be kind.

I’ve been struggling a little bit between two concepts I hold dear to me.

#1 is that I am a girl who goes 0 or 100. I am a fiercely loyal person so when it comes to my friends, it’s “ride or die”. This means I often go 100% for my partner or friends which often bites me in the butt when people will gladly take from you but be gone when you need them the most. So I’ve been slowly letting the people who drain me out of my life and focussing my attention on people who aren’t just fair-weathered friends. As I’ve said before, everybody wants to ride the limo with you, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.

But then #2 is to ‘be kind’. But because of concept #1, I sometimes find myself being too closed off; not wanting to accommodate people in my busy life for fear of wasting precious time & thought on someone who will suck me dry. Perhaps I was taking Concept #1 too far after being burnt too many times.

It’s always hard to find that balance but I have realised that #2 is much more important…even if it means risking the third degree.

Admittedly, I’ve been very self-absorbed this year. I guess I’ve been blindsided a few times…and then unable to see past my own problems. Problem is, everything was mostly out of my control. With so many unknowns, both my personal and professional life were tipping in an awkward balance & I didn’t know how to function in a limbo state. My usual mentality of ‘Just Do It’ doesn’t apply when you’re waiting for others to get back to you. Waiting, waiting, waiting for something to happen. I hate waiting. And as much as I wish I could write that I was incredibly diligent and positive and happy to be patient, I wasn’t. I was a mess. I once stayed in bed for an entire day with 2 wheels of cheese and the accompanying crackers, watching 2 Seasons of F.R.I.E.N.D.S back to back because I just didn’t want to deal (ever felt that way before?). I had no motivation. I was lost. Everybody kept asking me what was happening or what I was doing. and I wanted to cry and say that I didn’t know the answers anymore; my shoulders so heavy with the pressure of expectation. Not wanting to let our fans down, not wanting to let my staff down, not wanting to let my family and friends down…not wanting to let myself down.

I was criticised on facebook by a guy called “Elvin” saying “Why should we support a business when the owner is seen shopping at Topshop?”. He said “You should save your money for your business instead of spending it on the latest fashions”. Firstly, I was living on $5 a day at that period of time so I definitely wasn’t shopping. The only reason I was at Topshop was because we baked cookies for their opening day which I was delivering so shame on your skiddy undies. Secondly, hang on, if you saw me at Topshop, then that means you were at Topshop too “shopping for the latest fashions”? Call the zoo guys, ’cause we got here a Hippo-crite! And thirdly, even if I was at Topshop buying clothes (which I wasn’t) then why would that matter anyway? Because I own a cookie shop, I’m not allowed to shop at all now because I have turned into a Cookie Nun under strict rules of poverty, chastity & obedience? Oh yeah, I’m expected to put in 80 hours work, pay myself nothing, never shop, never go out and never live a life outside of the shop. Everybody! Come into the Cookie Sisterhood because those sound like such exciting incentives! And finally, I have no idea who you are but clearly you know exactly who I am, what I look like and what I do so really, all I have to say is,

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Hahaha only kidding.

I was also criticised on Facebook by a lady saying she felt I had deceived her — as if I had duped everyone into pledging money towards the bus when we weren’t actually moving on and saying I wasn’t being transparent enough. I responded the very honest response below:

“The bus isn’t close to finishing at the moment and if we close [our Wellesley St store], all 13 of us will lose our jobs and livelihoods. We are hanging on and building the bus as we speak but building businesses is not cheap and it doesn’t happen overnight. Everything is outside of our control and while we wait for paperwork to come through to let us know more about our final days, we will just keep on fighting for our existence. Paperwork, legal issues and building businesses is a very long process. Just be patient with us and eventually the answers will come. Everyday all I can do is keep building and keep working hard and that’s all that is within my control.”

I felt like I should be ashamed that I wasn’t moving fast enough. That even though our team must’ve spent over 100 hours in the last couple weeks slaving away getting rid of rust and replacing the bodywork of the bus (don’t worry, this old thing is being spruced up so well, she’ll run for another 100 years, no problem) that it still wasn’t good enough. I have been as transparent as possible — not once have I shied away from any questions regarding the bus or refused to disclose details. I’ve written a rough month by month progress report in my latest blog. And I know I could write a heck of a lot more, but we are spending so much time actually building the bus, that sometimes I find it hard to find the time to write about building the bus. I will endeavour to write more from now on. But for the record, here is the latest update:

The bus is looking really good albeit a lot slower than we had expected (well ain’t that the story of my life). We are doing a very meticulous build so that the ground work of the actual bus lays a solid foundation for the future. We want to do this right and not do a rushed job which will give us problems later down the track. We are incredibly grateful for the amazing pledgers who have put their faith in us and our Milk & Cookie Bus. But we can’t be under any illusion that we are rolling in the dough as these sort of commercial projects are not cheap. We may have fundraised $90k but to put this into perspective, our commercial ice cream machine alone costs about $20k. That’s almost a quarter of our budget & we haven’t even touched the bus yet. Money can solve a lot of problems & speeds things up tenfold. But when you’re working with a budget, you have to be street smart. That means just like the original shop, this bus is mostly a DIY effort. I am forever grateful for my brother, Justin, who has taken this bus project on full-time and is doing as much of it tirelessly by hand. Take for example our wheel-hub guards. The entire thing was rusted so we had to replace it. Instead of buying a new one which would be expensive, Justin & my dad (who is an ex-panelbeater) managed to make one by hand in the house garage. I may not know much about cars but I do know how hard it is to bend steel when you don’t have a steel-folding machine.

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Here is just one of the steel guards they handmade. I was super impressed. Not only because it looks great but because they made it using Kiwi ingenuity…steel shaped using only blocks of wood and a hammer. Everything is not only done DIY but has so much love put into it, that I know the end result will speak volumes. The bus will be unique, much loved and handcrafted.

For the public, it may have been a month-long campaign to #SaveMoustache but for me this has been almost two years in the making. Two years of fighting, building, paperwork, planning and being creative with our limited resources.

We are so close now. Moustache Milk & Cookie Bus will be done by the summer for us Kiwis to enjoy in the sunshine. And trust me, we have some amazing things planned for the new year that I know will spring us into an exciting & completely new era of Moustache. We cannot wait to share with you!

I felt so far removed from the girl I used to be when I started the shop. The girl with so much confidence and exuberance and life. I felt drained and angry & like I wasn’t living up to everybody’s expectations and that if I was to even dare enjoy myself, that I should feel guilty for doing things for myself. I felt so much pressure to lead & inspire, to be something more, to know all the answers. But I was none of those things.

And the pressure made me hate the business, and it made me hate New Zealand and our tall poppy syndrome that wants to tear each other down with its holier-than-thou attitude and it made me hate who I was becoming. Because I was becoming negative. And I was becoming bitter. And I wasn’t De anymore.

But what I started to realise was that all the pressure I felt was a figment of my own imagination. Let people think what they want, as long as you act with integrity and you are staying true to yourself, it doesn’t really matter what others think. It is you who has to live with the consequences, so you better damn well choose what feels right to you and not what anyone else thinks.

I thought back to when I felt most sure of myself. And there would be two moments.

1. the moment i chose to open Moustache and

2. when I was a child and I wrote a bucket list detailing exactly what I wanted to do before I died.

One of those things on my bucket list was to support the All Blacks in a Rugby World Cup. Coincidentally, 2015 happens to be the year of the eighth RWC, so on a whim that exact day, I made the decision that I was going. I scrambled all my personal savings together and bought the plane tickets as well as tickets to a couple All Black’s RWC games. Meanwhile I was thinking of Elvin, “You say I’m not allowed to be in Topshop? Well I’m going to Rugby World Cup, bitch”. And then I dropped the mic and left for the other side of the world.

And I think it saved me.

Heading overseas to Europe made me see that there was a heck of a lot more to life than my fickle problems. Problems that will soon come to pass & in 5 years time I probably won’t even remember. Problems come and go. I had become so self absorbed in my sorry little bubble that I couldn’t see the greater picture. That I was building this mountain of pressure on myself which blocked me from seeing the beauty of the mountain itself.

I feel so much more in tune with myself now than I ever have this entire year. I get it. I get who I am. I get how every day above ground is a blessing. And how it’s ridiculous to waste it worrying about what others think. Or to let problems stop you from smiling. Embrace all the things life throws at you — the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. Keep going. Bad things will always happen; focus on the things you can change and let go of the things you can’t.

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light — Aristotle.

I have been lucky to have found a piece of myself again during my short stint in Europe. It’s almost unfair how lucky we have it in lil ol’ New Zealand. No war, no corruption…we are free men in the land of milk & honey (or in my case, milk & cookies).

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away

What’s most important in life is to be kind, to be true to yourself and to keep giving more and more of yourself away to the world. And of course to be unapologetically you. That’s the best gift you can give the world. Fuck the rest who say that “you” isn’t enough.

You just do you.

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