The first time I wrote the story of how cocomo Joe came to be, it was way too long to put into the location it ocupies on the website, so I am rewriting it here. There was a whole lot more that went into this, and I believe it is worth writing it down.
In late 2008 I was well past my useful life as a real estate agent and was wondering what I was going to do next. I got impatient and started making some investments that ended up not turning out well, costing me a few hundred thousand dollars. While that was happening, I had some other personal things happen, starting with the passing of my mother, and then two weeks later, the sudden passing of a good friend. Two weeks after that, I was involved in a motorcycle accident at the racetrack that was very devastating, and ended up on a lot of pain medication while I started the healing process. After several weeks I stopped taking the medication and endured withdrawals while still in a lot of pain, and I never had an opportunity to process the greif of the loss of loved ones.
During this time I watched a TV program about a couple guys who were models in NYC that made granola when not working. I didn't think much of it at the time. A while later I was at the lowest, most miserable point of my life, and when I broke, I felt really bad because I felt as though the final straw was over loss of money instead of loss of loved ones or my own health. I wondered if everything would be tolerable if I got all my money back, and I thought how sad that would be if the answer was yes.
I realized I felt as though I wanted to walk out the front door of my house and never come back. I didn't want to hurt myself. I didn't want to get drunk. I wanted to disappear. I realized that complaining would do no good, and I had had a pretty good life so far, so if this was what came next I knew I couldn't complain. But I was finished. And I knew I had to change everything about my life. But I didn't know how.
In the depths of despair, I begged for a sign, and the idea came to me that I should make some Granola like those two guys did. I thought it was stupid but I had nothing else, so I said 'okay' and Googled 'recipe for Granola' because I had never made it. How long do you bake it? What temperature? I found a recipe with framework I felt comfortable with, and threw out their ingredients to replace with some of my own. My first try wasn't bad. I took it to work the next day and the receptionist, who was very picky, tried it and liked it. Her smile gave me the slightes spark of a purpose inside. I could give people things that made them smile. How long had it been since I had done that? Had I ever done that?
It seemed too simple. At first my ego was screaming at me saying things like 'what are you gonna do, sit at the farmers market and make $25 a week?'
I didn't listen. I couldn't. I had nothing else to hang on to. I decided to do what I did when I first started selling real estate, by just doing what was in front of me and letting the results take care of themselves. When I felt awful, which was a lot during that time, I would go home and make Granola. It was my safe place. My safe activity that could help me feel worthwhile. I clung to it like life itself. And what happened next solidified this forever.
I was at Whole Foods in Venice California buying some nuts from the bulk bin. When you do that, you take a twist tie and write a SKU number on it so they know what to charge you. After writing the number, I twisted the tie to find that on the back side, written in ink was the phrase YOU ARE BLESSED.
At first I thought it must have been written on a bunch of them. I checked every twist tie in the whole store and this was the only one. I know we make what we want of things, but I could have easily grabbed the one next to it and never known. I believe this was The Universe giving me a message, saying 'I know you're shaky on this, and I appreciate you taking a chance, so I'm giving you this to hang on to'.
And hang on to it I have. I looked at this entire thing as a chance to be of service, to make a difference, to have a purpose. I knew if I ever gave up and quit (and it has been tempting many times) I would be saying no to the gift of life, the gift of a life with a purpose.
I make good food and provide it for people who want to take care of their body. What higher purpose could there be?
It's been a long road to get here, and as I write this, success is still in question. Since that time in late 2008 and early 2009 I have expanded from just Granola to raw food bars (JOEBAR) and the caramel corn (COCOMO CORN). All of our products are made with the highest level of integrity and we do not sacrifice healthfulness for good taste or good taste for healthfulness. If I can't make something that offers both, I won't make it.
I often wonder if the person who wrote that on the twist tie had any idea what impact it could have, and if they knew it could be such a factor in someone persisting through so much to do something. I wonder if they'll ever taste our products.
I have learned many things during this journey so far, and I know I'll learn a lot more. One important thing I've learned is finding a purpose and committing to it is important to feel worthwhile, at least for me. I don't know if it mattered so much what I committed to, as much as it mattered that I just decide to make something my purpose and commit to it. When people say something about me living my dream, I have to correct them because this wasn't my dream. I never said I wanted to start an organic food company until I did it. It wasn't my dream. It was my path, or a path I have chosen to follow through with, and I'm glad I found it, at least most of the time.
And even though the ink has faded, I still have the twist tie. I will never let it go.