steve duross - craftsman. artisan. entrepreneur. musings on running and growing a small business

casting sugar

someone once told me that we only get so many chances in life. how screwed would i be if that were true? i believe we get as many chances as we take, that men aren't shaped by their victories but by their defeats. to pick the ripest, juiciest fruits one sometimes has to go out on a limb. and sometimes we fall. how we land makes all the difference.

currently we are in the process of launching our wholesale site. it is a measured affair. a quiet step forward. we look outside of our walls and our comfort zone for opportunities. many of the retailers we hope to reach are well beyond the northeast corridor. it is important that this stage of development be done well. the choices we make not only effect the people who will sell our goods, but reverberate throughout our company for years to come. stepping lightly is no half measure. it is a choice borne of experience. the inner voice that tells us not to blunder. another chance for reinvention. blithe is not in my nature. if the insanity of the last year has taught me anything it's that almost everything is either music or noise. you can either let it drive you crazy or you can merrily sing along. so why not cast sugar?

recently sarah, cory and i decided to learn to make candy, confections ad chocolates. we take this endeavor seriously yet with no pressure toward success. simply for the art of doing the thing. each sweet little accomplishment a victory. each failure a chance to learn. yet the lesson is a blessing in that even the most ugly well tempered chocolate covered jelly or caramel is delicious to the palate. we laugh and dream of what we might achieve in years to come if we do well. if. we. do. well. it doesn't matter. there are no expectations. only chocolate and sugar and the love of the people sharing the task.

i have come to the realization that it is important for me to allow room in my life for revision and readjustment. if i don't allow myself to change, it becomes difficult to grow. we all get stuck in the same ruts and routines. we just do what comes most easily to us and what makes us feel as if we are on old familiar ground. but often, life's most rewarding and enriching experiences come from experimentation and adventure. often, we do not deliberately elect to put ourselves in challenging positions; we just somehow end up in them. life is now bringing me the chance to find a wonder in the things i don't know very well.

as i am making these discoveries, i try to remember that sensible solutions are rarely very exciting. there is something almost disappointing about a plan that is likely to work out well. where's the air of adventure if there's no element of risk? i am in need of a degree of excitement right now, indeed, i might even say that it is sensible for me to pursue this. the time has come around again for me to be courageous. something has to balance while i see them through. and unlike so many people i have known, getting drunk or being a miserable shit is not an option which i choose to take. so casting sugar is a way of sorting myself out. playing with these elements is an alchemistic adventure. it puts me squarely in touch with the part of me that began making soap many years ago. before i thought anyone would buy my wares. before it all became what it has become.

i have heard it said that the time to decide whether you really want to jump out of an airplane is before you find yourself standing, with a parachute strapped to your back, peering out of the open door. we do of course have an option to change our mind, even at the last stage. but then you have to ask yourself why you went up in the first place. firmly sticking with the decision i made back when i was down on the ground is most likely my best option. the reality may look more than a little daunting but the option of doing nothing is less than ideal too. even if some people think that what i am doing is a little crazy, there may yet turn out to be a very good reason for doing it. so is a confectionary in my future? i don't know. yet. but i do know that by next easter i want to have perfected the chocolate egg filled with delightfully sweet things inside. i know that sarah will stuff me with caramels and salted licorice treats until i bust and that cory will melt any bad day with his chocolate ginger truffles. that the free fall i experienced last year is quickly turning into air surfing at the speed of sound. that all of this.. the cost of building, the pain of growing, the clashes of wills and personalities, all of it has been worth the energy expended. it moves me closer to my happy place. it opens up possibilities. it's doing what i dreamed it would do. a little sugar just makes it sweeter.