributed in support and encouragement while being broke following their own dreams: Kaeli, Chris, Griffin, George, and Austin.

Maya, I hope you marry your daddy, I love you.

I am so, so thankful and am urged on to do well by all that’s given to me.

Cheers!