Imagine moving to a foreign country to attend university and graduating without a job lined up. Then imagine selling most of your possessions and moving 700 miles away, in search of new opportunities, to one of the world's busiest and, to some, most intimidating cities. To Esther Chin, founder of Garden of Esther, this "go big or go home" journey was not one that elicited feelings of angst or doubt. For the self-described risk-taker and "lifehacker", it was a journey that unequivocally shaped her future and produced an entrepreneur fueled by confidence, optimism, and determination.
"When I moved from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to New York City, I was confident I would find a good job," Chin said. "Unfortunately, finding a good job turned out to be much harder than expected. I ended up taking a commission-only door to door sales position, but I was determined to make it a character building opportunity. After two years in that position, I learned how to talk to people, how to sell and, most importantly, it helped build my confidence. It was a great experience, but I was ready to move on to a new opportunity. While looking for something new, I started cleaning houses and helping people run errands. This side job that was supposed to be a part-time gig grew and the number of my customers increased through referrals. I truly believe that when you care about other people and give it 100% in everything you do, people notice and value it.
"I decided to start a company. I found a niche in the cleaning industry which catered towards AirBnB owners who are too busy to handle their own listings. I had a partner at that time and in 2013, we launched Lovly Host. We figured out the best way to coordinate guests arrivals and most efficient ways to clean the houses, hired employees and built a thriving business."
In June of 2017, Chin decided she was ready for a new adventure. She sold her equity in the business to her partner and moved to Vero Beach, FL. As soon as Chin moved to Florida, she started thinking about ideas for a new business. She surveyed her surroundings and what she had at her disposal and realized she was literally sitting on a golden opportunity.
"I had land," she said. "I had an area to start a garden. You don't have that kind of space in New York City. I started to grow some herbs and plants and quickly realized that not only did I enjoyed gardening, I also had a green thumb. I am a big proponent of organic growing and healthy eating. Without exception, all the herbs and vegetables I grow are cultivated chemical free and no pesticides. Eventually, I started packaging my herbs and hot peppers to sell them on Etsy. That's really how Garden Of Esther started. Over time I began looking at different things to do with the herbs and how to incorporate the plants I was growing. Then I started to think about my love of food and passion for cooking. Growing up in Malaysia, my dad always loved his noodles. I thought, 'maybe I can make noodles that are infused with my herbs'. I tried different things, did plenty of research, and switched my focus from noodles to pasta. I experimented and became obsessed with perfecting my fresh pasta recipes with the highest quality ingredients I could find including organically grown herbs and vegetables right from my garden."
Chin makes her fresh handcrafted pasta from scratch weekly with all natural ingredients, in small batches to ensure the freshest and highest-quality tasting product. She makes egg-based, vegan and gluten-free pasta to accommodate her client's diverse dietary restrictions. She uses flour imported from Italy and everything else is as fresh, local and organic as possible.
She is currently promoting and selling her products at the Vero Beach Farmers Market and through her Facebook page, but will soon give customers the ability to order directly through her website. Looking ahead, she's also focused on making her products available in more farmers markets, local stores and restaurants.
What advice does Chin have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Life is too short to wake up with regrets, live your dream and wear your passion," she said. "Action is the foundational key to all success and whatever you do, do it from the heart. Live your life fearlessly, step out of your comfort zone and take risks. If you win, you will be happy, if you lose, you will be wise. In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take and the decisions we waited too long to make."
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