How to go from A to Z

I would love to think that I only post when I feel I have something to say, but the reality is that life and work get in the way of having enough brain space to think about what I want to say. It is a luxury for me that I have had a week day off work, how is it, that the fact it is a weekday and not a weekend day makes all the difference?

I have recently completed ” Leading beyond Sustainability”, through MindLab ( a N.Z based Tertiary learning provider). I am a big believer in constant learning, there is so much information out there, so many interesting people to know more about, so many approaches to thinking and new skills to learn. As a Food Design Coach I think it is important to keep up with latest thinking and ideas, its more than just a “nice to do” but integral to the value you bring to your clients. The best part of learning is not always what you learn but the way your brain makes new connections, a kind of stealth learning, which alters the way you have previously thought about something, sets you off on a new path or makes you think more deeply about one aspect of what you do.

I chose this course as I felt it aligned with the direction I want my work to go in, and yes I learnt a lot about all types of sustainability. I learnt about the financial and human costs of countries ignoring or paying lip service to sustainability issues, and I learnt more about possible solutions plus people actively working in the solutions area, these are all important things to know more about. All of this thinking fed back into the circular mapping project I have been developing for use with start up food businesses, this is the “leading beyond” part of the course. As I said earlier, sometimes it is the stealth learning that can alter your focus. We were encouraged to look deeper into the concepts behind sustainable issues and possible solutions. In all the research and reading I was doing I came across one quote which became personally impactful.

“…maintaining cultural beliefs, cultural practices, heritage conservation, culture as is own entity and attempting to answer the question of whether or not any given cultures will exist in the context of the future.”

definitions.net

I came across the above quote on Cultural Sustainability from Definitions.net, the end of that sentence is, frankly scary… “whether or not any given cultures will exist in the context of the future“. Wowsers, that’s a biggie.

Food is the thing that powers humans, it is the way we interact with our environment, it is the medium we use to connect to others. Food holds memories of place and time, it can link us to our ancestors or create new futures . Food can be ritualized, it can reflect shared values and can be a political tool. Food is also the soil crops are grown into, the land and water that animals grow from, the seasonal planting and harvesting. Food in its entirety is Culture.

For me, as a person whose lineage comes from generations of cultural and religious refugees, whos culture has been wiped from history and replaced with a untruths, this acknowledgement of foods importance in retaining and building culture is important to me. A deep ancestral connection to land is one of the most held values among indigenous peoples of the world. In Aotearoa/New Zealand we have the word, turangawaewae, it is one of the key principals of Te Ao Maori, it is about your connection to place. All other guiding principals and values flow from this point. The phrase of culture no longer existing became a catalyst for me to recognize a kernel of thought that had been there from my early food design days but I hadn’t known how to express it.

When I work with a start up business I want to know about their product idea, how they came up with the it, what is the history of their product or ingredients and where they sit on the continuum of that product, the focus has been more on what innovation they are bringing to the product. I feel now I want to understand the manakitanga or respect through acknowledgement they bring to their product. Food is an evolving language, you take an idea from here and substitute a ingredient and make a personal tweek but all food contains a part of its origin story.

There is an episode of Ugly Delicious were chef David Chang delves into this cultural issue through the medium of Fried Chicken . Just watch Season 1 episode 6 Fried Chicken https://www.netflix.com/nz/title/80170368 as Chang explains the complexity of food histories in a far better way that I could. Please watch it.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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The learning never stops..

“Art does not reproduce what is visible; it makes things visible.”

Paul Klee Artist

For a long time I inhabited the Art World, which was considered far removed from the the Design World . Throughout my years at Art School, it was considered a sacrilege to mix the two…the horror!!. To be an Artist was to have an emotional response. Artists were expected to be controversial, or vague and other-worldly. Rules and restrictions were an anathema, as they deaden creativity (eye rolling here). Being an artist was seen as a personal and solitary expression which only a few can understand.

“Designers create usable components, systems and products.”

Then I moved on to Design School. Design is practical and adaptable. Design thinking gave me frameworks to guide the processes of creating with people and for people. Design has at its core, restrictions and limits which must be resolved with new solutions.

“Creativity is the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas.”

Dictionary

It was at this intersection of Art thinking, Design thinking and my own creativity where I found a purpose (and a use for all my seemingly unrelated skills). I added in Food as the vehicle for expressing this purpose and backed up by a lifetime of working in and with small business, I turned this mass of potential directions into my own small business as a Food Designer, and happily for more than 8 years I have worked on some amazing projects and with some incredible businesses. Then just when you are thinking life is crazy enough… add in a pandemic and multiple lockdowns ….what is a girl to do? Learn some more stuff of course!

I used the quieter pandemic time to embark on self directed professional development, study and research into various types and styles of Coaching, from uptight Business Coaching to loose Creativity coaching and few other modalities in between.

Now here I am 18 months later, A Startup Food Coach, maybe a Food Concept Facilitator or a Creative Business Designer , even a Life Coach for Food … I am not sure exactly what to call myself as I have not come across anyone applying coaching in quite this way….. designing my own system of collaborative directed thinking to help fledgling food business understand their unique business needs, goals, problems, planning and product(s) , giving them the steps they can take to get where they want to be.

Photo credit Anton via Unsplash

Over the past 6 or more months I have sat down with exasperated women who want to generate their own income from a food or beverage idea. In the city I live in, there is no Food Hub or even a shared kitchen facility, there are plenty of startup programs but none focused on food products and certainly nothing for women who don’t fit the profile of the young entrepreneur, and doubly nothing for those with limited budgets. BUT there is an overload of *suspect* business information online, mainly from companies disguised as solo entrepreneurs, who want to sell you the” SECRET” (which is usually a sales funnel), or great advice(not) from people who tell you need an online presence, social media across all the platforms, retail outlet, influencers, better packaging, you know… you have been there and heard this!

This is all a distraction, I have heard it described as Tactical Maneuver Hell, this dissipates your energy and your money….. What you need a road map so that your emotions don’t derail your efforts.

In my Coaching role we co-create a product road map, mapping out business strategy and thinking, suited to not only your monetary and time constraints but your ethical vision as well. Not everyone wants global category domination, sometimes you start your business to pay for your kids school activities. This first step is the foundation for growth. I believe it is the most important and yes it can be scary, but the reward is all about making your idea a reality and setting you up to take those next steps of … social media platforms, accountants, marketing.

Image via Brittania.com

So if you want to take that first leap, message me about setting up a free discovery meeting time, and lets make your food idea happen.

J x