Being that this is the first in a series of blog posts about our business, I think it would be kind to prepare you, you'll find a lot in here that has to do with my life, personally. I am unable to separate how I show up in and through my business, from how I show up as a human, a family man, a friend. I am one and the same all around. You get what you get. As you will learn, probably much later in your blog journey through all of this, I have ADHD and Autism, and it won't be until late 2021, that I begin to deal with those. Even then, much of the course of the business will have been determined. I share that now to give context to how I thought and think, and operated in and through the business. I really hope you enjoy the journey as much as I have. Good reading dear friend.
PART 1 - In the Beginning...
Valiant started as a dream. Actually, lots of dreaming. I was dreaming big. A dear friend of mine had just shared a DVD (back when those were still a thing) about a young man's journey "Around Cape Horn" as a novice sailor. This film got me pumped! Here was a way of life we were so distant from. This guy in his late teens was committed to becoming a commercial sailor, when sailing was the primary mode of seafaring. He'd practice by climbing power poles (only 30 feet or less) and trying to balance at the top, knowing full well the mast of the ships he would be on would have masts higher than 100 feet.
Here was the story of a boy becoming a man and at this time in my life, I was looking to do the same. I had always felt an affinity for the ocean, so never-mind that I get motion sick quite easy. I began to dream! I researched gaff rigged schooners of old designed by Herreschoff, the master ship builder who designed Elanor, and Ingomar, two racing schooners from the early 1900's. I read about the build of Bluenose II in Nova Scotia, a replica of the Bluenose built for a Brewery! I read about Mast brothers chocolate hiring Captain Eric who built his 65 ft Schooner on his own over 20 years! I was chuffed, if Captain Eric could build a 65 ft schooner so could I!
This was how it started. When I was roasting those first few batches on our little black roaster in my grandma's tractor garage in newcastle CA, my mind was far from roast science, coffee chemistry, or industry sustainability. I was in dream land. Part of this had to do with my mental state. At this time I was suffering from some intense bouts of PTSD from childhood trauma. These would manifest in stretches of intense detachment from reality, and emotional responses that felt like I was back in the moment of the original traumatic experience. I was not present in reality, I was not paying attention to where we were at, and that led to some serious issues in the first few years.
I will say, that without my dreaming, we would not grow, but I didn't activate my technical side until much later. Competition would bring that out, and I would learn more than I ever imagined. I am continuing to learn more than I imagined.
All that said, when we started, I was not present nor paying attention to the 6 lbs of green coffee tumbling around in the roaster, even though it represented nearly 5% of our fledgling company's net worth. I was not ready to improve and modify systems or packaging or design, or bring in someone else to help because in all honesty, I didn't know what I wanted. My business partner back then was probably frustrated, I'm sure because I wasn't listening, couldn't listen to the cold hard facts of finance in business. I just wanted to dream. So dream I did..
Until... Well until we had to get out in the world, and sell. We were cash poor, and without any new or potential customers, we had no idea how to prospect for leads, nor how to close the sale, we just had really "Fresh" roasted coffee. And that is when it all started to change...