Badass Is The New Black (Season 3) Episode #5: Cooking Up A New Creative Business During A Pandemic With Crystal GaleFeb 09, 2021
What could be more tragic than losing your job in the middle of a global pandemic and on your birthday no less? One of Krissy Chin’s students went through that experience but quickly shifted to build her own business and become a creative entrepreneur. Crystal Gale was a cook before she lost that job when COVID-19 hit the restaurant business hard in her native Australia. In this episode she shares how she was able to cook up her own business from home, the struggles that she had to go through as an early entrepreneur and how she overcame them. She also gives some specifics from Krissy’s Build a Blissful Business Course (Use promo code COCOS for $50 off!) that has made a major impact on not only her business but also her daily life. Let’s dive in!
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Cooking Up A New Creative Business During A Pandemic With Crystal Gale
One of my students is in the house, Crystal. She lost her job in the pandemic but decided it was time to start her own business. She's not going to let this pandemic get her down. She shares the struggles of early entrepreneurship, how she's overcoming those struggles, and how you can too. She also gives some specifics from my Build A Blissful Business Course that has made a major impact on not only her business, but her life on a daily. I'm excited about this one. Let's dive in.
Let's welcome Crystal Gale to the show. She's a creative entrepreneur. She's an Aussie girl, who lost her job as a cook due to the pandemic on her birthday, which is even more tragic. She decided to cook up a job from home instead, which I absolutely love. I'm excited to bring Crystal onto the show to talk about starting up a business and the positives, the negatives and everything in between. Also, to get some insights for those of you out there that aren't sure if you can do it or you're struggling in the beginning. Crystal, welcome.
I am excited that you're here. Crystal and I have never met in person. We met on Instagram and we've just connected. It's been a fun journey.
We have the same goofy quirks. That's for sure.
We know a little bit about your background that you were a cook, then the pandemic happened, and you lost your job on your birthday. Let's take the story from there.
That was a birthday to remember. I had every plan of having the day off but I was rostered on to work. I was bummed about it. The news was like, “Everything is in lockdown.” I was like, “I wanted a day off, but not like this.” I had a little breakdown and I was like, “What do I do now?” I woke up the next morning and I thought, “I had my tears and I had my moment. I spent ten hours on our government hotline to try and get some financial support.” After that ten hours, I was confirmed that I could have $0.34 a fortnight. They sent me an actual check for $0.34 for that fortnight and that was my payment. I was like, “I can't live off that.”
It’s like, “Is this a joke?”
I laughed because they sent me the check and the letter. I was like, “It would have cost more money to send me that piece of paper and to pay someone to print it off.” It was hilarious. I realized I can't afford to live off that. I had a motorbike so I thought, “I'm going to sell it and I'm going to do something.” I had no idea what at that point. I just knew it was going to be something.
You're like, “I need some fast cash. What do I have around? I’m going to sell my motorbike.” As tragic as it may be, but at the end of the day, you'll be able to buy another motorbike, right?
That's exactly right. I sold that and I wrote down, “What's going to be the easiest?” What turns out to be easiest has never been easier because a whole bunch of other people are doing that. Not that I feel like there are saturated markets and I don't believe in that. My first idea was candle making. It turns out that was a difficult one because I didn't know how to market and get a product that was known, out there, and you can buy them from cheap stores. I didn't know how to market my boutique-style and priced products. I thought, “That's not working. What else do I like?” I love gumnuts and gum trees. They're Australian native trees that surround me growing up and everywhere I live. As a kid, I used to collect gumnuts in jars and tell my mom that they were currency. I used to trade them for snacks and things and pretend that I was buying them. I thought, “I wonder if I could turn gumnuts legitimately years later into actual currency?” It turns out you can.
You're not in network marketing and you're not a coach, so it's a totally different type of business. You started in candles and they have crystals in them but you can buy candles everywhere. As anything that you do, there has to be something special as to why someone is coming to you. I do think that your candles are unique. I love the ones in the actual coconut. Those are cool. I've never seen those at the store. You also have evolved in your business even since you started doing something with these gumnuts. I've watched your business evolve in Instagram over time. I've been inspired by how you seem to be rolling with it. You may have down days that we don't see. Most people don't show on social media. I see you trying a lot of new things. Now we're getting a little bit more of the story. You started with candles and then you're like, “This is a little bit tougher than I thought. What else am I interested in? What else can I do?”
You have heard this in my story many times that I've started businesses and stopped them because they weren't aligned with me or they weren't as successful as quickly as I wanted or needed. Sometimes, you fail at the beginning the first go around. Sometimes it's failing miserably. Sometimes it's like, “I need the profit margin to be a little bit bigger,” or you need something else to go with it. A lot of stores that have physical products, there are products that they don't make much money on and there's a small profit margin. There are other products that have a large profit margin. Do you have Costco there?
There's one in Brisbane, which is a couple of hours away, but you're only allowed to go there if you've got 4 or 5 or more in your family or something. You need to register. It's like a subscription. I'm not too sure.
I don't remember the facts. Don't hate on me if I don't get this quite accurately. Costco’s roasted chickens are $4.99. Everyone else sells them for $8. I don't know what a roasted chicken goes for in Australia. They're $8 and they're half the size at a normal grocery store, and they're $4.99 at Costco. They make less than $0.50 on that roasted chicken, but they don't get rid of them because many people come in for a roasted chicken, and then buy other things. There’s some profit margin on it. Sometimes, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to get rid of a product that you have because you're not making as much money. You need to find those other products or that other service that you're providing that has a larger profit margin so you can eat and pay for the roof over your head.
In that aspect, my candles are the Costco chicken because people are still buying them almost every day, but it's driving that traffic to my website and my Instagram. People are recognizing my candles. I'm getting wholesale prices and stocking other people, but then those people that have heard about my candles, which I've got it down to an easy task to bulk out a bunch of stock in a day, and then that's just sitting there. That allows me to have a bunch of time for my other products that have a high-profit margin that I want to build and develop. For example, my gumnuts and my jewelry. My candles are my chicken. You have to try that.
I recognize some strengths in you that have led you to where you are and overcoming this job loss. Many people out there lost their job. It's not a secret. My heart goes out to everybody. How many people are saying, “I'm going to do something about this?” Not many people are doing that but you did. What's that strength that you have that has allowed you to do that?
There are two things. The first thing was I was unhappy with my job. I loved the people that I worked for, and my boss was and is amazing. If I did get stuck, she would always find me a work. If I called her up today, she would help me out but that isn't what I wanted. I was leaving for work at 8:30 in the morning and I was getting home at about 10:00 at night. I was getting not much money because I was getting paid minimum wage and doing split shifts. I hated it. While I loved the people, I was not happy internally and it was affecting my relationships, mental health and everything in general. That was a driving force for me to go, “When all of this settles down, which I knew it would, what are you going to do because you don't want to go back to that?” That was all I knew.
I've done a lot of different things but that's something that you fall back into because it's familiar, easy, you get your check at the end of the week, and have your rent paid. It was familiar but it was my driving force at the same time to go, “If you want to get the hell away from that, what could be the polar opposite of that?” I started making a list of what I wanted to achieve out of life, and it certainly wasn’t flipping burgers for other people. It was having a purposeful life, making a genuine impact, enjoying my life and choosing my time. Those things were the most important to me. I thought, “What can I do that will make that possible?” I've never been in a job where I can have my time off with my partner. That's not a thing. Weekends, goodbye.
I wanted to make that possible so that I could be like, “I'm going away on a holiday or I'm having this weekend off because these are the days that my partner has often.” Those two things were what drove me to focus and create my own business. Being a cook, you have to have a lot of internal drive, commitment and patience to make your job not a living nightmare sometimes. That also helped me get to where I am right now. I've gotten a lot of skills from my previous work experience in this business. They're the two main things.
Some of those things that you mentioned, drive and patience, that's something you've had if you think back. Even in your childhood, it’s something you've had within you. Some of those jobs, it pulled it out of you because you needed that, or maybe you were drawn to those positions because you had those skills. You had that badass aspect inside of you that came out and you're taking it to the next level because you're using those skills to build something that you are passionate about. That gives you purpose. You do have a cool piece to your business where you give back. Tell them what is that something and how you give back?
I’m hopefully planning on many contributions that I'm going to be making but this is my first time and I’m so proud of this. I partnered up with One Tree Planted, which is a global company that plants trees everywhere. For every single product that is sold whether it's a $5 product or a $500 product, one tree is planted. Ten products, ten trees. What's cool about it is that predominantly, a lot of my products are using dead parts of trees to create new products to then go and plant those exact trees. I'm using gum trees, native Australian trees and Australian bush plants to help with reforestation. I'm excited about that and I'm hoping to branch out to more charities and organizations. That's what I've got so far.
It is important to tie that into your business. We started donating to some charities and foundations. When someone becomes an affiliate with us, we donate $1. You can be creative in how you give back. If there's something that you believe in that is important to you and gives you purpose, you have the freedom and ability to do that. You can tie it into the sale of a product or a referral type of thing so it drives more business, but as you drive more business, you give back more, which is cool... I love that you're doing that and tying that into your business plan and program.
It's a little cycle. It's something that I can say on Instagram. I do a lot of promotion on Instagram like, “Did you know that if you buy this candle, pendant or this product, a tree is planted in its place?” Instead of saying about the product, the pretty little photo to tie your eye in, I give information about One Tree Planted, what exactly is happening there, and what my mission is, and then I'll give them the opportunity to go and donate more if they want. It is only furthering my purpose and what I want to achieve. My goal is I'd like to plant 1 million trees. I set this goal and I know it's a lot of trees, but why the hell not? I haven't set a time limit yet but I've got 500 and something planted so far.
It would be super cool on your website to have some type of special coding. Every time something was sold, then the tally goes up and maybe it's counting up to 1 million or something. When people buy, they can see that visual thing happening of them being a part of your goal and your mission to planting 1 million trees.
So far at the moment, all I've got is my whiteboard and I've got trees planted.
Time freedom and financial freedom are the two biggest things you get by having your own business.
That is better than perfect. You have got to start someplace. It started on the whiteboard. Take a picture of that. It’s part of your journey. Everyone has to start someplace. How cool to be like, “This started with me making tallies on a whiteboard and I set this goal?” I can picture you and vision you the day that you sell your millionth product, you've planted that millionth tree, and then we’ll have a party. Tell me the most important thing to you about having your own business.
There are a few things. Time was huge for me because I lacked that in every other job that I have had before. Having that freedom to go, travel and have time off with friends, family, partner, and to have the days free basically. To make my own schedule around what I wanted and make my own money for me to do whatever I wanted with it was a major factor for me because for so long, I would slow my guts out. I'm going to give myself props, I've got a good work ethic. I'll give 110% and I expect everyone else around me to do the same. I work great in a team but it frustrates me when people around me are slacking off. It's great that I can work myself, work as hard as I can, and bring in as much money as I can. That's quite important because the harder I work, the more money I get, the more freedom I get because I can offset a lot of tasks. Time was the most important thing to me and freedom.
That resonates with a lot of people. The two biggest things are time freedom and financial freedom. As you build one, hopefully the other one is paired and tied together. The more financial freedom you have, the more time freedom. It’s interesting what you were talking about with working with other people that aren't pulling their weight. How many of you have worked in a job where you're like, “Sally over there is not doing a dang thing and I'm over here working my butt off but we're getting paid the same amount?” If you're running your company, it's based on how much effort you're willing to put in.
I know you're not going to want to run your business by yourself forever, but you have control over the type of team that you build. Maybe you're in more of that team building stage, look for people that have a good work ethic. I love looking back and thinking about the people you've worked with previously like what you did or didn't like, or personalities that you meshed with. Think about the people you've worked with the four bosses you've had and other cohorts. What kind of personality fits well with yours and complemented yours and what was the polar opposite? You can use that when you're hiring people to support your team business to make sure you have a solid team because it's important.
I'm looking forward to the day that I can hire a team and be able to have that control because when you're working for someone else, you don't have that control. You don't have any say in who's rocking up and how hard they'll work, but if you’re a boss lady, you've got control of that.
You just have to learn how to be good at that. That's all another podcast episode. You talked about marketing. You've struggled a little bit with the knowledge of marketing, which I'm sure you've learned a ton already. What are a couple of other things that have been a struggle with you in this journey of getting your business off the ground?
A lot of things. One bad thing that I'm still trying to train myself out of is trying to tackle too many things at once. I have an ever-growing list, which I try to break down so that I can have little chunks to tackle each day but I take on too many things at once. There are too many ideas I try and do all at once, and then it implodes. Once I saw and analyzed that I can't do everything at once because I'm not Wonder Woman, I'm training myself to focus on one task completed, then move on. For me, that was a big one. It was a doozy because working as a cook, you need to be doing eighteen different things at once and know what's going on. It's different because it's food.
I tried to bring that same mentality into this and you can't. You have to recognize that it might be a skillset that I have, but it's a completely different skillset when I'm trying to do email campaigns, making products, emailing people back, and posting things. You can't do it all at once. That was something that I did struggle with and it made me quite overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and feeling like I couldn't do it. How am I going to tackle all these things? When I broke them down to like, “Monday is for emailing people and then Tuesday is for product making,” that helped me. That was struggle number one and that was a big one for me.
Boundaries as well was a tricky one because I work from home and a lot of my friends think, “You've always got the day off. You've always got time.” I don't know if anyone else loves to pop in but I hate it, just call first. Friends would pop in or rock up and like, “Let's go have some beers down the lake or let's go hang out.” I'm like, “I'm working. Just because I'm braless and on my PJs, it doesn't mean that I'm not hard at work.” I've always been a yes-person and a people pleaser. That was hard for me as well saying, “No, you can't. You have to go out the door and go home please because I'm busy even though I don't look like it. I might even have a beer in my hand at the time, but I'm still working hard.”
Boundaries are hard. I've certainly found setting work hours has helped me with that. Otherwise, it’s two-fold. I've been working 24/7 and then you're not enjoying the things that you do want to enjoy in life. You're not getting work done because everyone thinks that you have all this free time. Setting those work hours has helped me with boundaries. Your first struggle is, “I realized that I'm not a good cook because I can't do all the things.” When you say that, you're like, “I can do that.” That's exactly why I'm not a good cook because I can't keep an eye on the beans and the meat and make the salad. I have to cook one thing and then the other because otherwise, I'll burn it or it will be dry, and then the first dish is cold. so I leave that up to someone else. Even if you may be good at it, which you recognize like, “I have that skill. I can do it, but it's not in my best interest for my business and my sanity.” A lot of people, even I, have to catch from trying to do too many things at once and you're a lot less productive.
Without even me asking like, “What's the system you set up?” You said, “In my weekly schedule, Monday is going to be focused on email campaigns and Tuesday is going to be focused on product development.” Readers out there, take a look at your schedule, what's on your plate, and see if you can block time off to focus on that one thing. We've got a team with one of the brands, so there's a lot of people coming at me with questions, and I have to turn the phone off or close the messages on my computer because I'll get pulled and sidetracked.
If you don't have a team, I'm sure it's one thing after another text or emails coming in from other people. I’m designating a specific time. This is when I respond to emails, here's my little nugget. Don't respond to emails at the beginning of when you get started in work for the day. If you open up your emails and then everyone is requesting things from you, they have commandeered your schedule. If you get your stuff done and then you're like, “I'm going to do emails from 4:00 to 5:00 PM,” then you've got that time to do it. You can know what's going to be on the plate and you could schedule that to do the next day and find the time that works because otherwise, you could be back and forth in emails all day long. Everyone else has made your to-do list and not you.
There have been days that has happened. Now that you think about it, that's how my day started. I started it because I sent a company an email going, “I'm waiting for these products.” I then saw seven other different emails and I’m like, “I'm here.” Before I knew it, it was 11:00 AM and I hadn't got much done and I had a lot to do, so that is a great tip.
I’m glad that you got a golden nugget from it and everyone out there hopefully did too. I want to talk a little bit about you being a student of Build A Blissful Business Course, which is my branding. I want to dive into that a little bit and know how you've used that course to help you with your business. Is there anything from it that sticks out to you that was helpful?
Yes. There are some techniques that I still use daily like a morning mindset routine. I didn't have a morning mindset routine. If you haven't done the course, Krissy goes through a lot of different little exercises where you have to put your pens and paper down and do them. I've done a heap of courses and I've spent thousands of dollars on courses that weren't even half as beneficial as this one. It started off with that morning mindset, routine exercise, and I still do that. I was surprised with the results when I went back and did it a second time on how it changed, acknowledging my feelings, presence, body and my mind. That is beneficial to a business.
Mindset is everything but if you’re feeling overwhelmed, if you can control that and bring it back to calm, then you can focus on not just your business but everything in general. I still do that every single morning, which is awesome. I didn't do that before. It's made me a whole lot more calm, which is good. Branding was a big one for me. I still struggle with my colors, aesthetics and website. Everything was built by myself. I'm so noob, open to learning and still much a beginner at everything, but that helps me work out what colors I like. I've been trying to flow with that. I even scrolled back on my Instagram to my original post and I’m like, “What was I thinking?” I'm leaving them there because I can't wait to see what I am in six months’ time because I'm still learning and still developing.
Those branding exercises with color palettes, fonts and things like that made me go, “I shouldn't be using ten different fonts or colors. Just hone in a couple.” That makes it more me, which helped me. I love your suggestions for content creation because that was something that I still struggle with. Breaking down with your pillars, writing ten things about what you could say about that, and then before you knew it, you had 200 posts, campaigns or topics. It made so much sense to me but it never occurred to me to think of that on my own at all.
It can be overwhelming thinking about how much is out there. Anything that you can take down to a basic level, decreases the overwhelm, and creates a lot more clarity. Clarity is what we're looking for in all aspects of our business to be better. More clarity in all things, what our brand represents, messaging, visuals, product offerings and everything. The more clear you get, the easier it is to build and scale your business. Simplicity brings clarity.
For example, if your office is messy and chaotic, you're going to have a chaotic and stressful day. The same with your message, branding, color scheme, fonts and everything. If that's all scattered all over the place, that's going to penetrate into what your crazy message is going to be. It's not going to be clear to your customers or to someone that is scrolling past and might see a photo. Nothing is spoken about it and it doesn't represent anything. It's a mess which my website, Instagram and absolutely everything was before, trust me. That helped me out.
I'm glad, that makes me happy. That's exactly why I created this. Years of me figuring it out, building multiple brands, failing, getting back up, trying it again and being like, “I know there are other people struggling. Let's condense it. Let's take out the fluff and let me give you things that were helpful for me.” It's not surprising that we seem so alike and you're like, “This was genius.” I'm glad that it's been beneficial for you. Thank you for sharing your journey in starting your business and everything. I appreciate you being here and the time and opening up to us.
We didn't talk about your products but that's not what we were here. We were here to talk about starting a business. I love your stuff, so I do want everyone to go find you and follow you. What you're doing is cool. People can certainly learn about building their business from watching you and seeing you evolve over time. You've got a coupon code for our readers. Do you want to tell them what your website is, your Instagram handle and the promo code for the 10% off?
My website is BambooCocos.com and my Instagram handle is exactly that as well, @BambooCocos. Hop on the website and put whatever you want in your cart, and then when you're about to hit Proceed to Checkout, pop in the coupon code, BADASS, and you'll get 10% off.
Before we go, are you up for playing a little game?
It’s a ‘would you rather.’ These are random questions to have fun and get to know you. Are you up for it?
I'm down like a clown.
Mindset is everything. If you can control that, you can focus on not only your business, but everything in general.
Nobody has said no yet, so if you did, I would be a little disappointed. I'm not going to lie. Not that many questions, but we're going to do a quick ‘would you rather.’ Would you rather be covered in fur or covered in scales?
Would you rather always be 10 minutes late or always 20 minutes early?
I'm going to go with what I am always, and I'm always ten minutes late unless it's work that I'm early. If it's for anything else, then I’ll be late.
Would you rather know the history of every object you touched or be able to talk to animals?
Animals. Hands down.
I thought that might be.
I talked to them anyway. I’m not sure if they understand me.
Would you rather have all traffic lights you approach be green or never have to stand in line again?
When you’re at it, you want to go. Would you rather go back to age five with everything you know now or know now everything your future self will learn?
Know now what my future self will learn.
You're not going to redo your childhood. You're like, “I want to know what my future self will learn and I'm going to take it from here.”
We're sticking with it. Would you rather be forced to dance every time you heard music or be forced to sing anytime you heard a singing song?
I like to dance but when it's not forced. I love dancing in the supermarket to embarrass my partner, but if I was forced, then I would prefer to sing.
Here's a good one. I came up with this one on my own. Some of these I found online. Would you rather be abducted by aliens or stranded on an island all alone?
Would you rather only be able to use a fork, no spoon or only be able to use a spoon, no fork?
Spoon because you can use a spoon for everything. I immediately thought of ice cream like, “That's going to be difficult.”
If you’re going to try and eat soup, you can't do it with a fork. Crystal, thank you for being here. It was fun having you. Go find her on Instagram and hop over to the website. Put something in your cart that you love and a tree will get planted. Thank you, everyone. Until next time, remember to channel your inner badass and take imperfect action every single day.
- Build A Blissful Business Course Use PROMO CODE: COCOS at check out for $50 off!
- One Tree Planted
- @BambooCocos – Instagram
- Facebook – Bamboo Cocos
About Crystal Gale
Crystal is an Aussie girl whom lost her job as a cook due to the pandemic...on her birthday..so she decided to cook up a job from home instead.