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 and how to sell, but more importantly, it helped build my confidence. It was a great experience, but I was ready to move on.
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 100% in everything you do, people notice and value it." I decided to start a company and found a niche in the cleaning industry which catered towards AirBnB owners who were 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 the most efficient ways to clean the houses. We 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 enjoy 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 without 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, experimented, and became obsessed with perfecting my fresh pasta - and all of it using recipes with the highest quality ingredients I could find including the 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 clients' diverse dietary preferences. Her egg-based and vegan pastas are made with 100% whole grain semolina flour (high in protein and B vitamins). For her gluten-free pasta she uses garbanzo flour, made from chickpeas, which has the added benefit of being low carb and high protein. All her ingredients are as fresh and organic as possible and she strives to source all her ingredients from other local small businesses.
She is currently promoting and selling her products at the Vero Beach Farmers Market as well as the Downtown Fort Pierce and Village Shops farmers markets. You can order ahead of time on her website, gardenofestherpasta.com, and pick up at any of these farmer’s markets every weekend during the season. In addition, you can look for her products in local stores such as Sealantro on 6th Avenue, Rhonda's Fresh Seafood Market, Carmine & Lucia's, and deLITEful Kitchen. You can also find it on the menu at area restaurants such as Vincent's Vero, Citron Bistro, Watermark Grille, Cobalt, Spritz City Bistro, Fire and Wine, Counter Culture, DiMare, and Prima Pizza and Pasta. Garden of Esther is also active on both Facebook and Instagram, engaging with visitors by sharing their recipes, highlighting other local vendors, and spotlighting the Treasure Coast community.
Support of her Treasure Coast community is another driving force behind all of Garden of Esther’s decisions. In addition to sourcing ingredients from are vendors, Esther also volunteers around town at events like the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot and the annual Salvation Army bell-ringing. She frequently donates pasta to IRC schools, the Human Nature Foundation, and the Hope for Families Top Chef Challenge. “Every decision, business or personal, no matter how small, can be made in a way that also benefits our community.”
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 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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