Kathleen Shannon 0:00
Kathleen here and before we jump into today's episode, I have a quick favor to ask of you. One of our big boss goals is to get to the top of the iTunes podcast business chart and we need your help. So please pause for a moment to subscribe on iTunes, even if it isn't where you listen to our podcasts because it really helps us out. And while you're there, feel free to leave us a rating and review. Okay, let's jump into the show. Hello, and welcome to being boss, a podcast
Emily Thompson 0:32
for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.
Unknown Speaker 0:36
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.
Kendra Aronson 0:37
I'm Kendra Aronson and I'm being boss.
Kathleen Shannon 0:44
Alright, you guys, today we are talking about what it takes to self publish a book or even just see a passion project through from beginning to end, and really holding tight to your vision and doing the work it takes to make something with our friend Kendra Aronson. As always, you can find all the tools, books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss dot club. Also, I wanted to mention that every so often, we have podcast chats, and hangouts live with me and Emily. And you can sign up for those at being boss club slash events, or make sure that you're on our newsletter list. And we'll let you know when those are happening. Hey, guys, I think that you all know by now that we are huge fans of fresh books, cloud accounting, and they've recently rolled out a new platform that is beautiful and intuitive, and incredibly thoughtful. I even got to talk to their design team about what they were thinking as they were developing the new platform. And I cannot speak highly enough about how robust freshbooks accounting is, but also how intuitive and easy it is for a creative entrepreneur to use. You do not need a degree in accounting to keep track of your business. But what I really want to tell you today is that even if you are still really small in your work, and maybe you just have a creative side hustle or you just started freelancing, it is never too soon to go ahead and start getting organized with your money. And hey, the more organized you get with it, the more of it you're going to make I promise it seems to work that way. So you can try fresh books for free by going to www.freshbooks.com slash being boss and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section. Kendra Aronson is the vision and voice behind the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market cookbook, simple seasonal recipes and short stories from the central coast of California. her enthusiasm and endless energy made it real from the writing recipe testing and food photography to the editorial design and self publishing. And you guys this episode isn't just about what it takes to self publish a cookbook or even write a cookbook, but it's a good lesson for anyone who's really just wanting to see a project through take a listen. Kendra, we're so excited to have you on being boss. The last time we were hanging out we were half naked by a pool.
Unknown Speaker 3:16
Emily Thompson 3:17
Kendra Aronson 3:18
I know I am so looking forward to the next designer vaycay I've actually been bugging Alyssa and promised to give me the dates which they don't know yet. Just want to clear my calendar and go
Kathleen Shannon 3:31
Yes, I'm I tried not going one year and then I was like I gotta go. So last minute ticket. I think I shared a room. I've shared a room with Alyssa. guys and I just crash with you.
Kendra Aronson 3:45
Yeah, and I'm so glad that's where I got to meet Emily and in real life too. Because I've
Unknown Speaker 3:50
Unknown Speaker 3:51
Yeah, that was a fun
Emily Thompson 3:52
time. I was so glad to be connected with like, oh my like online designer, boss, buddies, designer vaycay for sure. And then we did we just I remember sitting by the pool and talking about like courses and food. funding.
Unknown Speaker 4:10
Absolutely. I love it.
Kathleen Shannon 4:13
So the first year I met you at designer vaycay you were coming out with a cookbook and I remember you talking about it. And then you had a Kickstarter campaign. And I was like, oh, contribute. I don't contribute to a lot of Kickstarters. But anytime a friend of mine is launching something I definitely do. Yeah. And so then a few months later, here's the other thing about the Kickstarter is I contribute to is that half the time, probably even 75% of the time I never get anything back. Oh, nothing ever happens. And I don't know if it's that the Kickstarter wasn't funded or if I just didn't get my thing. So it was a pleasant surprise. months later I get this huge, beautiful cookbook in the mail. Eggs. Yeah, thank
Kendra Aronson 4:57
you again so much for supporting me Yeah, I do remember my first designer vaycay. I actually got a last minute ticket, it was very last minute that I got to go. I think someone had to drop out last second. So they had a few tickets available. And I remember being there and I wasn't yet I had not launched my creative studio. And I was just starting to go into the season of the Kickstarter. And it I remember being there and meeting everyone and thinking like, Oh, my God, I shouldn't be here right now who let me in, who let this happen? This is so much fun. And just being surrounded by so many creative women and so much talent and energy and you're in the desert, and it's beautiful. And yeah, that was like a game changing conference for me.
Kathleen Shannon 5:50
It's great. So for those of you listeners who don't know what designer vaycay is, it is actually a I wouldn't even call it a conference. It truly is a vacation, right? Where at the first year I went, there was 20 of us hanging out poolside at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. And then the next year, there were 50. And the next year, there were 100. And then last year, Emily and I actually spoke at designer vaycay. And so it's like kind of a vacation conference for women designers. And it's it's gotten huge. I feel like last year there were maybe what 200 300 people there. Yeah, I
Kendra Aronson 6:27
think it was probably 250. The first year that I went was the year that it was 100 people and I remember a lot of the veterans from year one and two were saying, Oh my god, it's so big now. And I was just stoked to meet so many people.
Kathleen Shannon 6:43
I love it. So it was definitely one of the first kind of conferences that I went to that really just felt so chill and supportive and actually helped inspire the being boss vacations which we have had in New Orleans, and then Miami and then we're doing it again in New Orleans this year. So I think that North New Orleans is kind of like our home ground for that. But um, anyway, it's just a great place. And I've made so many amazing connections there including with you. And so I want to just introduce you to our listeners, tell us who you are and what you're up to, and how you got there.
Kendra Aronson 7:23
Yeah, definitely. So my name is Kendra Aronson and I am the writer, photographer, designer and self publisher of the San Luis Obispo farmer's market cookbook. So I'm based in San Luis Obispo, which is on the central coast of California. It's equidistant from San Francisco and Los Angeles. So smack dab in the middle right on the coast. super beautiful town. We're known for our farmers markets, like their 20 weekly farmers markets, tons of great food and simple fresh produce grown everywhere. And yeah, I am. I actually came up here to San Luis Obispo, which I'm going to call slow. That's what everyone calls it here. It's a little abbreviation. So I moved too slow to attend Cal Poly in 2009. That's the university that's here. And by the way, I can't hear you guys.
Kathleen Shannon 8:26
Is that supposed to be happening is because we're not talking at all?
Unknown Speaker 8:33
sounded like the audio
Unknown Speaker 8:34
Kathleen Shannon 8:38
because for once real listening. See, listeners? This is what happens whenever we shut our traps. Afraid that our audio has gone to violence, I'm like, Oh, no.
Unknown Speaker 8:53
Kendra Aronson 8:54
so I'm, I'm living in slo and I'm attending college. And I actually studied Spanish, French and Italian and my undergrad. So Emily, I can relate to you a lot. I love it. When you bring up that you study geography. I'm like, Yeah, me too, like totally different degree. And not really using it today, but still loved that I studied all those languages. Yeah, so I was doing that. And I just love learning about culture and history and literature and all that. And while I was here, I knew that I wanted to lay down roots in San Luis Obispo, like, okay, I found my home. How do I make this happen? How do I continue to live here after graduating, and at the time it was I'm sorry, I came to college in 2005. So I graduated 2009 and there were no jobs at all. Definitely no jobs in this area that were language related. But At the end of my program, I also did a TESOL certificate, excuse me, teaching English as a second language. And so I did that really fell in love with that certification process. And I knew, okay, I can teach English, either to students studying abroad at Cal Poly, or I can teach English to immigrants or adult language learners at the community college. So this is how in like the grand scheme, the grand plan, how I can come back to slow and live here and make it. So that was like the safe career path. And that's kind of the only path that I had in mind for actually moving back here. Like it felt, you know, traditional and safe and easy to explain, like, I'm a teacher. And yeah, I just made sense. And again, at the time, not a lot of jobs in the area, and it felt like the one and only way to do it. So um, luckily enough, when I was at Cal Poly, I studied abroad a few times between my freshman and sophomore year, I did a summer in Italy, it was amazing. At the beginning of my junior year, I went to Spain for a semester. And then once I graduated Cal Poly, I actually went abroad for six months to Paris, and I was an au pair, I was a nanny. So nice, super fun. Yeah, my job without the kids. Totally, is so much fun. Um, so I've always loved language and traveling. And while I was abroad, that's when I applied to a graduate program in San Francisco. And that was for teasle, teaching English to speakers of other languages. And again, with my whole big plan of I'm eventually going to make it back to San Luis Obispo. But first, I need to go get this two year degree so that I can then secure a job back and slow. And I was there and I so my story zigzags all over just like a lot of people's love
Kathleen Shannon 12:25
Kendra Aronson 12:28
Yeah, just like a lot of people on this podcast and in a creative field in general. So I'm in San Francisco, I got into the program at San Francisco State. And I'm there and I'm having a really rough time with the program. really didn't help that I got bedbugs the week before grad school started, which was awful.
Kathleen Shannon 12:54
It only happened in New York.
Kendra Aronson 12:57
It was during the epidemic when it was happening in New York and San Francisco. And it was like a huge outbreak. It was terrible. So I moved to this new city. And I'm starting this new program new life. I just took out all these loans to start this grad program. And I'm not really super happy with the program, but I'm also not a quitter. So I do a semester I'm like, I'm kind of on the fence, but I don't know, I just have to see it out for another semester. I can't just quit after six months.
Kathleen Shannon 13:33
So I have a question. What did you not like about it? Because sometimes I think I have this going back to school fantasy. And sometimes I wonder if I'm just too old? And do you think that maybe you just experienced too much life at that point that you were too old? Or was it the program itself?
Unknown Speaker 13:48
Yeah, no, um,
Kendra Aronson 13:49
I think it was more the program itself and more that, Oh, is this really what I want to do? And, you know, I had only taken a year off between college and grad school. So I was one of the youngest in the program. A lot of people were, you know, late 20s to mid 30s, or even mid 40s going back. And so, yeah, I didn't I didn't feel it was that I think I just felt, you know, more in that conundrum of like, what am I doing? What do I want to do? Is this my real purpose? You know, all those questions. And then, yeah, you know, you're experimenting with that. But you've also have this huge financial burden, because you've taken out loans, you're like, well, this better be what I want to do. I just think a lot of time money into this is called sunk costs.
sunk cost fallacy. Yeah, there's I think, um, with that, I think that that's can be a good and bad thing, right? Like, if you're already invested in a project, you want to see it through. But then, you know, there's times like, you know, let's say people Who? Yeah, if they're in school for a long amount of time, but then they know they're not going to use their degree, I don't know, maybe it's just better to pull out and start what you really want to do. But anyways, I don't actually regret any of my time there. But so I stick around for a second semester. And by the end, I'm getting burned out, I'm like, ah, I really don't think this is what I want to do. Here, I'll come up with a plan, I'm going to apply to a few grants and scholarships. If I get one, I have to stay, you know, because that'll, like, it's worth it. And then I actually ended up getting two federal grants and three scholarships. So it was completely paid for, I'm like, Well, shit, I feel like they just called my bluff. Now I have to go. Like, I can't, I'm not an idiot, I can't not walk away if this second year is completely taken care of and paid for. I'm like, Alright, you're too Let's do this. Let's finish this program. And it became very, very obvious day one. I'm in class sitting there. And I'm like, Oh, no, this is free. And I don't want to be your right now. What if I don't know, but I already had taken out the loans from the first year. So okay, either I walk away now. And I still have to repay those loans. Or I just stick it out for another year. Get it done. Finish have this degree under my belt. Again, it all it all sounds, you know, kind of negative right now, but I did learn a lot. There's so many nuggets that I took away from grad school that we So did you stick with
Kathleen Shannon 16:44
Kendra Aronson 16:44
I did. Yeah. I finished. Good.
Unknown Speaker 16:48
Emily Thompson 16:51
You're going on this emotional journey?
Kathleen Shannon 16:55
Your mom right now. Good.
Unknown Speaker 16:58
Good. Sticking that out?
Kendra Aronson 17:01
Yeah, totally. I guess it's just a really, you know, especially for the listeners out there. Like it could be a relatable story where you're, you're on this track, and you're thinking like, Oh, well, I must finish. And again, I am really glad that I finished I you know, I learned how to really manage money and be financially capable and paying off my student loans on time. And I learned how to work on group projects and write papers. And you know, now I'm a writer. And now I'm a web designer, like I those two skills I learned basically through grad school without even knowing it.
Kathleen Shannon 17:40
And I think there's something to developing that work ethic of just seeing something through and if knowledge gives us nothing else, ability to commit and see something through for two to four years is really fantastic. And so that's that's kind of my thought on it. And like you're saying these things that came up through it. I don't think that any effort is a wasted one. And I think that a lot of people feel like this, about their day jobs or about school or even about some relationships. We're all learning from all of these experiences. And it certainly sounds like you learned a lot during your experience. So then what happened after college after Yeah,
Kendra Aronson 18:23
yeah. So after Yeah, so after college after grad school. So Meanwhile, during grad school, I was working this incredible part time job. I was a cheesemonger, I shot dream job, it was so much fun and Dream Team shout out to mission cheese in San Francisco. And I've, I've always worked in the food industry. During high school and college and grad school, I always had, you know, that was the way that I would make money because it's a very flexible job. It's easy, fast money. So I was working there. And I, it was, while I was in the Bay Area, that's when I really fell in love with the food scene. So I was working at Mission cheese was surrounded by all these people who were really passionate about, like artisanal small batch, you know, all the typical, like, seasonal farm fresh food. And it's like, oh, I found like a mini tribe of people who want to talk about food all the time and eat it all the time and go to the hip, new restaurants and all that. And so while I was in San Francisco, I was actually shopping at a farmers market up there. And I came across this book called The San Francisco fairy building farmer's market cookbook. It was sweet. It was like a smaller format book. There was a produce buying guide, there was profiles of farmers and producers And I bought it right on the spot. I loved it fell in love with it. And I started to think about again, my grand plan of moving back to San Luis Obispo. And I thought, Wow, this looks amazing. This would do really well in San Luis Obispo. I wonder if there's other books out there that are similar to this title. And so I started to research in Santa Monica had their own farmer's market cookbook. Portland, Seattle, Brookland, LA, all these different towns, Davis, they all had their very own cookbook for their Farmers Market scene. But at the time, San Luis Obispo didn't have one yet. Like all this idea. This is like a golden nugget of an idea. This has been done in other cities. You know, it's only a matter of time before slow gets their own. So I had this idea in my head. And of course, I also came across this book, fall 2010. Right, right when my program started. So the whole time during two years of grad school. I'm like daydreaming of this book. I'm like, oh, it would look like this. It would, it would feature these kinds of recipes. And I just I can't get the idea out of my head. I'm, like, just constantly nagging my thoughts, like in the best way possible. And I yeah, so in the meantime, again, since I'm working a part time job, going to school hustling that out, I in my free time, I would be going to all these restaurants and meeting people meeting bartenders meeting servers, asking them about the food and the recipes and the people behind them. There was this magazine called seven by seven. It's a lifestyle magazine in San Francisco. And every year they come out with 100 things you must eat and 50 things you must drink. So I created two blogs, and I ate and drank my way through those lists. Because for me, yeah, super fun. Because I, I was then starting to take my cookbook idea seriously, like, Okay, if I do this, what sort of training wheels project can I do in the meantime to like, calm my mind? And, you know, like, release this creativity? And am I even capable of creating a cookbook? Do I like the food writing? Do I like the food photography? Do I like interviewing? Do I like blogging and sharing it on social media? Okay, I
Kathleen Shannon 22:33
have to pause here because having a training wheels project, we're going to adopt that into our vernacular From now on, because so many creatives have this idea that they want to do something that they might not even actually like doing whenever push comes to shove. I mean, we're seeing this a lot with podcasts right now. Everyone wants a podcast, kind of like how everyone used to want a blog or a blog. And yeah, it takes a lot of work. And if you don't like doing it, it's not going to be worth it. So, ah, yeah, training that training wheels. So is that what you learned your skills in design? And, you know, like that comes later? Because one thing I want to pause and say is that this book is beautiful. He is on point, the other photography, the typography, I mean, all of it is so well done in the size of it alone took a creative decision making process. Okay, so keep Yeah,
Kendra Aronson 23:33
yeah. So it was during It was during San Francisco that I was really honing in on my food writing voice because I had this blog, and it's, you know, not not many people read it. But that was a good thing of like, Okay, this is where I can practice. This is where I can like really find my voice and how I write and at the time, I didn't have a nice, a nice DSLR camera, but I had, this is like pre iPhone. I had my little point and shoot camera that I would take and I could record little videos of, you know, bartenders making the drinks or I would take photos of my food and all that. So just getting practice and familiar love
Emily Thompson 24:13
that. Like you were like the girl who was taking photos of your food before anyone was taking photos of their food.
Kendra Aronson 24:19
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, no, I like yeah, pre Instagram. So I should back up. I got my first analog camera. When I was six or seven. My dad gave it to me. So I've always had a camera in my bag at all times. Like I've always been over documenting my whole life. So when Instagram came around, it was perfect. It was like, Oh, great, a portal in which I can actually share all these images. So yeah, I've definitely always had like an eye for photography. But again, it was with this cookbook, where it's like, oh, now I can actually become skilled at this like this isn't just a hobby. So yeah, the training little projects was great, because I ended up eating and drinking all the things. Which is so much fun. And
Kathleen Shannon 25:11
did that do anything interesting for your social life? Um, yeah. And drink way away through everything.
Kendra Aronson 25:18
Yeah, it was awesome. Because people, all my friends knew that I was doing it. And they also had the list. So they'd say, hey, when you go to spot number 47, take me with you. Or, hey, I really want to try that drink at spot number 15. Let's go. So I actually went with a lot of people. And it was, it was super fun. Plus, on my days off, I'd be like, great, I'm gonna go eat an appetizer here, walk across Street, have a cocktail there, hop on BART go have dinner. They're like, it was awesome. I loved it. There was like, an actual purpose behind all of the eating and drinking. Super fun. Um, yeah.
Emily Thompson 25:59
Kendra Aronson 26:00
at the end of the project, and like, this is a lot of fun. And I was able to do it. And it was proof, basically, to myself that okay, I'm capable of doing this, I can absolutely tackle a cookbook, because now I have the confidence and know how have, you know, kind of the steps of how to get there. But I'm definitely want to preface when I started the cookbook. I was not a writer at all, you know, I penned my blogs, but you know, that, to me, that didn't really count. I had never been formally published. When it came to photography, again, yes, I was familiar, but I didn't know all the settings on my camera. I had never read my camera manual, really. When it came to design, I didn't own a single Adobe program had never used it. And then when it came to cooking, like I had no formal culinary training. I just really loved cooking and baking at home and working in restaurants, but always in the front of the house, never back of the house.
Emily Thompson 27:09
Kendra Aronson 27:10
I always like hearing the underdog stories. Like Yeah, I didn't know what I was doing. And then I made this thing. And I figured it out. And I did it. And I did the work and I put my head down and I worked really hard on it. So yeah, I let's see. So I'm again living in San Francisco. I finished my program. I reconnect with my now husband, who at the time was living in San Luis Obispo, and we get to get on her. It was amazing. It was like oh my god, the stars are aligning. I cannot believe this. He is already living and
Kathleen Shannon 27:52
whenever you were on Facebook just looking for directions. In slow. No.
Kendra Aronson 28:00
Yeah. So we had actually met in college. We were super good friends in college, but then he just never left slow. And anyways, yes, long story short.
Kathleen Shannon 28:12
I'm just kidding, by the way. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 28:16
It was there.
Kendra Aronson 28:18
But it was it was great. Because it was then I moved back to slow April 2013. And now is like, okay, no excuses. I have to start this book. It's now or never. I know, it's gonna take me a few years. And it's an idea that has obviously resonated with other cities. So it's, if I don't do it, someone's gonna do it. That's really how I felt about it. And I and I kept the idea. My friends knew about it, but I kept it very guarded. Like, I was very paranoid about my idea getting out, because I didn't want someone else to swoop in and do it. And yeah, so I moved here. Again, I just felt like okay, I have all the odds against me in terms of I don't have credentials and doing this. I don't know what I'm doing. I also don't have a car and the county is pretty big and home, I can get to all 20 farmers markets, but it's just, you know, like, you figure it out, you just do it and you actually do the work. I love that you preach that podcast all the time. And um, yeah, so for two and a half years, I just built up all the skill sets. Basically went to like the University of YouTube and Skillshare.
Kathleen Shannon 29:41
Okay, so over two years, are you starting to develop the recipes and write and do some photography or like what was your very next first step after moving back? And what was your job? Like? How are you making money? Oh, yeah, a
Kendra Aronson 29:56
very good question. Yeah. I did. Yeah. actually taught English online for about three years. So I did use my degree. And yeah, that was like my day job paying the bills was teaching online. And then I was also, you know, like hodgepodge everything together. So teaching English online, I was also the editor of field to vase, which is sadly no longer but it was a sister project of farm girl flowers. So their whole thing was like the field to vase movement, which is similar to the farm to table movement, it was a really good fit, I loved it. And I did that for two years. And then that project ran out of funding. But um, anyways, super great. So I was working on those two things. First of all, those were like paying the bills. And then I was working on the cookbook. Meanwhile, I'm also building up my creative studio clientele, which is another story, but we'll just stick to the cookbook for now. Um, and yeah, so the first thing that I did is, I actually found a printer, because I knew that I knew automatically I was going to self publish, because it's such a localized product, it just made sense. And I also, I didn't want anyone telling me what to do. You know, I had a very strong vision of the writing the chapters, you know, everything down, like you said, from the typography, the fonts, the images, the editorial layout, everything, like I had this very strong vision in my mind, and I didn't want a publishing house telling me what to do so, and also to it had always started as a passion project first, like I never set out to make money on this book, I never thought it would be as successful as it is today.
Kathleen Shannon 31:59
So okay, so making a book is expensive.
Unknown Speaker 32:03
Kathleen Shannon 32:06
We've looked into our options, and it also takes a lot of drive and motivation. And for us traditional
Emily Thompson 32:15
time, it's not just like drive for a month or two, like, yeah, for a moment alone. Totally.
Kathleen Shannon 32:24
Yeah, it's just sort of, like you have that part down like an even just speaking to your grad school experience that you kind of knew what it was to commit to something and your training wheels project that you had done the work to set yourself up to be able to commit to a huge project and figure it out as you go. But what about the money part? Yeah, obviously, Kickstarter. And that's how I got a copy of the book. So is that the route that you decided to take to fund it?
Kendra Aronson 32:52
Yes. So while I was working on the book, um, you know, the only thing that quote, needed funding was, you know, me buying ingredients to recipe test, which, you know, I was already buying those things anyways to cook us, you know, meals throughout the week. So just groceries, it wasn't really an added expense there. I did actually invest in a DSLR camera. And, and I did invest in a really big, I'm on the screen right now, the Mac computer because I knew Okay, and then I invested in the the Adobe programs, but I took out like miniature loans from my husband, husband and my family. So I'm like, okay, like, and they're like, yeah, sure, like, we can help you out. And I'm like, No, but I want to pay it back. Like, I don't just want to be given these things. Like I always feel like I need to earn everything. Um, and so where are they zero interest loans? Yes.
Kathleen Shannon 33:58
Yeah, that's actually like, really interesting, because no one ever talks about this, but it's something that I've done. I've taken out loans with my parents before at zero interest, and I have paid it back. And I think it's something that's not really talked about much on being paused. But I think it's something that probably happens more often than we think it does. whenever it comes home business or even funding a side project.
Kendra Aronson 34:20
Yeah, so yeah, with like the groceries. We were paying that on our own with the camera. I think I borrowed I think it was close to like four grand for my husband. He's like, this is ridiculous. Let me just pay it. I'm like, absolutely not. I am paying you back for the way
Kathleen Shannon 34:37
and were you guys married at this point?
Kendra Aronson 34:39
I think we were at that point. Yeah, I just I again, like I feel like we need to like earn it. I'm like funny about money. And that sense. We're like, no, this is for like my business or like this is I don't know, I just, again, I just feel like it's like with grad school like I took out those loans in my name when we got married, he's like, let's just wipe that debt. And I said, No, I am paying for that. Like that's coming out of my
Kathleen Shannon 35:08
Unknown Speaker 35:10
No, I'm a middle sibling.
Kathleen Shannon 35:12
No, your middle.
Definitely not the youngest. Yeah, that's babies are like, I'll take that. Thanks. Yeah.
Kendra Aronson 35:26
Yeah, and like it's again, super sweet and super supportive of him. It's just me. I'm a Taurus. I'm very stubborn. And yeah, I just feel like I need to, like earn it and I want to be proud and say like, yeah, I put myself through school or like, yeah, I of course, I had help with getting the computer from my parents, but I paid him back in full and then the camera for my husband, but paid him back in full. So yeah, it just like it's more of like a stubborn like, I'm just like, very proud of it.
Kathleen Shannon 35:57
Kendra Aronson 35:58
Yes. Okay, so it was spring 2009 when Kickstarter was founded, and it was fall 2010 that I had the idea for the book. So at this point, like Kickstarter was gaining traction as a platform. And I knew like, Kay, it's only a matter of time, by the time that my book comes out. People will know what Kickstarter is, it'll be a thing. crowdfunding will be on everybody's radar. And so I knew I started the project, knowing I went into it, you know, three years prior, knowing that I was going to launch a Kickstarter. Hey, I
Kathleen Shannon 36:35
just want to comment on how much I love how much foresight you have, like, wanted to be in San Luis Obispo. And you know that I you wanted to have it be Kickstarter, and you knew that you wanted to do this cookbook. Anyway, I'm just commenting on this because I think it's a rare thing.
Emily Thompson 36:55
I don't even think is that rare, but it's definitely like a big magic thing where you know, I, this project was meant to be birthed through you. And it was very specific.
Kendra Aronson 37:08
Totally. Yeah, I feel like at since my career path has always zigzag. There's always like one thing that I'll latch on to, and that's kind of the driving force for everything. So yeah, it's like, Okay, I know my location. Alright, I know the project. And now it's like, currently, I'm like, Okay, I know what my next big project is. Or I know, like,
Kathleen Shannon 37:30
I love this so much. I love the idea of just being able to latch on to one thing, because I think that what creates a lot of overwhelm. And creatives is whenever we all want to do all the things. So let's just latch on to one thing mine right now as being a New York Times bestselling author, a model, let's just write the best book we can have right now. And then and you know, you just break it down into little steps along the way, but just having that one anchor point, then you can make all your decisions through that point where you're saying, well, this help me get to San Luis Obispo, yes or no? will this help me create the cookbook? Yes or no? will this help me become a New York Times bestselling author? Yes or no?
Kendra Aronson 38:11
Yes. I also want to make it on that list for my next book. Yeah, so yeah, so I knew Okay, Kickstarter is my jam. It's my platform I'm going to launch on there. And what I love about Kickstarter is it's the democratization of access and discovery, right? Like there's no barrier barriers to entry. And the sky's the limit in terms of having your project be discovered. So I felt like I had done everything, right. Like I read all their blog posts, read all their tips, all their suggestions, read the handbook that's on their site, they have so many resources to set people up for success. And then I got lucky. Like, that's really what I think. Because they, you can get like a staff pic, or of the 1000s of projects that are live at any given moment. They can, you know, have their favorites. I did that. Alright, I got on that. I actually ended up on the front page of kickstarter.com, which was crazy. And so yeah, just like along the way, I felt like there was, you know, all of these moments in which I had like a ton of lucky breaks. Of course, I worked really hard for two and a half, three years to get to that lucky break point. But yeah, I feel like yeah, it's just such a powerful platform, and I just really studied it.
Kathleen Shannon 39:43
I have such mixed feelings about luck. Because yes, in a little bit of magic, and I do believe in a little bit of luck, and I think even the success that we've had with this podcast comes from a little bit of luck, but that's backed up by a lot of really hard work and expertise Lee leading up to it right. So I remember even early in recording the podcast, saying that, yeah, it's easy to look like an overnight success 10 years later. And that's kind of what happened with your cookbook. But had you not read the Kickstarter handbook? I mean, how many people are actually doing that and followed all the rules? I think that it's in following those rules and paying attention to the advice that Kickstarter has to give about how to have a successful project that they noticed you. And so they weren't just noticing the project, I'm sure. They were noticing that you were doing everything to their standards. And so of course, you're going to rise to the top right. What do you think? Yeah, Emily, what do you What's your relationship with luck?
Emily Thompson 40:44
I love me some luck. But I completely agree. I feel like I've like luck happens at a certain point. But you have to get yourself there first. And if you don't do the work to get you to that place, you're going to miss out on the chance. But if you if you are meeting luck where it is, then you've made yourself I guess worthy, almost of like attaining that luck. So I agree, I think I think there probably are like, there definitely are cases of like weird lucky chances of like, you know, being born into a family where you have millions of dollars at your disposal, or whatever it may be. But even then, like, is that luck? Like you still have whatever, we go on that tangent forever? But, um, but yes, I do. I do believe in luck. But I believe you have to do the work to get yourself to that place where it will meet you.
Kathleen Shannon 41:34
You have to expand your capacity for luck by work. Yeah,
Kendra Aronson 41:39
yeah, nugget. Yes. Yeah, so I am. For me, the biggest thing with my own Kickstarter is there was a lot of, I knew my, my audience and who, in this area in San Luis Obispo, I love it. But I feel that it's always like five to 10 years behind in terms of technology. And so which is crazy, we have a Polytechnic University here and anyways. But um, a lot of people before I launched the project, when I was like, Hey, I'm gonna I'm gonna launch this pre order campaign on Kickstarter. And their eyes were just glaze over, like Kickstarter. What, what is crowdfunding mean? Like, they had never heard of these terms before. I'm like, Oh, that's noted. Okay, I'm going to spend a lot of my Kickstarter campaign video in all my marketing materials explaining how Kickstarter works. Because, you know, there's a lot of education that needs to go into this, if I'm going to convince people to pledge to the campaign. And I was actually looking at the numbers of the stats, Kickstarter gives you once your campaign is successful. And I had 418 backers 205, it was their first time pledging on Kickstarter. So that's half of the people, you know, they had to sign up for the site, sync it with their credit card, pick the reward that they want to pledge, like, there's so many steps in which I could have lost them. So just explaining, like, Hey, this is how it works. And I also felt the, you know, the pressure not only to launch a successful campaign, and make it on my own, but I also felt that, Okay, I'm going to launch this Kickstarter, and it needs to be successful, not only for me, but everyone within my local community, so that other people in my community can launch Kickstarters. And people now know what it is. Like, it's not there's like a lot riding on this. It's not just my own project, or even, like you said earlier at this interview of it, you're like, oh, I've pledged before and then I haven't received my reward. And I too, have pledged to Kickstarter campaigns. It's like, Dude, it's been two years. Where's that T shirt that you promised me? You know? And so it's like you You know, you have to up the playing field so that everyone takes the platform seriously and you have to see the project through and actually deliver on what you say you're going to deliver on because there's there's nothing worse when you when you pledge to a campaign and then it's just radio silence.
Kathleen Shannon 44:22
I love that you
Emily Thompson 44:23
had such a sense of responsibility with like, not only like portraying your you know, local markets and you know, whatever way for your book and holding yourself responsible for you know, creating a great campaign for yourself, but also like, for Kickstarter as a whole and for your community using Kickstarter in the future. Like, that's some heavy shit, though, like, seems like like tapping into that definitely pushed you to do your absolute best, as opposed to just doing what you know, felt right to you at that moment, because it's something you wanted to accomplish.
Unknown Speaker 45:00
Kathleen Shannon 45:01
and your Kickstarter was a huge success. So you raised over $26,000. In preorder sales, you sold out of your first print run of 2000 copies in just 20 days. And now the book is in its third print run, and has sold over 7000 copies. Now, that number might feel really huge, or it might feel really small, just depending on your point of contact. So with us in traditional publishing, if we sell 7000 copies, we're in trouble.
Unknown Speaker 45:35
Kathleen Shannon 45:36
Yeah, you're self publishing, and especially within your community, because I'm guessing that the book is mostly remaining local, like, you're probably not sending too many of them in the mail to people like me. Yeah.
Kendra Aronson 45:51
Yeah, the majority of copies. So I now have over 80, retailers and slow County. Like you said, 7000 copies, the majority of those copies, to my knowledge, have stayed in the area. Most of the online book sales that I do, those are going outside of the county, mostly within the state of California, but also other states. And it's usually because someone has some sort of tie to the town. Like, they went to Cal Poly, or they're a tourist passing through or whatnot.
Kathleen Shannon 46:27
Yeah, so they met this girl making side of the pool. And Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. Exactly. So is it? How's it been? Has it been profitable? Yeah, talk about money a little bit.
Kendra Aronson 46:40
Yeah, sure. Okay, so going back to to Kickstarter, I had raised my goal was to raise 12k, because that Kickstarter says, you know, put, like, the absolute bare bones minimum that you need. In reality I needed like, 25 30k. But 12k felt safe, like, okay, I, I feel confident I can raise this much. You can always get over funded, you just can't get underfunded. So 12k. If I just meet that I'll probably net 10. And then I have enough in savings. My husband and I had been saving for a few years of we can make up the difference. Be nice to get over funded. But you know, we'll see. So, yeah, the book, The first print run ended up costing around 30k. And that was just for 2000 copies. So yeah, it's a big deal. It's like for a lot of money to print a book and especially something that's quality, and I used really thick paper and it's large format, it's nine by 12, and full color and bleeding photos and all like French flaps, like the whole nine yards. I'm like, I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna write a book and put my name on it. Um, yeah, so that was, that was a lot a lot of money. So it was great to be overfunded. And it just really took off the took the financial burden off of us as a couple. And then yeah, so about 500 of those 2000 books I pre sold in the Kickstarter pre order campaign. And then when the book hit the shelves December 1, it's sold like crazy, like I did never, ever ever in a million years expect that I would sell out that quickly. I thought that I would honestly have cartons of cookbooks in our garage for like five years um and the way that I arrived on 2000 copies was just like working back and forth with my printer in terms of Okay, you know, the more I order the less it is price per unit but I don't want to order a million and you know, just finding that sweet balance and yeah, so when I sold out of the first print run that's when I realized oh shoot I have a business like there is a demand I this is like no longer a passion project. Did
Kathleen Shannon 49:08
you have enough money did you have enough money from that first print run to then afford a second print run because of the first one's pre orders like how does that work in that second run?
Kendra Aronson 49:18
Totally so I again I never went into it thinking that I would like make money if anything I thought oh, well maybe I'll make you know I won't I don't want to lose money on this passion project. But I'm also not going to be rolling in it so Um, so yeah, sold out the first print run. And for the first time in like three years I like actually had money in my bank account like this is cool, but I want to funnel it right back into a second print run. So how do I do that? So with the second print run, I did it in three payments. The first payment was I reinvested all the money I made from the first print run back into it. The second payment was getting retailers to pre order wholesale. So they were all pre ordering, I love them all so dearly. Because they've been so supportive, they saw how it flew off the shelves, they knew it would sell again. So I got a ton of pre order wholesale accounts. So that was my second payment. And then the third payment was actually a loan, a business loan. So I hobbled together those three piles of money to invest in a second print run. And then, with the sales of the second print run, I was able to buy outright, a third print run. So I'm still paying off the loan from the second. But I'm like, technically in the green and black or whatever, the good stuff. Money. Not in the red. Um, and yeah, so I was able to buy that outright. So now I'm just paying like, you know, a monthly loan for probably another year, just because I want to have the cash flow. So
Kathleen Shannon 51:06
yeah, Emily, are you thinking about systems at all? Like in my mind, I mean, it's not a full time job with distribution.
Emily Thompson 51:13
And do you have boxes in your garage? is really maybe or like, are they in your bathroom? And toilet paper?
Kendra Aronson 51:22
No, I have a storage unit. So I just keep them all there. And it's local in town. So again, since it's such a local product, I To this day, like I'm the one who does everything. So yeah, I do do all the wholesale and the distribution, if there's an online order, I'm fulfilling it. And all the deliveries are local. Or if I'm not feeling like driving, you know, 30 minutes out of my way, I'll just drop it off at the post office. So it's it. It's always been a part time side hustle. And it continues to be a part time side hustle, but now it's actually making money, which is great. So, yeah.
Emily Thompson 52:04
So do you see yourself working at this for a couple more print runs? Or do you see yourself like doing the second cookbook like? Or is it just like sell out the third and then see what happens? Like what are your goals moving forward?
Kendra Aronson 52:16
Yeah, so I, I'm almost sold through my second print run. But by the way, the second print run was 6000 copies. And the third print run was 6000. copies. So like total today have sold over, like almost 8000, because I've almost sold through the second print run. And obviously a book, you know, there's a huge spike of sales during pre order and like, right when it comes out, and then it kind of slowly drips? or What am I saying? Like? drops? drops? Yeah, not drips? Thank you. Yeah, and what's what's nice about this book is it is an evergreen book in the sense that there's always something new each season with seasonal cooking. And it's it really represents this town, and we're a university town, so there's always a new crop of people coming in every year and and we also live on the Central Coast and it's beautiful, and I'm stocked in tons of wineries. So I'm getting the tourism traffic and so it's, it's something that's going to continue to always sell well. It did have like its peak moment for sure with the local community. But in terms of all my wholesale accounts, like they're still selling really strongly. So I don't know when I will sell out of the third print run. I'm I'm now at a point where I no longer need to rely on wholesalers to pre order like now i i make enough money off the print runs now where I can just reinvest and reinvest in future print runs.
Kathleen Shannon 54:03
So it's just kind of mostly sustaining itself, are you actually making some pretty good money off of this?
Kendra Aronson 54:10
I'm making good money off of it now. And it's it's sustainable in the sense that it's kind of quote, passive income because I you know, I did all the work, and now I'm reaping the reward from that. And I you know, if I love when you say I was just telling my husband about this, you're like, what can I do right now to make $100 I'm like, great, I'll just call up all my retailers and get a ton of orders, make deliveries and boom, I'm like, making money. And yeah, so if anything, I'm slowing down on the events that I'm doing around town because I'm now starting to focus my energy into cookbook number two, which is completely different subject matter and a secret. I can't actually tell you training wheels. Do
Kathleen Shannon 55:01
you have training wheels for cookbook? Number two? Or do you feel like this cookbook? Number one was cookbook?
Emily Thompson 55:06
Number one? Yeah,
Kendra Aronson 55:07
definitely training wheels for cookbook number two. Yeah.
Kathleen Shannon 55:11
Oh, I had a question. Yeah. Hi. We're self publishing. I feel like every edition would be changing. Or so have you? Did you do many revisions between print? Right? Yes,
Kendra Aronson 55:23
yes. So, um, the first and second print run, were completely the same. The third print run has a new cover. But it's the same inner content. And also, what's nice about this book, which I knew going into it is that like, this content really resonates really well with the local community. And like I said, the Cal Poly college kids in the tourism, I can make updated versions. So like maybe 10 years from now I'm going to update all the recipes and do There's also 40 short stories in the back on local farmers and chefs in slow County. And so those were all my contributors. And like I can totally, it's the same idea, but just fresh, new content, and that's going to resell itself, because it's like, oh, it's fresh and new. So that's really nice of like, I feel like there's always going to be a demand for it. So it's fun that I'll get to like still that every time.
Emily Thompson 56:24
I love that. Oh, Kathleen, I wanna run a cookbook. Now.
Kathleen Shannon 56:29
I have designed a cookbook, and it was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. I can't imagine doing all the writing photography design, recipe testing. I mean, I can't even handle it when people send me a message telling me that I'm using the word whenever the wrong way. Here, but I would only imagine that with recipe testing, or that you know, people would have so many questions. Do you get that a lot? Do you get people having questions like, treating you like their own personal Julia Child?
Kendra Aronson 57:03
I'll get some people who, if anything, they'll they'll ask for content that's not in the book. Like, for example, like, Hey, I saw this vegetable at the market. What do you do with that? But it's nice, because it's like, they come to me because they now see me as an expert in like seasonal cooking, which is great. That's what I want. But and yeah, I have had, are you getting this stuff that's like, well,
Kathleen Shannon 57:29
I'm allergic to it. This is what I look for in authors is that they'll put out a recipe and someone will ask them basically how to make the recipe without any of the ingredients. Right? That kind of stuff. To be snarky or negative, though. I think customer support aspect to having a cookbook specifically would be really hard.
Kendra Aronson 57:51
Totally. Yeah. So I I'll definitely get a lot of people if I'm, you know, selling my cookbook at a farmers market. If I have a booth set up or if I'm at, like a makers market. People approached me in the last Hey, are there you know, are there vegetarian recipes in here? Or they're gluten free recipes? Oh, I have like dairy issues. Do you have like non dairy, whatever. And so I'm able to answer all those questions on the spot. I think that probably comes up more for food bloggers, or just like the internet. So I don't I do share some recipes online. But that's not like this is a cookbook first.
Kathleen Shannon 58:30
Yeah, it's good that your community is like five to 10 years behind.
Unknown Speaker 58:35
You hate mail. Totally.
Kendra Aronson 58:37
They're like just learning now that they had that they asked to eat like gluten free
Kathleen Shannon 58:40
and get ready. 10 years? Yeah. getting emails asking why this whole cookbook isn't gluten free? Totally.
Unknown Speaker 58:49
Yeah. And so yeah, I
Kendra Aronson 58:50
don't really run into that issue. Because, yeah, I don't really have many recipes online. And I do get really great feedback. Like I you know, I'm, I'm a home cook. And I recipe tested all of this. And these recipes were given to me by farmers, and by local chefs. And so I honestly feel like that's a great selling point, because I'm like, I don't have fancy kitchen equipment. I don't have like, culinary, crazy background. I'm just like you like I'm trying to put dinner on the table. And so it's like, if I can cook through this, trust me, you can cook for cook through this. And yeah, a lot of people they come back with great feedback, like, Oh, I made this recipe and now I'm gonna make it every Thanksgiving or every Easter or this is like my go to summer dish. And that was really, really warms my heart.
Emily Thompson 59:40
I love that. I so appreciate you sharing this like cookbook journey with us this idea of just going at a project that you know what it's going to look like, you know, it's going to feel like and be like and you just have to get it out there and just in self publishing Is this a whole world that I'm a little intrigued with and excited about? I love that you did this like yourself, step by step all the way through.
Unknown Speaker 1:00:07
Yeah. Yeah, I
Kendra Aronson 1:00:08
think oftentimes, especially women, I think that they just they think, too hard about things. Like just do the thing. Stop thinking about it, just do it already. Like what? You know, I don't know, it's, um, I've always been like a doer and a maker. Like, if I have an idea, I need to immediately get it out of my brain and do something with it.
Kathleen Shannon 1:00:32
I know. Like, now I'm seeing a sewing machine behind you. Oh, yeah, I'm gonna make pillows of drawers of crafts. I mean, it looks like, once you have your mind set on something, you're just gonna do it. And you're Oh, yeah, yourself.
Kendra Aronson 1:00:46
Yeah. Yeah, I've always, um, I've always. I like whenever I have a vision of something I like to see it through. I think that. Yeah, a lot of people are passionate about things. And it's really easy, in my opinion, to have passion. But it's another thing to have persistence or perseverance. And you're raising your hand.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:13
My job right there.
Emily Thompson 1:01:17
Like this idea that more this idea of having passion, but not being strong enough that you're actually going to do anything about it is like, not passion at all, it's interest.
Kathleen Shannon 1:01:28
You know, I've been thinking a lot lately about the word passion. And if there's even that movie, that's like the Passion of the Christ, right? It's a pretty ominous word, actually. And what it means is that you're willing to put in some sacrifice for this thing that you care about so much. And so even with your love of the town that you're in, you put in some sacrifice three years of traveling and gathering money and gathering the degree that can help you get the job in the place that you want to be. I mean, and I see this a lot as being a mom, like I'm passionate about my kid, and it includes a lot of sacrifice. And the same is true for jobs. And it's not supposed to always feel easy. And it's not supposed to always feel fun. Sometimes it's really hard work. But then seeing that printed copy in your hands is probably pretty Oh, yeah, rewarding. Totally. Totally worth it.
Kendra Aronson 1:02:25
Yeah. Like even with, you know, now I have over 80 retailers. And to get at retailers took a lot of work. And I had to hear about 300 knows from other retailers to get those ad yeses. And I think it's easy for people to look at my retailer list and be like, wow, they just all said yes. And like, let me show you the spreadsheet where 300 people said no. And yeah, it's just all about persistence and putting yourself out there. And you know, like, I pitched myself onto this podcast, and yeah, I just I think that a lot of people, you know, they're passionate and scared. And it's like, just go for it. Like, what's the worst that can happen? Like, I don't know what what could literally be the worst will happen. I would create a cookbook and it would totally flop and then maybe people would forget about it and like three months and move on with their life. Like that's the worst that can happen.
Kathleen Shannon 1:03:26
You have 6000 cookbooks. Give them all your family members could
Emily Thompson 1:03:32
never have a Christmas birthday present ever again.
Unknown Speaker 1:03:36
Unknown Speaker 1:03:39
Emily Thompson 1:03:41
Thank you so much. Can driving? Yes. Is this been like a fun little journey of a passion project? Like
Kathleen Shannon 1:03:46
I know, I feel like how I built this. I would love that
Kendra Aronson 1:03:52
podcast so much. Yeah, that's the best, right? You're like, Oh, these people did not stop. Like they kept on persisting they heard no, a million times. Maybe they didn't get funding, maybe no one believed in their idea. But they were passionate and persistent. And their perseverance paid off. That they're on this podcast.
Kathleen Shannon 1:04:13
All right, let's wrap this up by asking you what makes you feel most boss.
Kendra Aronson 1:04:17
Um, I guess it would be that that my persistence does pay off. That I I'm just so excited to learn. I love teaching myself skills. I love that I get to do this for a living. I love that. You know, people, they find value in my work. They love the cookbook, they they've gifted it like five and six times over to other people and it's just rewarding and it makes me feel like I'm contributing to my community and my community being San Luis Obispo. The Kickstarter community, the maker team Unity, the creative entrepreneur community, just like being a voice and a vessel of like, YouTube can do this. Like just, you know, that's when I feel most boss when I can share my story.
Kathleen Shannon 1:05:13
Oh, you have one more question. Yeah. What advice would you give someone who's at the very beginning of that journey of persistence, like they're at the very beginning, and they don't know if this thing is going to work? So maybe even where you were, whenever you first got that idea for the cookbook? What advice would you give to someone who might be lacking the confidence and not really knowing where this persistence is going to get them or not even knowing if they have the energy to be that persistent? Right? Um,
Unknown Speaker 1:05:44
I don't know, I
Unknown Speaker 1:05:45
Kendra Aronson 1:05:48
I guess it comes back to that. That idea of passion, like if you're really passionate about something like there is no plan B like you cannot fail, you know, like don't even don't even feed that little failure Gremlin because like, Don't give it any attention because you like if you really truly believe in something and are passionate about something and are excited about it. I think that like just focus your energy there and feed the energy there because that's only going to grow,
Emily Thompson 1:06:26
have it. Perfect. So where can people find out more about you and specifically buy your cookbook?
Kendra Aronson 1:06:36
Yeah, so my own website is Kendra aronson.com KNDRA, a r o n s o n calm and then the cookbook is slo s l o farmers market, cookbook
Unknown Speaker 1:06:53
Kendra Aronson 1:06:55
And you can find me on Instagram that Kendra Aronson or search the hashtag slow Farmers Market cookbook.
Kathleen Shannon 1:07:03
This episode of being boss was brought to you by fresh books, cloud accounting, thank you to fresh books for sponsoring us and you guys can try it for free by going to freshbooks comm slash being boss. Thank you for listening to being boss. Find Articles show notes and downloads at WWW dot being boss club.
Emily Thompson 1:07:24
If you're a creative entrepreneur, Freelancer or small business owner who is ready to take your goals to the next level, check out the being boss clubhouse, a two day online retreat followed by a year of community support, monthly masterclasses book club secret episodes and optional in person retreats. Find more at www dot being boss dot club flash clubhouse.
Kathleen Shannon 1:07:48
Thank you so much to our team and sponsors who make being boss possible our sound engineer and web developer Corey winter. Our editorial director and content manager Caitlin brain, our community manager and social media director Sharon lukey. And are being countered David Austin, with support from braid creative and indie shop biography,
Emily Thompson 1:08:06
do the work, the boss and we'll see you next week.