Wednesday, January 6, 2010
JANUARY HEROINE ENTREPRENUER - MIRANDA MARTINEZ
According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
Heroine -1 a: a mythological or legendary woman having the qualities of a hero b: a woman admired and emulated for her achievements and qualities
According to YourDictionary.com:
a girl or woman of outstanding courage, nobility, etc., or of heroic achievements
Meet this month's Heroine Entreprenuer, Miranda Martinez
Miranda has her own online store, is a raw vegan chef, superfood retailer, actress, producer, speaker, and author. Whew! You do it, girl! =)
1) What sparked the development of your business? How did you begin?
I am a raw vegan chef which is how it started. Well…okay. Have you read my story about me losing weight and everything? So fast forward two years cause it’s been two years since I lost the weight. At my heaviest, I was 205 lbs. My total lost has been 80+ lbs. I was up and down for awhile. Since I became raw vegan, I’ve lost over 60 lbs. So fast forward two years, our first raw vegan restaurant in town (Dallas) called Bliss Raw Café opened. And at the same time, I already had an e-book that I had published online myself. I had recipes in there. And I published my tips and things that helped me when I was losing the weight.
So I applied for a server position. And I eventually ended up making desserts that people loved. I ended up being the dessert chef for Bliss Raw Café. So after that, the owner was revamping the menu. So she asked me to contribute to the menu as well. So a lot of the new menu items are my creation.
It was more like the owner said, “You know. I would love to have an Italian tasting pizza or a Greek tasting pizza.” So then, I would research what the flavor and the spices were for that particular cooked version of the pizza. I eliminated everything that was cooked along with the animal product. And we came up with a version of a pizza for that particular flavor that she wanted on the menu. So the new menu has a Greek pizza, Margherita pizza, a California pizza… You can actually look at and download the menu from the website Blissrawcafe.com. A lot of the new menu items are my creation.
Now I’m making desserts. Uh, custom made desserts for whoever orders them from me. There’s a line of chocolates that my friend Amy had me take over. So I’m also selling her chocolates and those are raw vegan as well. They’re very delicious treats that you can’t tell there’s no dairy or sugar in. They taste like regular chocolate but are better for you. And all the ingredients we use are the same ingredients we sell. We don’t cut corners at all.
That’s kind of how I started being a chef. Now, I teach people how to become raw vegan. There are a lot of services that I provide. Some call me to teach them how to make desserts. Some may want or need a menu designed for them for me to prepare. Maybe once a month, I prepare a different dish for the same client. Also, I tweak the recipes for those who have allergies that require me to. I also provide lifestyle coaching. Some of my clients may ask how to incorporate more raw foods for their children. I gather recipes and revise them. Whatever my clients require, I tweak my consultation to them according to what they need.
2) How long have you had your online store?
I’ve had a smaller version of my store for about a year. And now I have a partner. With her partnership, we are servicing more people.
3) How did you start your online store? Cause I’m clueless about any of this? Did you already have the products? Did you already have a physical store?
No, I didn’t have a (physical) store. I buy the products. I started with David Favor’s product, the Chocolate Bliss. What I do is order the product wholesale. And then I have it in the store. So I’ve been promoting it locally and the people usually meet me and I give them the product in person. I had already been doing that for about a year and a half. So people know me. They go online and look at the product. Also, I do have a Paypal account so that I can serve those with a credit card. They can do Paypal and then come and meet me. Or I can ship it to them.
So I started with David Favor’s products with the smaller version of the store. So I was able to get a few products through wholesale to have handy. If for some reason I ran out of them, I knew people around town that also sold them, so I was able to get products from them as well. With David Favor, one of the things he encouraged us to do is to work together instead of being in competition. Because all of us don’t know the same people. So he’s very good about encouraging us to work together. We usually help each other to sell and promote on another.
So that’s kind of how it started. I have a Paypal account. With Paypal, you can have shopping carts and things like that. I already knew how to make my own website. The site that I had before I designed from scratch. So it took me a lot longer to do. Like a week. With my new website, I use this service called Weebly. They have a free website that’s pretty much click and drag. It’s pretty easy. They also have shopping carts. It’s a very great service, especially for us beginners.
4) What sparked the development of your business? How did this all come about?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. I have always wanted to have my own business. And right now, I’m an actress. And actors usually have to figure out different ways to generate money when the times are slow. So then, I have to figure out a different way to go about doing a business. I’ve always loved the idea of having my own. So when I became a raw vegan, I loved the possibility of having my own raw vegan service or business, whatever it was. For a long time, I didn’t know how it was gonna be developed. I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. Last year, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do. What I was gonna offer. Am I going to offer products? Am I going to offer services? And then everything kind of fell into place because everybody was asking me questions like, “What kind of chocolate do you use and why do you use it?”. Or “what kind of agave do you love and why do you love it?” So I figured if I’m recommending products, why not have a store. And then tell them they can just get it at my store because then they were asking where to get it. I had to explain how to get it. So I was like, “Just go to my store. You’ll find out all the information about it and you can get it from me.” Or you can research online to get it from somewhere else. But for some things like David Favor’s products, they’re only sold by some folk like me. It’s not like you can go to a store and get it.
5) How much support did you receive when you first started out as a business?I have to tell you that my community is amazing! Because I was a raw vegan enthusiast before I became an official chef. I have been pretty involved in the community. My community was always very supportive with everything I did. Initially, I had a lot of support and they would promote me. And again, there’s no competition. So we were able to kind of piggy-back on each other’s businesses. Also, at the same time, I was promoting myself online. I was very fortunate that people were also supportive online. Inquiring a lot about my business and the things I was offering.
6) Did you always envision getting to this point?
You know, I have always wanted to be a business owner but I never knew it would revolve around food. Years ago, when I became raw, I never thought that I would have a self-help type service. Because when I was overweight before I became a raw vegan, I never really liked being in the kitchen. I never liked making things. Not at all. I always thought that it was so much work. Now that I’m raw vegan, I love being in the kitchen. I love making dishes. Especially desserts.
I used to be addicted to them (sweets) and now I hardly eat them. People love them and I used to be addicted to them. And now I’m making them for other people. It’s just weird. I don’t even crave them anymore. It’s like now after I’ve become raw vegan; it isn’t a craving of mine. It used to be huge for me. So now I love making them for other people who love them. So “No”, I didn’t envision having something like this. This is very new to me.
7) Is there anything that you wish you had done or handled differently in the process of starting your business?
Yes! When I started in raw foods, I started doing a lot of research very quickly. And I was encouraged to help other people do it. I took a long time doing that because I didn’t have the confidence in myself that I could help someone. I felt that I didn’t know enough. So the thing that I would do differently, knowing things as they are, is that I’m already ahead of most people. With the information that I have, I have a passion for raw foods. So I would probably start a lot sooner having my store. I would start sharing information a lot sooner. A lot of times, we as entrepreneurs feel that we do not want to launch it until we’re ready. It is a really good way of looking at things. And you do need to make sure that you don’t say that you’re ready when you’re not. However, you should also think about how a lot of people out there are a lot less knowledgeable than you are. So whatever information you have, you can already start providing a service. Do it in a scaled down version. Like me. I started with a very little store. A very small store. And I offered ten products. I put it out there. I still had a store. It was just very small.
At the beginning, I put out there that I was a coach but I didn’t put out there what services I had because I really didn’t know what I was going to offer. So what started happening is that people started hiring me. And then I was like, “I don’t know what I could offer.” But now that I have experience and I’ve actually coached people, I’ve been able to help them. I know this is what I can offer. Just go do it and learn from your experience. Maybe do a scaled down approach first. For example, charge an amount that you think is right. At the beginning, it’s gonna be kind of a learning experience. Do it and then tweak your fees and also your store. Sell a couple of products. And then say, “Hey. My new store is coming soon but as of now I have a couple of products. “The more you sell your products, the more capital you’re gonna have. Invest it back into your account. Into your business. And then that way your business will grow. For example, I had already written an e-book last year. I already had the e-book but I didn’t feel confident that I could offer help. I never sold it. I even had the pictures. The ones that you’ve seen on my website, Viva Raw . The ones that were studio pictures of my food. I had already taken them last year (2008) in June. I just didn’t feel confident that I knew enough. I was like, “How can I call myself a coach when I feel like I just became raw?” I felt like I didn’t know what I was talking about but still, the research that I had done which included losing the weight the way that I did and how I was able to keep it off. But I knew more than what most people out there knew about raw foods and weight loss. I was thinking that most knew the information that I knew, but they didn’t. They don’t. They don’t even know what “vegan” is. Most people that is. A lot of people think that its “vegetarian” still and that you still eat animal products, milk and what vegetarians usually eat.
"There's something you know how to do that you can teach to somebody else who doesn’t know how to do it-someone who knows less than you about that particular subject. If everyone knew that they have value….If everybody knew that every single person in this world knows something that others may not know and they can serve the world by teaching those skills. … So all of that is valuable for people. So anyway… I would say that I probably would’ve slapped myself in the face and say, “You do know!! You know more than most people about weight loss with raw vegan foods-You've done it. So put it out there!”
Organize it in a certain way. Encourage yourself to do it. And be positive. And be joyful. And be happy. Know that people love to be taught by people who love what they do. I would’ve said, “Miranda, come on! You know more than most people out there about raw foods! You’ve lost the weight. You’ve kept it off. So go share it!”
You can just teach a very, very basic class. And then the more you learn, you teach the next one where you learned something new. Okay. So today I learned about milk and why it’s not good for you. Well then. There’s a class about milk right there. “Why milk isn’t good for you”. And then learn something new like “cacao”. That’s a whole class right there about how good cacao is for you. The benefits that it gives your body, etc.
I’m just saying an example. Design something that you can teach. The biggest thing is I only do what I love to do. What I’ve learned from my past experiences is if I don’t love it then I’m not gonna do it. Because I would be doing it without my heart being in it. So I want my heart to be in everything that I do.
Sometimes people ask me to do things and I’m like, “You know what? I don’t know that I would enjoy doing that.” And if you’re already thinking that then you’re not going to do it with love. I put my love into everything that I do. So you have to love what you do.
8) If you’ve ever had moments where you questioned what you were doing, how did you stay motivated? What kept you motivated whenever and if ever that happened?
Well, I have had moments when I’ve questioned my knowledge of things. And then I’d go back to the whole thing where I know more than most people coming to me. And I can teach them something. No.2- If for example, some thing has not felt good and then you question what you do. Then you focus on the things that you do love about it. For example, if something happened with the store where I don’t have as many products. And I’m questioning if people are even gonna come to my store, I come back to the fact that I do love to talk about raw foods. I do love to talk about what I’ve accomplished. And people usually tell me that I’m an inspiration to them. But I usually go back to the fact that I love what I do.
Everything in this life, people have accomplished because they persevered. If you persevere on something that doesn’t feel good, that’s not a good formula. Persevere on something that you really love. And then you really love it and you don’t feel like, “Oh, my God. It’s work.” It has to be something that you really love. Otherwise, why do it. Go back to the fact that, you love what you do. I love when people love my desserts. I love when people come to the restaurant and are like, “Oh, my God! You’re brilliant!” Or they come back and say, “You know, Miranda. After I heard you’re story, you’ve been an inspiration. And now I’m looking into learning more about raw food.” I go back to that. I go back to why I’m doing what I do. It’s because I love it and I’m passionate about helping people improve their life. So you go back to that and it’ll help motivate you to keep going.
9) What advice would you give to women seeking to do what you do?
There’s plenty for everybody. There’s plenty of love. There are plenty of business opportunities. There’s plenty of market out there. If you really think about how much we as a society are bombarded with unhealthy choices, I would rather see a hundred million of other businesses like mine. Just educate people so the children, growing up, will already know what vegan is so they can make a choice whether they want to eat it or not and why. If people are more exposed to healthy choices and more renewable opportunities, business opportunities... I would love to see a lot more of that out there.
Secondly, looking at their own value and their own talent. And then tweaking that business to be them as a whole. Them as a marketing tool. For instance, Viva Raw is me. It’s me and my personality and the fact that I’m outgoing. I’m an actress. I’m not shy. I just get out there. So then whatever it means to them… Whatever it is that makes those products unique… Offering their services in a way where they can provide value and in their own style. Use your style. It set you apart from everyone else.
10) Is there anything new and exciting that we can expect from your business in the future?
Yes! I am working on an online show. And I’ve been working on it for while. And I think that’s ready. I’m learning how to edit myself. I’m an actress and a producer. I’m gonna produce my own show. I’ll have different topics and guests on my show. It’ll be a very simple show where I educate people. I’m going to do and post a lot more video. I may even do some in Spanish.
**A note for Miranda**
Miranda, thanks for allowing me to interview you. It really means alot to me that you've taken the time to share your journey with everyone. I wish you great success in present and future things!
You can find Miranda Martinez at: