|Posted by Cat Cartmill on February 28, 2018 at 8:40 PM|
My dream is to make the world a better place, but as an entrepreneur I am just one woman, and there’s only so much I can do. Within these limitations I do what I’ve chosen with joy, and I’d like to keep on doing it, and doing it better. The best investment I can make is in me and my business. I’ve been self-employed since 2008 after being laid off from the job I took to pay the bills. I switched gears in 2015 and bought the lunch truck business. I took everything I had and bought an older truck with an older kitchen attachment. I discovered that driving around bringing affordable quality food to hungry people is pretty much my dream job. I get to work for myself, everyone is happy to see me, and I really like my boss. I get to bring my dog on occasion, play my favorite music and nobody is forced to hear me sing along.
My lunch truck fills a niche in an increasingly anonymous world by building personal connections. I hold a strong belief in building community, a better community, and doing my best to support those within that community. I believe in paying those that work for me a living wage. I believe in healthy food, and healthy customers, a healthy community, and a healthy lifestyle. I believe in supporting myself and my child comfortably and with hope for an expanding future.
I believe in leaving the world better than I found it. To that end I do my best to counter food waste, an incredible problem in our world. Like other forward looking entrepreneurs in the food industry, I am working on a no-food wasted goal. I have found diverse ways to do this. I distribute my leftovers to itinerant day workers (Cash Corner), stock the cooler at my local corner store to affordably feed those in my neighbourhood, and treat my friends and family.
I help my customers with micro-loans, feeding them now for payment later. In turn my suppliers help me out with micro-loans, supplying me now for payment later. It’s a trust based relationship not often found today.
As I’ve been developing relationships with my suppliers and customers, I’ve also been refining my business model, seeking input from others business owners, streamlining workflows, and exploring options to expand beyond the standard work week. I recognize that to make this business model from the last century relevant to this one, I need to up my game. To that end, I started partnering with small to mid-sized festivals and events to bring food to their patrons. I’m developing relationships with emerging local food producers to bring their brands directly to my customers, and I’m not afraid to try new things.
However, due to its age, my truck has needed some love (and some money) to keep it functioning. It gets plenty of use; I bring food to the job sites and offices every work day, regardless of what the weather is doing, it has to be ready to go when I am. Over the last few years I’ve been repairing and replacing as things have reached the top of my to-do list, sometimes by way of emergency. Last year with 400,000 km on the odometer it got a new motor and transmission. I’d love to get to the point of routine maintenance and optional upgrades like I have with the century cottage I call home.
To be successful in a competitive, ever evolving food industry it’s more than just the meal - image and marketing are critical. Customers used to modern food trucks with full vehicle wraps don’t consider flickering lights from ageing wiring “quirky.”
Receiving this investment from ATB would enable me to put a much needed new roof on the kitchen, and add attractive graphics to modernize the appeal of my business. I would be able to upgrade the wiring so the lights act as they should. I would be able to replace the tired speakers and keep my customers entertained while they’re lined up. New tires and larger wheels would keep the truck safe in all weather, so I can reach those needing feeding no matter the conditions. A fresh paint job would make my 14 year old truck look young again. I’d be able to provide my staff with more hours and make my truck work for me, instead of always working for my truck.
This investment into my business will have broad-ranging expanding benefits to not only my truck and my bottom line, but the workers rebuilding Calgary’s inner city, some of those still struggling to make ends meet, people who benefit from my unsold merchandise at the end of my work day, the festival arts community, the food entrepreneurs that I partner with, my employees, and my family.
I truly hope to be able to make use of this bounty from ATB to fulfil my dreams of improving the world, my goal of bringing good food to hungry workers, my aspirations of doing so as sustainably and ethically as possible, and my hopes for my family. $10,000 would make such difference to all of those.
This is what I am saving for.