When I made my first sale over a week ago, I was elated. I had this vision of myself surrounded by ingredients, Katy Perry (don't judge) blasting on the iPhone, and flour dust coming off of the counter in big, billowy clouds. I imagined orders coming in, me barely being able to fill them all. I imagined a lot of things. One thing I am trying to learn how to be is a perfect mix of optimistic and realistic. This has never been one of my strong suits, I am almost always overly optimistic and far from realistic when I get my heart set on something, which can be good or bad, depending on the situation. I hope it turns out to be good in this case.
I have been waiting for a shipment of a key ingredient for over two weeks. My Taobao ordering skills have improved, but I am still a novice. I use Taobao by navigating through it using the translate function on Google Chrome, and it works quite well, but it's not perfect. For example, items are referred to as "baby", as in "search for baby" or "I am concerned about the baby". Apparently I ordered a "baby" that is now stuck in customs as it was shipped from the U.S.
It's funny. In Shanghai so many things move at neck-breaking speed. Millions of people are hustling in every direction, entire businesses appear out of thin air, seemingly overnight. It takes about 15 minutes to get married (I know, I did it), and one second to almost get run over by a taxi (or a motor bike, or a bus, or an old lady at the market). When I began selling Serenity Seitan, I thought it would be the same way. I thought I would debut the product and be covered in seitan dough for the next week. Then reality hit. As much as this city teaches us how to move quickly, it also teaches it to be patient. In my experience, it almost always works out in the end.
I have my kitchen utensils ready, the labels are set, and the packaging ready to be cut. Thinking good thoughts, and hoping for the best, but expecting...reality.
I love to feed people. There is nothing in the world like hearing the "Mmmmmm" that comes from someone eating something I made. I love seitan because it appeals to all types of eaters (except for those with gluten intolerance-sorry!), carnivores and omnivores. I wanted to show people that there is something that can taste delicious and satisfy your appetite that does not come from an animal.
About one month ago I seriously started considering taking my seitan creations from my kitchen to the market, but I did not have a clue how. In the news there were countless stories of unsafe meat. I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce Serenity Seitan to the good people of Shanghai. I talked to my friend, owner of Goji Girl Leslie McMillin, and asked her for advice. I gave samples to teachers and students at my school, and shared my ideas with my friends. Before I knew it, my friend and graphic designer Alicia Wei was making stickers and business cards, and helping me to navigate Taobao. We met on a Monday and Serenity Seitan was at Jiashan Farmer's Market by Saturday.
It was a horrible week. I was scrambling to keep up with everything: making a website, perfecting the recipe, ordering on Taobao, teaching, planning a Battle of the Bands for charity. Throughout the week, little disasters cropped up: losing a temporary crown, breaking my key off in my door, ayi throwing away Taobao packages because it looked like garbage. You know the saying, when it rains...Let's just say I felt like I was in the middle of a hurricane at certain times during that week.
I didn't give up. I just kept imagining how good it would feel to show people how delicious vegan could be. That is what got me through. On Saturday, the bad luck continued. It was about 13 degrees, rainy, and windy. I put a smile on my face and thought good thoughts as my husband and I made our way to the Jiashan Market (an outdoor market, of course). My hopes for selling out that day were not incredibly high, but I was excited nonetheless. I still smiled as we drove past colored umbrellas and ponchos.
A miracle happened that day. I sold 21 packages, and traded the last one with the lovely Cinna Swirl booth. I was elated, and thought, 'This could really work!'
This week has already been full of more surprises. Taobao orders have been delayed, the electric heating bag I bought is the size of a cat, and my energy is starting to dwindle. Whenever I want to give up, I just think of that little train who thought positively, and in the end, reached his goal. 'I think I can, I think I can.'
Hi! I'm Lindsey, the owner of Serentiy Seitan. I love feeding people healthy and can't-believe-how-delicious-this-is food. I work and live in Shanghai with my husband and our three pets.