What is the point of Zimt?
Zimt Donates 1% of All Sales to Effective Charities
That’s the point of Zimt. Not just 1%, though. Hopefully more. And more. I myself am more than happy to live a less than extravagant life if I can redirect what would be shareholder (me) earnings to worthy causes. So long as I can cover the basics and keep life not stressful (at least outside of the business), good. I’m happy to work with the equipment we have, increase efficiencies, and squirrel away as much dough as we can- especially once we can cover costs.
I remember when I was about a year in to starting Zimt. I was writing out sort of a life trajectory- what I wanted to do with my earnings as Zimt’s CEO. For myself.
For starters, naive doesn’t cut it.
Sorry- making not only a living wage but a very comfortable wage? Doing this?
Alright. So my numbers were way, way, way, embarrassingly, frighteningly, bafflingly off. I remember racking my brain, thinking of what I would do with all that money. Money for just myself. Just… me. After everyone else was taken care of. What over the top luxuries would I allow myself? Would I buy properties in the cities I love? Hire a private chef? Ok, I think that was about as far as my brain went.
Fast forward to now. And, big sigh. Sigh because… its kind of embarrassing to think I even considered these things (it was just so different from how I always lived, thought, believed. Alright, I still kinda want a private chef. Or just sufficient time on Sundays for meal prep. I would actually be fine with either. And a big coffee fund.).
After scraping enough macaroon bits off of the kitchen floors of the myriad of facilities we have migrated to over the years, year, after year, after year- things change a little. Here is how I see them progressing:
I think this may be the first reaction I had- though I shouldn’t have. Why would I be shocked at the lack of my ‘success’ when I never actually believed in myself? Was it just going to materialize out of select individual’s initial enthusiasm for a kid with a chocolate dream? Or was I expecting the ‘tear you down until you are tough enough to build yourself up’ army mentality to kick in?
Whatever the case, I was a bit taken aback when, after the first year in business (ok, longer), I was making absolutely nothing. … I can’t hire a private chef for nothing.
This was maybe year two, year three. Zimt was less of a novelty- it was just what I was in. Just… truckin’ along. Completely confused about life. But crystal clear that I did not own an apartment in Prague. How come so many of those tech guys seem to do so well? I guarantee you they have never had to literally run around a freezing kitchen for 18 hours straight. I’m not bitter enough, however, to wish that on them or almost anybody, really.
How dare my life have cumulated to… well, just more floor scraping.
I’m not, like, a hip kid (I’m also not an 80 year old man, commenting on youth in his present year of 1987, despite the phrasing I just used). I’m not- operations are complicated and are critical. Putting out more Insta stories (or any) is unlikely to fill any purchase orders for distributors. They need product- entertainment must wait.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of marketing (oh right- that thing). But my individual marketing efforts don’t actually make the chocolate.
I could make a few chocolate bars out of melted chocolate, have them look OK for a shoot, but still have trouble coordinating and facilitating the production of thousands of them. The storage. I might be typing from experience here.
There’s still the heavy lifting.
Life is- still- scraping floors, lugging around sacks of cacao nibs, doing dishes, doing dishes, doing dishes, eating ugly macaroon scraps for dinner, waking up at night, worrying about the room temperature in the chocolate factory, worrying about company growth, being tired of not being ‘there’ yet for those who really want me to have it together already, pining for a cat, pining for a dog, and for those last two, asking myself are you nuts?! whenever the thought pops in. Being sad that that question is oh so rhetorical.
But- the other night (wait. It was last night. Holiday Monday night. So tricky, when every one day feels like several)- something kicked in. Something necessary. Because- I was feeling alone. I was coming up on hour 12 or 13 of my self imposed slave labour shift. And I was so, so tired. Tired of feeling alone- usually coworkers are around more during the day, and I usually don’t have many days like this, unless something goes wrong in production. And we have a large, labour intensive (Double Chocolate Macaroon heavy) PO to fill. And… it’s a holiday Monday. And it’s up to me.
So I was in another kitchen, after many years of many kitchens, with about thirty things left to do. All requiring a substantial amount of energy, considering the previous three quarters of the day. Hadn’t even started on the dishes. I have a thing about floor cleanliness. I know I should get over it but I’m not going to. Machine needed to be cleaned up and put away for the night. Inventory for the day needed to happen. Writing out the To Do list for the next day needed to happen (favourite- all it takes is brain power!). Cleaning the tacked on chocolate off of the stainless steel tables needed to happen. Putting away clean dishes needed to happen. Carrying a machine component back to my neighbour who lent it to me, when ours suddenly snapped earlier that day, needed to happen. Sanitizing needed to happen.
I wasn’t too tired yet- I was just content (amazed) things were working. At least there was that.
But I was still bummed. Mostly just about feeling like… I’m it. I don’t really want to be it. My friend/coworker who I know would have been there with me is out of the country for ages. And I think when she was around, it was a really valuable distraction for feeling less… completely… solitary. There are people around, but when you’re doing this for so long and yeah it is somewhat reasonable for things to take this long, especially in this field, and you’re feeling kind of failure-y and like you’ve hit that wall, you just need a friend.
And I had the macaroons. And my own, frustratingly omnipresent grit.
And I knew it. I recognized it. And I didn’t want to feel that way.
So how could I feel less alone? How could I feel actually… valued. In that moment. Because that’s what I really wanted. How could I be of value? Purposeful? Worth it?
I was of value through enrobing Double Chocolate Macaroons. We needed them for a purchase order that is going out… tomorrow. That purchase order will bring in money. That money will go to pay Zimt staff, insurance, rent, cacao nibs, a lot # stamper, biodegradable bags, hydrogen peroxide sanitizer… And some of that money will go to those, who I, for better or for worse, feel perhaps my most peaceful with. Although I have never met them, and may never meet them. At least not all of them, I hope, in a way.
Those Double Chocolate Macaroons- bain of my existence- will make money for animals. Because they need bedding, food, medical treatments, advertising to find a loving home (maybe, especially, depending upon genus, perhaps even species, and certainly life experience), for us to be educated, reflective, and kind. I can’t pay for kindness, but I can pay for education to help us make some connection, to make some change, to make someone’s life that needn’t even happen, infinitely more peaceful.
I felt a lot better. It was me, and them. Them, and me. And that’s really all I needed.
LONG POST- where was this going anyway?
So the point of all this involves this thing I was reminded of while listening to a podcast recently- this thing is called Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR. It is basically companies donating time or money to causes of their choosing.
Based on the last bit of the above, there are obviously a few areas I am particularly passionate about contributing to.
And that sometimes involves scraping floors. And grappling with equipment that short circuits and maybe electrocuted me a bit last week and also caught on fire (but just a little!).
And that’s ok.
Because the reason I started Zimt hasn’t changed- no matter how difficult the process. And to be honest, there are many days I really just want to throw in the towel, but like I already wrote, I’ve been ‘in it’ since year 2 or 3. Changes may not be immediately apparent in my own life, but they are for Zimt’s life. And that’s the first step.
Next post will be a bit of information about how I calculate what we commit to charities. Because it’s not always such an apples to apples kind of thing.
I hope you like math! The next post includes math. Then the next post will include charities. And I may do a recipe post or something like that in between so we don’t lose 80% of our Instagram followers through excessive math, talk about scraping floors, and emotionally overwhelming causes our world needs help with.
Emma of Zimt