A Door Slams a Window Cracks Open
by Heather Fortes May 30, 2020
Are you as tired of hearing the word pivot as I am? In my previous life, the word ‘pivot’ always sounded to me like a desperate marketing move. Thrown out desperately when sales were down, or the company got negative press. But now, in the last week of May of 2020, pivot has a whole new meaning for so many of us. Especially small business owners.
The Old Days
In the old days, and by that I mean any day before March 14, 2020, I was just humming along growing my new food tour business, SacTown Bites – Food Tour Adventures. In December of 2018 I came to the realization that not only did I no longer want my job, but soon enough they would no longer want me. I spent my entire career in the world of commercial photography, starting off as the lowliest (and lets acknowledge usually the hardest working) role of production assistant. Over the years I wore pretty much every hat imaginable, including as a lifestyle and food shooter and a studio manager and art director of a large, beloved home good retailer. On a cold December night, out to dinner with family, I had an epiphany that I no longer wanted to be on the path that I was on. That is the night I decided to start a food tour company.
There is no better feeling than building and creating something of your own. And when that something serves a community need (really, Sacramento needed this), contributes to the economy and is a personal passion it’s incredibly gratifying. Fast forward less than a year
from deciding to ‘pivot’ and I launched SacTown Bites… and never looked back. It was successful from day one, tour one. I began the new year looking forward to launching additional tours, hiring people to help me guide tours, and having a busy Spring and Summer season. I was super excited for my new venture.
Like so many of you, really, everyone, I have had to confront a lot of unknowns these last few months. I lost my job, and restaurants everywhere have closed indefinitely, and I’ve been trying to support our daughter in navigating remote learning. I spent weeks (ok, honestly months) ruminating. Baking bread, cooking huge pots of beans, cleaning closets, helping my husband getting our yard tidy and starting a garden. We began beekeeping again after a two year hiatus. And we just got baby chicks to replace our beloved chickens that met a sad end a few months ago, presumably by a raccoon. I really didn’t want to deal with how to ‘pivot’ yet again.
A New Beginning
Finally coming out of my fog I realized I do not need to pivot. I just need to stay focused on what I love. My food tour business is still in hibernation. I really do not know when I will begin giving walking food tours again. I need to let my restaurants get back on their feet and sort through the constantly fluctuating guidelines. I do not want to begin giving those tours again until everyone feels comfortable to be in a restaurant and is excited about it. However, I am launching a new offering that will continue to fill a need and support our food community. And, I am super excited about it.
Farm To Fork in a Box
I’ve launched a subscription box program that will be filled with locally grown, locally sourced and hand crafted products from the Sacramento Valley. Think food tour in a box. Sacramento, California is one of the richest growing regions in the world. It is also home to incredibly talented, creative and passionate people. The monthly boxes will be filled with everything from award winning olive oils to hand-crafted preserves, infused honey, to culinary spice blends. The boxes can be purchased once or for three or twelve consecutive months. It’s been especially rewarding meeting the farmers and makers that are so passionate about their products. I will also be offering a guided farm tour in the region where we will visit some of the very same farmers and makers, and of course eat and drink their goods. When I will launch that remains to be seen based on so many unknowns right now.
A Door Slams and a Window Cracks Open
When I was managing the photo studio and a large team of mostly young people, I would often tell them that if you are really happy with how things are right now, great. But change is inevitable and things will change. The same is true for when you are miserable, things won’t be like that forever. And in my experience, it has always been true that when a door closes a window opens. The pandemic has felt like a door slamming. But a window has cracked open. And rather than pivot, I’m taking the window.