In this episode, I share the early beginnings of my career and the start of in my kitchen, creating the brand. Working nine to five and someone else owning my time was never easy for me, especially at school, but from a very young age, I knew I had to pay my dues. I knew. What I wanted down the road. I actually have journals from my twenties where I sketched out and described the business that I want. It includes a team of people outlined each of their job descriptions and roles.
Anyway. I knew that I had to put in the time to work and learn from someone else first. Straight from university. I started working for the only event marketing company in Vancouver, Canada. I was there for two years, earning$18,000 a year. And that was a 1996. We worked really hard. Like we worked weekends, lots of overtime. We never got paid for it. It was never compensated. It was all for the experience. We also had a lot of fun and many of my favorite people are from those days and I'm still in touch with them. Building an event together from conception to completion. is a very intense experience. You become very close with those people. You rely on them and they rely on you. What you need to understand is there wasn't really an event industry. Back then in the nineties, we were pioneering the industry and what it would look like down the road. So when I wanted some experience with different types of events, there was nowhere else to go. Except on my own.
After two years, I became an independent contractor in the event industry. This is on the heels of one summer driving German hiking tours on three week trips around Alberta, Alaska, and British Columbia. Many stories there and that's for another time. But it took a lot of courage actually to go out there on my own. Um, I don't remember being scared. I was excited. It didn't even cross my mind that I wouldn't get contracts. I knew I would. And I actually did for many, many years, and it was all referral based, all built on relationships. I share this lesson with my teens all the time. Be kind and respectful and take the high road. The people you cross paths with now. Will most definitely be crossing your path again later in life. And how you treat people now will influence your relationship with them later on. Your integrity, your name is the most valuable asset you'll ever have. We all know this rings true now, even more so in our world filled with social media and very little privacy. The other piece of advice I share with them is to remain private and be careful who you share with, especially with social media, being such a presence in our lives. You don't want people knowing too much about your private life for so many reasons, but one that you may not think of is it actually can influence negotiations. Remember knowledge is power.
I remember my first business card. I was so proud of it. I spent way too much time designing that thing. I even included a little bit of silver foil on the cards. P M Ventures limited. That was the name of my first company. That name is my official, uh, my initials, obviously, but, uh, later on many years later, it was brought to my attention that instead of an event business, it sounded like an after hours escort service. One of the many lessons learned, get feedback from people in your industry or target market. Test things out. Keep asking questions. Keep getting feedback.
In My Kitchen is actually the second business that I have started. Not including PM ventures, limited. With a partner. I founded and operated and events and wedding company for a few years in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. That was a difficult experience and also great learning. I think. We know that a. Great learning often comes from hardship. My father always said in business, if you go into a partnership, always have at least 51% ownership. I didn't listen to him and I should have. As I started my new partnership, my 50 50 partnership in business. I also got engaged. Two major life partnerships starting at the same time. And I was commuting between Whistler and Vancouver. And for those of you who may not know that's about a two hour drive, Here's the lesson I learned. Don't rush into bed with a partner figuratively and literally, and of course my father's lesson in business, it makes it much easier if you own at least 51% of the business. It is very difficult to be in a 50 50 partnership from my experience. Anyway. Uh, in business, you need excellent communication skills and excellent mediator. In your back pocket and make sure you have an exit strategy written into your partnership agreement.
That is a very little bit about my career background and we're going to fast forward now, a couple more decades to beginning of in my kitchen. I'm going to talk about how in my kitchen came to life from the name to the look and feel also known as the brand. The brand is so important. And I actually didn't have a lot of experience creating a brand. I didn't really have to develop a brand too much with a PM ventures. That was all referrals and the wedding and events company. We created a name and logo, but that was about it. I knew that the brand was not only important to me to market in my kitchen, but I needed a strong brand to articulate to my future team of hosts that I would be recruiting.
It started. Uh, sitting in a kitchen, actually in Whistler with two of my closest friends who are also leaders in the field of marketing. It was the first time I shared my concept for this business. I have a tendency to get very passionate and excited about something. And then it is difficult for me to see the potential pitfalls or the negative side of an. That idea. Until it's too late. Side note here. I won the vote for grade 10 class president on the slogan. Positive polo for progress. Uh, it's real. It's a, it's a, I see the positive side. Almost to a fault sometimes. So with In My Kitchen, I sat on it and ruminated on it for a long time before I shared the concept, I solicitated feedback. And then I ran with it. I learned from my mistake of rushing into a business with the wedding and events company and my first marriage, actually, if we're being honest, Kerri and Christy were the first two people I shared this idea with and they loved it. At that moment, I stopped holding my breath and could now literally breathe some life into this idea. I knew they would tell me straight up if it was. A bad idea. And I also knew that they would be my target market. So what they thought mattered. And that's important because not everybody's opinion is going to matter. Over wine. We tossed around ideas for a name. And I suggested In My Kitchen, which had been in my head for many months, for me, it said it all so much happens. Literally in my kitchen, it just made sense. I got a resounding yes. From Kerri and Christy. And that was the beginning of getting in my kitchen off the ground.
After the business plan was complete. I needed to find someone who could create the brand for me. I knew inside me what I wanted in my kitchen to be, but it was really hard for me to articulate it to others. That's not a strength of mine. In comes, my brand fairy godmother, Maggie chock. And honestly it was pure luck. I landed with Maggie as my graphic designer. You know, five years later and I've never actually met Maggie in person. If I recall she was living in Amsterdam, when we started working together. She was referred to me by another friend who had worked with Maggie in the past. This was my first experience working with someone remotely. And I wanted to work with people that got excited by the idea of, In My Kitchen and really wanted to be a part of it too. That was very important to me. Maggie did understand and loved the concept of in my kitchen. So, as I said, I had a brand look and feel that was in my head. That I thought matched. What encompassed in my kitchen. And Maggie quickly shot down and took us in a completely different direction. And I am so glad she did. She did this because she could see that I had a huge disconnect between the vision I had for In My Kitchen, kitchen and how I was going to represent it. I had that piece of advice in my head that my dad gave me in my twenties, surround yourself with people who are experts in their field. Don't try to do everything yourself. Maggie was smarter than I was in how to articulate In My Kitchen. So I trusted her to create the look, feel everything. I didn't make it easy for her though. And there were a few moments of me getting cold feet and had a very hard time giving up that control and trusting in her process. Control I believe is born out of fear and anxiety. And it makes sense. I was full of fear and anxiety as I was basically handing my baby over to someone else to raise for a while. But Maggie, wasn't afraid to have an opinion different from mine. Don't sign up with people pleasers. It won't serve you. You need someone to hold a mirror up to you every now and then? And it worked. I ended up with a brand look and feel that is timeless represents In My Kitchen. And a set of branding guidelines that are comprehensive. Decisive. And include a collection of brand assets that have clear guidelines on how to use them. This is a document that I can give to anyone. From photographers, digital marketers, graphic designers, PR people. It allowed me to have consistency. And consistency. Is what moves everything forward. For me, I equate consistency with success.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got actually came from Christy. She said, invest in professional photography right away. This is not somewhere I would have put money right away, but I am so glad I did for this type of business. My biggest challenge with In My Kitchen, as I said, was communicating who and what we are. Remember pre COVID. If you signed up for an, In My Kitchen, culinary adventure, you're actually going to the home of the host for a cooking class and then sharing in a meal together with some people you might know or complete strangers. It is not easy. Getting people comfortable with the idea of going to a stranger's home for three hours. All our hosts go through a pretty rigorous vetting process, which I talk about in another episode. But still this experience was not for everyone. And I knew that. But for those people who were my target market. I needed them to understand what In My Kitchen was all about. And a picture says a thousand words. A great photographer was referred to me Helena Mcmurdo Hlena and i worked together on three photo shoots over the course of a year This was money well spent like Maggie Helena was also passionate about the concept of In My Kitchen so it made it easy for us to be on the same page I was able to give Helena maggie's branding guidelines and the two of them connected and next thing you know we have a shot list style we're shooting in my brother's then kitchen with my mom and i as the models So i have the brand guidelines and assets i have the photos and now i need to put it all together In comes the web developers For the website which in my mind was going to be my calling card not only for guests signing up. But first and foremost i needed Uh, great website In order to find my first six In My Kitchen host not an easy feat and i'll chat more about that in the next episode
I've really enjoyed doing this episode in reflecting on the past 30 years of my career. Wow. Um, I hope you enjoyed it as well. If you would like to continue the conversation, um, move over to our Facebook group, a new private group that I have started. It's a four women travelers who love food and culture. So typically it's where I add some more information, uh, resources. We talk a lot about. Uh, travel food culture. So if it's something that you may be interested or you think someone, you know, would be interested, please come and find us again. It's in my kitchen. A group for women travelers who love food and culture. I do want to thank you for continuing to come back and listen to my podcast. I really appreciate it. I would also love to hear from you. You can send me a message on Instagram@inmykitchenpaula, or, uh, email firstname.lastname@example.org and the links are in the show notes. I am excited to offer my free guide, 10 unique travel and food tips. You won't find anywhere else and you won't find them anywhere else because they are directly from our, In My Kitchen host. The link is in the show notes and there's some really great info in there. Thanks so much for tuning into this episode. If you have any questions, just ask me, I'll be happy to chat with you. In the meantime take the first step on your next culinary adventure and sign up for my free guide