adventure, black business, business, dreambig, ecuador, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, esl, esl teaching, expats, expats in Ecuador, female business, female business owners, imbabura, new business, small business, tea, tea house, teaching abroad
I used to want for people to think “I’m nice.” I spent a lot of years not being me because I didn’t want people not to like me. I was angry with myself; thus, I was angry with others. But now, I realize I am what I am, I be who I be, I do what I do, I think what I say, and I live how I want.
I do me.
In this acceptance of self, I also accept and embrace my “Mama California” and my “Global English Made Simple (GEMS)” ideas. And I’m not willing to compromise a lot about my visions. But what exactly are my business visions? What service am I trying to contribute to society to make it better?
Talking with Ecuadorian teachers about my prices for English language services made me really think about who I was creating my business for. One teacher said my writing prices were too high. (i.e., Personal essay = $50) But as a writer, I’m highly sensitive about my writing, and I truly believe this here writing thing is my talent and I have been honing it since Spring 1999 when I realized, as a Bruin sophomore, I wanted to be a writer. I mean, I’ve worked really hard to get my concise writing, grammar, and teaching of writing skills down. Thus, I can’t give it away for free simply because I’m in a small town in Los Andes. (Hell no,when the Internet is connecting me to all of Ecuador.)
And more over, people are paying my fees already and I haven’t even properly launched my GEMS business. People come off the street and pay my editing prices ($15 basic edit); and, let me tell you, they all know their writing pieces sound much better after a visit to Mama California. Writing ain’t easy, and concise writing —look ahere, look ahere, look ahere– is hard as a rock for many, especially when English is not one’s first language.
But what really made me stick with my prices was what a former teaching colleague kept asking, “Who will ask for your help?” So I had to ask self, Who is my client and who do I want my client to be? In answering those questions, I had to reflect on the English students I have taught in the USA, Central America, South America, and Eastern Asia. The students I really want to help are the people who are self-motivated to go beyond their homeland boundaries — mentally and physically– to play with the big dogs in the global arena. They are the people who realize “good enough” is not “good enough” when others are crafting their art, honing their skills, getting the extra help, and over-delivering their services. I want to work with the people who appreciate my standard of work ethics and living. My bro said my problem is that I don’t like working with C-level people; I really only want to work with A-level people and I get angry when people don’t bring their A-game. This is true; this is who I am. Thus, I need to work with other people who believe that and are willing to pay for the quality of help that will get them impacting the world.
And let’s keep it 100. I’m more than just a native speaker; I got a resume. I did go to decent unis. I have taught for more than 10 years in 6 countries. I have present at international conferences and will present at several more this year. I have published articles. I have led teacher training classes.
And I practice what I preach. I got my hair cut today — lord, did it take a long time to organize my hair event; just a trim of the afro. My hairstylist said it was only $5 because she works from her home now. But I knew that wasn’t right. She did a good job and I was leaving happy. I paid her $10 because that is what she deserved at home or in the salon. I could only think, “Know your worth, girl.”
I know my worth and my worth is $50 for a personal essay in Ecuador (probably $100-$200 in the USA/Asia). What other Ecuadorians have told me is that in the big cities– Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil– they will pay the money because they know the value of good English. So why wouldn’t Ibarrenos know it? In fact, they do know it. People regularly come for tea and cupcakes at Mama California. Once people try my products and understand I am not lowering my prices, they pay it; “they” being the ones who want my Cali flavor, the ones who want to do something non-Ecuadorian, the ones who want to know what life is like outside Los Andes. And as they say, “I’ll take you there.”
GEMS– Dropping gems on the world! And we all know gems aren’t cheap.