Christine Taylor Garner, TaylorMade Meals, Sudbury, MA
Finding My Path
After spending more than 10 years in technology – building websites and software products, and managing clients - Christine Taylor Garner needed a change. The higher she went “up the ladder” the less fulfilled and interested she was in what she was doing. Christine started reading and thinking about entrepreneurship. She realized the path she was on was not for her and came to the realization that she alone could change that.
Christine decided she didn’t want to waste any more time in a career that no longer inspired her and was willing to accept the uncertainty and loss of guaranteed income for a time in order to pursue one that did.
Making a Change
In her 20s, Christine started cooking for fun and relaxation. It wasn’t something she had grown up doing but once she tried it she found it made her happy. “I read about the idea of being my own boss as a personal chef,” said Garner, “and loved the idea of combining something I loved doing with the autonomy of working for myself – and making a living!”
Christine took her first steps by taking an online accounting course and completing the Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) Business Planning workshop while working full time. “CWE gave me the confidence I needed to believe I could really support myself by working FOR myself. By offering a structured environment with the resources and support to develop my business plan, and also by just being a place filled with women accomplishing their goals – it was exactly what I needed.” said Christine, “I don’t know of any other place quite like it.”
She launched her business in 2004, using her technological experience to develop a website and created a brochure for her business. Christine eased into her venture and offered her services on a part-time basis. Her first customers found her through her website and she fit their requests in around her regular work schedule. She could have kept going part-time but when she moved to a new area she began getting more and more requests. Christine decided it was time to take a chance to see if she could make this a full-time business. She decided to give herself 2 years to make a go of it. Lucky for her she met her goals and her business continues to be as busy as she wants it to be today.
Originally Christine thought she would pursue a number of lines of business through TaylorMade Meals – catering, cooking classes, and growing to include employees, etc. While she did some of those things Christine came to realize that she didn’t have to stick to her original plans. She found she enjoyed the core part of her business so much more: preparing meals for busy families, with just an assistant or two helping her. “Every day is different; every family is different. It’s why I still love it all these years later,” share Christine.
“I felt for several years that I “should” be catering or teaching classes, but eventually I looked around and realized no one besides me was in charge, and that I could call the shots and make myself happy. I adjusted my goals – fewer parties, more weekday clients - and once again, was able to meet them. I had my daughter 5 years after I started my business, and I am so glad that I have been able to fit everything in that’s important to me. I work enough to generate the income I need, and still have time to spend with her.”
To Other Women Who Would Want to Start a Business I Would Say…
Do it, do it, do it! Even if it doesn’t work out the first time, or the second or the 5th, try again if you know it’s your true passion to work for yourself or run your own business. Never stop learning, whether reading on your own, attending workshops, or surrounding yourself with other people who share your drive and commitment. If they aren’t in your circle now, seek them out via networking, Meetups, or online forums. There are no points rewarded to you for living someone else’s idea of a good and fulfilling life, and only you are in charge of you. Determine what your priorities are, and go after them. If you make a little progress every day or week or month in pursuit of your goals – a clarifying thought, a jotted-down idea, a new connection - you’ll feel ALIVE instead of just living.