Moustache II: Reincarnating the store we shut down

My brother passed on a message to me from John, a good man but one with whom I have a tense relationship with (think Twilight, I am Team Werewolf & he is Team Vampire. We have respect for one another but ultimately have a wall between us) [omg you know the world’s gone to the dogs when you’re using Twilight as a case in point]

The message was, “On a side note, I was talking to the Auckland City Council at a group meeting about enhancing the Aotea area [N.B this is where my old shop used to be] and the name of your shop and its wonderful products were mentioned by various people there…your reputation goes before you

Your reputation goes before you. What meaningful words. It is the things that you cannot buy, such as reputation, respect, love, honour & self-betterment through sheer painstaking moments that give life meaning. I’m not saying I have done enough to earn those things yet, and of course having a economically sustainable business model is important, but those are the core values on which this business should be built upon.

That small message made me feel a pang of nostalgia for that original, albeit crappy, little store. However any sad feelings were quickly overtaken by reflections on how my life has changed since that shop has closed. In fact, it was only a mere 6 months ago when we demolished her in January of this year.

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Since her closure, we have hand-built a cute little Moustache in Auckland University Campus.

Since her closure, we built a milk & cookie bar in a 1978 Bedford bus and road tripped down to Wellington to open the first Moustache outside of Auckland.

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And since her closure…well, I haven’t really written anything about this before but now that we’re opening in about 3–4 weeks, I figure I probably should say something…

Next month, Moustache 12 Wellesley Street will finally be reincarnated. Soon her spirit will be rehomed into our new little flagship store on K Road in Auckland City. Whilst the cookie bus in Wellington & the shop in Auckland University will still be operating & are awesome in their own right, this store will be our home kitchen & will be where our new wave of innovation and creativity will stem from.

3 shops in 3 months.

Without the closure of that original shop, we never would have been forced into being creative & built the Cookie Bus which allowed us to keep all of Team Mo’s jobs & keep us trading while we looked for permanent solutions. Without the closure, I never would’ve received the opportunity to open a store on Auckland University Campus. And without the closure, I wouldn’t be building this new flagship store which will be even more epic than the original.

It’s like 12 Wellesley made the ultimate sacrifice. Just like in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, Spock enters a radioactive chamber to repair the ships malfunction so that the rest of the Enterprise crew may live on.

Spock: “Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical…the needs of the many outweigh…

Kirk: “…the needs of the few.

Spock “Or the one.”

Spock places his hand on the glass;

Spock: “Live long & prosper”

Captain Kirk places his hand opposite while Spock’s hand slips down as he collapses and dies.

OMG WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH HOLY CRAP. SUCH EMOTIONS. DAMN YOU SPOCK. DAMN YOU!!!! THE MOST HUMAN VULCAN WE WILL EVER KNOW.

….anyway….wait, where was I going with this?

Oh yeah, that’s right, I was comparing my life to Star Trek (because the demise of the Enterprise & the death of Spock is totally the same thing as closing my one tiny minuscule shop…)

As much as I adored and loved that store, it was the logical choice. It needed to be done. And with her death, an injection of life into the three projects inspired by her.

I am writing this on the plane as I fly out of Wellington. I had an amazing time in Wellington setting up Moustache Milk & Cookie Bus but now it’s time to come home to Auckland to reincarnate that store I shut down. When I moved the bus down to Wellington, I was told by bankers and other professionals that they had doubts that I could do it because I was too young and inexperienced to know how to manage 2–3 different shops let alone in 2 different cities. UM BUT EXCUSE ME, my homegirl J.K Rowling once said that “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”.

Four years ago when I was 21, did I have the ability to open Moustache? Did I have the resources? Nope. No. Nada. I agree with you Old Banker Man, I am inexperienced, I own that, but at least I’m doing something about it instead of sitting in my safe cushy banking chair telling others they can’t do it. Because how am I meant to become experienced if I don’t go and become experienced? 4 years on & I ask myself the same question, do I have the ability or the resources to open 3 stores? Same answer again, nope. no. nada. 4 years on and bankers still won’t touch us, 4 years on & we’ve had to close our doors and resurrect into a new form. But when I say new form, I don’t mean one new form, I mean 3 new forms cuz we going from Diglett to Dugtrio up in this bitch.

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4 years on and I still know nothing. None of us truly know anything. You could have the perfect plan, know all the stats and have all the resources and you still know nothing. Because that’s the real world. Only by doing will you know.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Teddy Roosevelt

People might see that we have built three stores in 3 months and think, “Oh wow they must be doing really well!”. Well, I’m not writing here so that I can be frontin’. As comfortable as it is to hide behind a wall & put up that successful front, it would be incongruent to the entire point of this blog…scratch that, it would be incongruent to the entire point of life itself.

I can’t sit here and tell you I have everything under control. Because I can’t even control my weekly intake of fries let alone the entire future of our business. Because the reality of it is that we are still a startup. The reality is that the only thing that keeps us going are our amazing Mo fans supporting small local business.

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But to achieve this, my hair is unkempt, my nails half chewed off, my brother & I (who quit his $100k engineering job to help me make this dream a reality) are here with stress up to our eyeballs, slogging it out day in, day out, to make this work. These 3 shops, in these 3 months with no backing and little to no resources are not a product of fortune but are a product of grit & scrappiness.

Scrappy. It can mean one of two things: disjointed/incoherent/ imperfect OR it could mean determined. I like to think we are both the definitions of scrappy. Imperfect and disjointed yet despite that, still determined and pugnacious.

So, now you know the news. We may have closed the original store in January but we have been on the grind ever since.

And next month, Moustache’s flagship store is coming back from the dead ‘cuz baby?

You know we saved the best for last.

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