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  • Writer's pictureRachel Glaza

Evolution: stories of growth

The week's theme for amalgam is evolution. And not in the biological sense, but more in the edge-nudging sense. Growth.

evolution (n): the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form

When I started amalgam just four weeks ago I wasn't sure where it was headed. I knew I loved to bake and I loved all things design. I was still unemployed (more on that below), needing some income, and looking for something challenging and fulfilling that brought out the best in me. It also happened to be a great way for me to practice what I've been working on for awhile now: repairing the relationship I have with myself. So I dove into the (relative) unknown and posted on social that I was starting something.

Below are three vignettes on the evolution of this business over the past month:

Evolution Story #1: Orders

It was a good move to start this baking/design gig on Valentine's Day because people are apt to order

sweet treats for their sweet treat. Nice. Built-in excuse to drum up initial interest. Each week after V-Day though, when Saturday rolled around and I was planning menus and creating graphics and scheduling shit on social, the voice of worry would appear and so helpfully ask: what if no one buys anything this week?

Each week, I've surprised both myself and that particular voice because I've had orders.

Each week, there have been new customers and returning customers.

Each week, I've had incredibly positive feedback about the design and flavors.

I'm sure there will be weeks when no one will buy. But for now, seeing this slow and steady growth has been been important to witness as I continue to work through all of the self-doubt and voice of worry that hangs with me like a roommate you've been living with for years because you haven't figured out how to tell them that you don't want to live together anymore because it's no longer college and they're harshing your vibe. You feel me?

When I first announced I was going to do this, a fellow cookie maker who I love and have purchased from/followed for a couple of years now (Vicki Cookies- she's the absolute best), reached out with words of encouragement. It was amazing. She then shared my account and I got more followers. WHAT?!

Because of her sharing, I have my first custom order to fulfill this week and another initial inquiry for later this year.

Evolution #2: Brand

That initial custom order discussion jump started the next evolution of amalgam: the brand.

This request required me to get my shit together and create assets, proposals, and accompanying processes to grow this side of business. I plugged away at these things, and as I was working I realized the initial logo concept and brand colors were close to what I envisioned, but not quite... me? So I also worked on a logo and brand color redesign. Yes, within the first four weeks of launching this biz. This is the exciting stuff for me, folks: I truly do love design in all forms, whether it's interior or exterior spaces, clothing, graphic design, product design, logos, you name it, I appreciate it. And we're all a work in progress, so I see this redesign as a shift in alignment with what I want this brand to be and how I communicate that to the world.

For this logo, I wanted to design for now - honoring the energy building the bakery side of amalgam- and later - honoring the future design work- with some flexibility in how its used. Nothing really captured that complexity, so I leaned into creating three logos for amalgam. You heard me, three:

  • The flagship logo, which will be used when talking holistically about my business.

  • The baking logo, which will be used on all bakery-related assets; and

  • The design logo, which will be used on all design-related assets

The initial design was a great foundation on which to build this new direction, which is a little more polished, a little less trendy, and decidedly more me.

Evolution #3: Job

I mentioned above that I started this business while unemployed. I stepped away from my job November 2021 for a number of reasons, the most important of which being alignment: I wanted my work to align with my values, ethics, and the value I bring as a professional to my work, teams, and organizations. I have a tendency to underestimate my contributions, to second guess my work, to strive for perfection and feel like a failure when I don't get there. What this has looked like professionally is me not applying to exciting and growth-oriented positions, and instead applying for and accepting positions that I know I'd be good at but don't necessarily challenge me and don't offer much growth potential. I have also rarely negotiated salary out of fear of not getting a position.

If I was going to evolve professionally, I knew I needed to take action in alignment with where I wanted to go, not where I've been. So immediately after leaving I was offered a position that paid pretty well, but did not challenge me. While enticing- familiarity is comforting, right? - I ultimately declined. One step in the direction of seeking alignment. About a month ago I declined another position due to salary (I negotiated and they couldn't meet my needs). Another minor growth moment.

Last week I got an email requesting a final interview for a position I had initially interviewed for back in October but for which recruitment stalled. I interviewed. It clicked. It was a growth-oriented discussion in a most unexpected and surprising way. I showed up as me, asked the questions I wanted to ask, and didn't downplay my skills or experiences. And then I accepted that job. While I didn't negotiate salary, I didn't have to- the salary was matched to the value I bring to this work and beyond my expectations.

Final Thoughts

Now that you've read my novelette (hey, thanks!), I'll wrap with these final thoughts:

Healing my relationship with myself, stepping into my power, and shedding one-protective-but-now-harmful habit energy has been core to these past few months of not working, then working to build amalgam, and now working professionally alongside this venture. I am content with my growth and progress, as slow and fast and painful and joyous as it is and has been and will be.

A very wise friend of mine told me recently:

You can hold being naive and grounded in your inner wisdom at the same time. Paradox of life.

So I'm holding growth and belief. Repairing and building. Keeping what serves me, and letting go of what doesn't.

And making some beauty in the meantime.

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