The last time I sat down to write a blog was back in January of 2019. Much has changed since then.
Let us begin this thing with Covid 19. Put 2 middle fingers up right now! Saturday, March 7th was ironically the most successful event we have ever had as a company. I say “ironically” because looking back now there was an unexpected shift brewing silently around us that would change everything. The day before the event I had the opportunity to jump in front of a news camera again, this time with FOX Morning News, to promote the event. This would be our first event of 2020 so like all events you do as a small business you are pumped up and hopeful that your hard work will reap some rewards. You never know what you will come away with. That very aspect is why I halted my attendance at festivals. As a customer, you do not see the amount of work that goes into preparing for something like this and after I pay all the fees it usually is not worth it. So, after really contemplating this event we decided to go without any plan to attend another one anytime soon.
I remember arriving to Howard County Fairgrounds that brisk morning in March. After unloading my products, I locked eyes with a fellow local small business owner of whom I have attended many events with. He enjoyed seeing me on the news the day before and asked how I thought this event would go? He asked if I thought the “Coronavirus thing” would scare people off. I said that I did not think so because the event had supposedly sold thousands of tickets. Currently there were only 3 reported cases of the virus in Maryland and we were unaware of being weeks away from an impending quarantine. The event started and the entire building was immediately filled with people. We were non-stop for hours! We could not even go to the bathroom. One of Gwen’s cousins, of whom I never met, stopped by to say hello, and ended up helping us while we were being bombarded with eager patrons awaiting samples. As the event ended, we could not help but smile. This was such an amazing day for us. Bills were going to be paid! We even began thinking about attending 1 or 2 events per month if we could handle it. I never imagined this may be the last event I sell products at. If it truly is, we sure as hell went out with a bang and I could not have asked for a better send off.
The shift begins now.
Adjusting to quarantine was not easy as you all know. Our son was now doing distance learning at home and our schedule was completely thrown off. Our podcast disABILITY
was launched mid-March and I had to learn how to film, edit, and do everything on the fly immediately. Shout-out to our professional photographer/videographer Keith Garner (ch3s3_ on Ig)
for giving me a quick crash course in editing before we were ordered to stay home.
Our recent event had left our stock of products quite depleted. A lot about Covid 19 was unknown and I did not feel comfortable going out to make products or to even go out in public while being a caregiver to my wife. I had to halt rent payments at my kitchen facility. Online orders were coming a few a week before all our top-selling items began to trickle away. Tough decisions were on the horizon. Saucier Willy as it was once known was dying. I could not afford to continue operating in the manner we had been for so long. I finally looked at my life and all the facts staring at me in the face that I have tried to avoid making eye contact with. I am only one man and I can only do but so much. I am the artist, producer, and record label. There is nobody else. Now, let me throw another dynamic into this. My wife’s health is an anomaly. I am a caregiver who tries to operate like they are not one. I lightly say the word “caregiver” although it comes with immense physical, mental, and emotional work. I have mentally tried to plan how things will go and what I will be able to do but the role as “caregiver” is an unescapable force. There is no way out except to just be. My children are only getting older and with age brings more demand to their overall needs as people. They need me. They come first. Always have, always will.
I am trying to focus on what I can do. Providing cooking with cannabis videos on Patreon is something I can realistically do. It allows me to be home where I am needed. I will also still be doing in-person cooking classes when we are able to do so. I can no longer consistently make products or attend festivals. Childcare is nonexistent for us. We currently have an exceedingly small amount of people who can freely watch our kids for us and that does not include the situation with the virus. I cannot do festivals alone and Gwen cannot assist anymore. I will try to keep a stock of our popular items on our website for the individuals who subscribe to our Patreon
and for online sales. Right now, that is the best I can do. I am sold out of a good handful of our top sellers and hope to have them back soon but honestly do not know when that will even be. I know you miss the hot sauce and believe me… so do I. This situation is an evolving one.
It has been a tough year for my eldest son Calum. Distance learning last Spring was not something he enjoyed. He deeply missed the connection with his friends everyday and the routine of his daily life. We have now had to make the tough decision to remove him from his current schooling system and homeschool him for the coming year. We already do a lot with him at home that would qualify as homeschool but nonetheless this will be an adjustment for our family.
A lot of personal growth has occurred for me this year. I have been really low at times and I need to be kinder to myself. I translate it all to rain and sunshine. Plants cannot grow without both and neither can we. The really hard times make us who we are. I have been forced to sit with these yucky feelings and realities that I would normally brush off. It is like an intervention and the door to escape is locked.
Acknowledge, accept, and move forward.