Series: My Journey Raising Money from Friends and Family

Series: My Journey Raising Money from Friends and Family

My Journey Raising Money from Friends and Family

I had a conversation with a fellow food business founder this past
Sunday. Lyndsay encouraged me to write a series of posts about
my journey around raising money from friends and families. I had
never thought about doing something like this, but Lyndsay thought
it would be helpful to give supporters of The Garden of Eva some
insight into a part of my founder’s journey. I have three posts that
will appear in this section of the website over the next week or so
that share different aspects of this journey, all involving the
generous community that I’m blessed to have.

We know that small businesses take a lot of money to run and it
has been my joy and privilege to put my own financial resources
into The Garden of Eva. But as opportunities to develop products
and list in stores arise, money is required. You may be used to
reading stories about tech founders, for example, raising millions of
pounds from venture capitalists. That is certainly not where The Garden of Eva

is - not by a long shot. It has been friends and family who have supported the development of the business to this stage.

This first post honours my very first supporter.

Post #1: From Kitchen Conversations to Planting Seeds: A Tribute
to Mary Ann Thompson

The vision for The Garden of Eva was born in 2012 when I was
sitting in the parking lot of the pan-Asian supermarket in Dorchester,
Massachusetts, where my son (Brooks was 7 back then) and I lived
at the time. I needed to buy unwaxed lemons to make preserved
lemons for a Moroccan tagine that I was obsessed with making.
Back then, I was unable to find ready-made preserved lemons, so I
decided to make them myself. As I sat there waiting for the
supermarket to open, memories of pickling and preserving with my
Virginia-born mother, father, and sister collided with memories of
travel to the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America and the
wonderful food cultures that I had experienced. That was the seed
for what became The Garden of Eva.

I told family and friends about the vision. Of course I also told my
former roommate and close friend, Aimee Thompson. Aimee had
experienced success as a social entrepreneur, building what became

Close to Home, a brilliant community-based organisation that supports survivors of domestic violence.

I also told Mary Ann, Aimee's mother. She and Aimee's father,
Dave, came to Boston from time to time to visit and I always saw
them when they did. Aimee, Mary Ann, and I were in my kitchen
talking one day and I was sharing my progress with making
samples. I saw Mary Ann take out her chequebook. She wrote a
cheque to me for USD$100 to help support the development of the
business. In those very early days, I didn't even have a business account!

I remember being shocked. Tears of gratitude stung my eyes. I was so grateful for her belief in me.

It never occurred to me back then that anyone would write a cheque
to support my vision. I was sharing it with her because I was
excited. I wasn't hinting or asking for a contribution at all. I was a
long way from thinking about inventory, manufacturers, branding, or
renting kitchen space. I was just excited to make samples and think
about what the next step might be. But Mary Ann wanted to help
and saw something that maybe I couldn't see back then. With her
USD$100, she became the first financial supporter of The Garden
of Eva! Objectively speaking USD$100 is not a lot of money, but to
me it may as well have been US$1 million in terms of the impact it
had on me.

Mary Ann Thompson didn’t just write a cheque; she sowed a seed of
belief that was powerful. I felt encouraged, buoyed, and strong. I
had no idea that others would be willing to come alongside me with
help when I needed it. I'll get to that part of the story in a future
post. For now, I want to celebrate Mary Ann. Unfortunately she died
in 2018, but I'll never forget her encouragement and belief in my

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