My name is Melanie. I’m a single , 66 yr old whose business and finances were destroyed by Covid and I’m creating a new life. Follow the journey as I navigate my passions- finding an affordable tiny home community, re-inventing work with my skills as a chocolatier and hunting for part time gigs to supplement my social security. The rest is pretty much gone from trying to keep our business afloat during the Covid pandemic of 2020. Sometimes you just have to let go. Or at least redefine. “Be like the coconut tree” my good friend Steve told me. “ so you can bend with the wind and not break in a storm” Great advice!
So I’m navigating work, finding a place to live, aging, ( hopefully gracefully) new community & friendships, road trip travel with my golden retriever “ Lillie” , health & wellness and rediscovering a joyful life in the space we call “retirement”.
My imminent retirement wasn’t planned, however on New Years Eve after the equipment for a 3000 sf chocolate factory and cafe were safely tucked into 2 storage units, my business partner and I had a few shots of Cazadores tequila to toast the end of an incredibly stressful year. He was off to Hawaii to rest and contemplate life, I just headed home to the little farmhouse I rented in Cerrillos, NM in anticipation of a spa day at Ten Thousand Waves. A good soak in a mountain setting always soothed aching muscles and a tired soul.
Before Covid we had a busy life and employed 5 people. We made chocolate from the raw beans and transformed them into numerous bars, drinking chocolate and truffles. The factory had a cafe serving fresh roasted coffee drinks , chocolate elixirs based on history and desserts. We gave bi weekly factory tours and classes.
Going into 2020 we were optimistic. Sales were increasing, we had thousands of dollars in Spring Break reservations for classes and the Southwest Chocolate Festival was just around the corner. This year we were to unveil new packaging for our chocolate bar line. The shipment of packaging arrived 2 weeks before the Covid shutdown in March. We had to cease all operations but could sell curbside. Only problem was we weren’t a drive through Starbucks. We all know how the months that followed went and that’s not the subject of this blog, just the springboard. So I’ll wrap that up by merely stating the financial fallout was severe , despite gov‘t grants and PPP we just couldn’t sustain our space on a mere fraction of business. We negotiated a end of lease settlement with our landlord, went through a basically on- line Xmas and locked it up 12/31/2020.