Thursday, March 3, 2011

Starbucks baby

Starting your own business does not pay the bills.  In fact, it does the opposite.  Luckily I don't have too many start-up costs, but obviously I'm still working as a full-time nanny.  I get to work every morning at 7.  I don't mind the early time mostly because I'm so used to it and when the weather is warm I ride my bike up the Hudson River and the view is spectacular.  After the morning waltz of dressing, eating, cleaning, playing, packing lunches, bathroom breaks, and more cleaning, the girls and I put on our coats and hats and gloves and scarves and we walk to school.  By 9AM both girls are in their respective classes and until 12 (when I pick up the 3 year old from preschool) I am free to do as I please.
Before starting Sarah Poppins I spent much of this time at the gym running on the treadmill because I was too self conscious of my lanky, duck-like movements to run outside.  The gym was great for my health but not so much for my physique (because let's face it I'm a solid 124 lbs not matter what I do) or for my nagging feeling of personal dissatisfaction.
Since Sarah Poppins I have spent many of these three hour breaks at the Starbucks on 87th st.  I'm not really a Starbucks kinda girl ($4.50 for a chai latte?!) but the library doesn't open until 10 and nowhere else has free wi-fi.  I don't count the creepy Indian buffet on Amsterdam.
So for close to 3 hours I sit at a round table built for two with my laptop on and my notebook out.  Most of Sarah Poppins began in a regular composition notebook in the form of lists.

  • Lists of questions
    • What do I have to offer?
    • Do I need a license??
    • What would I charge?
  • Lists of potential tours
    • Statue of Liberty
    • Times Square
    • Public transportation
  • And grocery lists
    • A girl's gotta eat!!

The list of potential tours was super easy to bang out, I had been frolicking around the city for years , after all.  My notebook started to look like a disjointed Frommer's guide for kids.  But the list of questions was much harder.  The tricky thing about Sarah Poppins is that it deals with children.  The tricky thing about children is that they are gigantic liabilities.  I may not be business savvy, but it doesn't take a genius to know that you just can't take a kid out and around NYC without some sort of license or some sort of paper that says I'm not a psycho child snatcher.  Right?
So, while sipping my freakin almost $5 latte (I can't stand Starbucks coffee, what else am I supposed to do?), I turned to the motherlode of useful and useless information: Google.  This is when things began to get tricky.  Like I said before, Sarah Poppins is a new idea, nothing like it has been done before.  Sarah Poppins isn't a nanny service because I wouldn't be spending enough time in a "controlled environment" and it isn't a daycare because I wouldn't take more than 4 children at a time (which you need a license to do).  Turns out I'm an Independent Contractor.  Well that sounds just as fancy as a gingerbread latte.
Here's the original sketch
from my notebook
In between chipping away at my mountain of questions, I began to think of my logo.  I shouldn't say think because the image came right away.  I, personally, think it's perfect.  It shows me with my crazy wavy hair wearing a silly hat with NYC buildings stuck in the hat wear there would be feather, or macaroni if your name is Yankee Doodle.  I sent this image to Justin and he came back with this:
Justin's digital Sarah Poppins
The cartoon version of Sarah Poppins really did wonders for my confidence.  Having a solid (and literal) face to my "brand" really made me start to believe that this was real.  
Sarah Poppins was beginning to really move along.  I ordered business cards and Justin set up my website.  I started to make friends at Starbucks.  There's one old man who comes in everyday with a cowboy fringe jacket and he reads mystery novels.  I bring him cashews because they are his favorite.  
And now, on the days I don't go to Starbucks, I run outside!  Now I let my lanky duck run hang out, running from the Upper West Side to the East Village roughly three times a week.  I even ran a half marathon.  
But I'm nowhere near done. I still have many lists to write, many questions to answer, and many $4.50 lattes to complain about.  I don't know what I'd do without these 3 hour breaks.  


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