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Foreign Creatures

Snociety: Handling Yelp Reviews

restaurantJessicaComment
Yelp Reviews.jpg

One of the hardest things for me so far is Yelp. I loved Yelp like to the MAX. I would use it to find the best restaurants, I would take every review to consideration, and I would swipe thru all 432 photos at a restaurant. BUT NOW I HATE YELP. It's like the worse thing to a restaurant owner. Kind of. I love the 5 star reviews and the many compliments. But then there's those 3 stars or those reviews that comment on wrong orders, long lines, bad process, portion control, and unhappy employees. It's true though...we mess up orders, we don't always have good customer service, and we can't control long lines to the bathroom. But this is where I need to learn to be kind and loving.

So here are 3 things to consider when answering Yelp reviews.

  1. Don't get emotional
    Yelpers tend to make negative reviews as soon as they can because their experience was just that horrible. You don't see as many Yelpers posting positive reviews right away. But when a customer is mad, they go straight to social media and Yelp. It's easy to take things personal and get upset. It's easy for me to be defensive and to want to say how I truly feel but it's not good to fight back. I have to remember that I need to show grace. If it's difficult to read a bad review, come back to it later when you're feeling a lot stronger and when you feel confidence in the work you do.
  2. Yelpers do not always speak on behalf of the community
    Not everyone has Yelp and neither does everyone go to Yelp to rave or complain. There is a chance that the Yelper is not the only person who feels happy about your food or feels upset that an order was taking too long to get to them. At first, we did take every review into consideration. One Yelper said we put too much rice, so then we told all our employees to put less rice. Then 2 weeks later a Yelper said that we didn't put enough rice. So it's really a balance of which reviews to consider and to make a judgment based on your business...not others. And our current solution is weighing our rice to make sure the proportions are correct and consistent. Ever since we started this shop, we answered all reviews either privately or publicly because we want them to know that they are heard. We want them to know that there are people behind our restaurant establishment.
  3. Read, learn, and improve
    Whether the review is positive or negative, we affirm the Yelper and thank them for their visit. We also tell them that we take everything they say into consideration...which we do! It's very important to listen to your customers but remember, do it with caution. You need to learn to do what is best for your business. For example, we switched from plastic bowls to eco-friendly bowls. It seemed like a great choice because it's good for the environment! However, the paper bowls absorbed the sauce and was a bit harder to eat out of. Instead of reverting back to our plastic bowls, we placed wax paper on top of the bowl so the sauce wouldn't get to the bottom. It's still a bit harder to eat, but as a business, we still believe switching to our new bowls were the right choice. It was also cheaper to get these paper bowls than the plastic ones! Surprising huh?

Waiting for a Year

thoughts, adoptionJessicaComment

Last March we were officially a waiting family for adopting. It feels so long that we've been waiting and I can't believe it's been a year. We just completed our recertification and we had our social worker come to our home to inspect and to talk to us about how things are going.

We're still unsure how long we are willing to wait until we try to have kids biologically. It's difficult to be patient especially when our friends around us are pregnant and have kids. We're trying to trust in God's timing and plan for us. I say try because we struggle with the wait and I tend to lean on what I think our future plans look like. I would like to think we'd have 5 kids before Aaron is 40. I would like to believe that we would adopt domestically and internationally for as long as we can and if the funds are there. I would like to believe that God has adoption in our future plans. But we really don't know. There's a burden in my heart for adoption so I wonder why God would allow me to feel this tug if in the end, He doesn't even allow us to adopt. So I try to trust in God's plan for us.

I think why would God give us a family if it's still difficult to bring two sinners together. Or why would God give us a family when we have so much going on. Bringing a child into our lives right now just doesn't seem like the right time. Aaron and I decided to buy a restaurant to focus our efforts and desire on something besides adoption. But now that we have it and understand how much work is put into it, it seems impossible to have a child right now while we're running a restaurant. So is God waiting for us to have this restaurant thing established and consistent? Or is God building our patience? Maybe God wanted us to go thru adoption just so we can own this shop. Or maybe God's plan for us isn't even about the shop or adoption. So what will He do with our lives?

Hurst Ranch Wedding

wedding, designJessicaComment

One of my favorite hobbies is designing wedding invitations. I'm a romantic and I like to make things pretty. And wedding invitations is a great avenue for all things beautiful, textile, and lovely!

To kick off showcasing some wedding designs I've done, I would like to start off with my dear friends Tim and Joce! They got married December of 2015 at a beautiful ranch in West Covina. This was the first time I've worked with watercolor and it was so much fun. It was challenging to figure out the process but as soon as I got the ink to water ratio, I felt at more ease.

I mocked up a watercolor background for the couple to see before watercoloring each individual piece. Their RSVP card was a tear off so they can send the postcard back.

Photography by Kyle Ng

The best part is that I have 2o more weddings to share with you all :)

Snociety: Theme

restaurant, home decorJessicaComment

After 4 months of being stuck with a logo...it's done! And now that I'm out of my stuck zone, I feel more confident in sharing our process and progress. So let's start off with our inspiration for changing up the space then we'll get more in depth in future post. When we got the restaurant, the space looked like this:

We decided to keep the wood walls and the major construction items like the countertops, flooring, and furniture. At least for phase 1. Phase 2 would be like if we had money to spend. Phase 1 is like a $2000 budget. And we know that budgets are really just a number that we kid ourselves. The wood is a tile and has a distressed look. The flooring is concrete, which I love. We wanted to bring some life into the restaurant and to be in the LA VIBE scene especially since we're located in downtown LA. So our theme word is...Urban Earthy. When it came to deciding furniture, decoration, uniform, and everything in between, we would ask ourselves..."is it urban earthy?" That was a good parameter for us to keep a cohesive theme going.

Since this restaurant was passed down to us and we were already in operation, we couldn't shut down to remodel. Plus, we didn't have the financial means to do it. So we did things little by little but fast.

Here were some inspirational photos for our Urban Earthy restaurant:

More photos to come and I'm excited to share the transformation especially when we get the funds to transform it into a beautiful urban earthy restaurant!

We bought a Poke Shop!

food, thoughtsJessicaComment

Here's the story of how we bought a poke and boba shop called Snociety Urban Eatery in Little Tokyo and how all of this happened in 3 days! One Friday we found out that our family member was planning to sell the poke shop. They offered it to us but we said no because we had no interest in being restaurant owners nor did we know anything about it. BUT THEN my parents talked to us about how it's a great opportunity and they crunched some numbers for us to see. And on Saturday night, we were like okay maybe we should do this. (Everything also made sense. It wasn't just because my parents that we decided to do this.) Then Sunday we prayed about it and Monday morning we decided YES. We needed to make the decision quick or else the shop would've been sold to someone else. So that Monday I had to tell my boss that that week will have to be my last week with the company.

Here are 3 reasons why we decided to take on a poke shop and call ourselves restaurant owners!

  1. The opportunity was there - the shop's Yelp reviews were good, people liked the food, everything was set in place. We just had to survive. And will we?
  2. It's been hard waiting to adopt and we needed to do something BIG to keep our minds off of kids. We figured owning a shop will definitely help us with that.
  3. We love poke, boba, Little Tokyo, and Japan. The Saturday my parents talked to us about the shop, was the same day Aaron and I had our Japanese Day Date. On those dates, we would go to Little Tokyo to eat ramen for lunch and then pick up sashimi at the Japanese market and eat it for dinner at home while watching a movie, which ends up being a Marvel movie. Was it meant to be?

It's been about 3 months since we owned the shop and a lot of things have changed. I'll be posting before and after photos and many many challenges and joys of being a restaurant owner. So many things to share! Aaron and I could not have done it without our parents, family, and friends support. We've had so many visitors and we feel so loved every time a familiar face opens our door. It's been a joy and I am thrilled to serve our family and friends in this way.

Sharing the News

familyJessicaComment

Here's a post I wrote in January 2016

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We've heard from the agency and from other adoptive parents how it may be difficult to discuss adoption with family and friends. We were told that "they just won't understand." Aaron and I now understand what those people meant. And the longer we're in this process, the more weight and worry I feel. But I think that's why God wants us to rely on Him and to bring our worries and fears to him. Here are some of the questions and responses we got when we told people we're planning to adopt for our first kid:

  • Can you afford it?
  • What if the birthparents take the kid back?
  • Why do you want to adopt your first kid?
  • I'm worried about the birthparents medical history
  • Won't they feel less loved if your 2nd kid is biological?

These are all great questions that we had to ask ourselves as well. Some of these are misconceptions, which we didn't even know. And even with our worries, we feel good about our decision. I think it's great that people ask us questions but there are questions that stir a bit when asked. As long as people ask with a good tone or attitude then I'd be happy to answer them. I'm very wishful thinking. If this adoption really does go through, then our family will never stop hearing these questions. This is something I'll have to learn to get through and be okay not answering others.

I say if this adoption really does go through because even though we're invested already, there's a possibility that we won't be placed. Maybe after 2 years of waiting, Aaron and I will be tired of just waiting. It's hard to say and we won't know until the time comes. We just have to keep praying that if this is God's will, then we have to be patient and trust in Him.

The beginning of our adoption process

familyJessica1 Comment

Here's a post I wrote in January 2016

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Aaron and I attended an 8 hour orientation with Bethany Christian Services tonight and there are so many things racing through our minds. With the advice of some adoptee parents, I decided to journal our process - for us, for our future kids, and for you. I am writing this in January and I don't know when or if this will ever get published on my blog. There are things I want to share...the excitement and joy about adopting, concern about the birthparents and waiting period, how faith and prayer plays a huge role in this, what others may think, and why we want to adopt. I'm unsure where to start talking about these things so I'll start off with when we started thinking about adopting.

Plans for children
Adoption was on our mind before we got engaged. I think a lot of couples start off this way. Aaron was more into adoption than I was. I just wanted kids so I just considered adoption as a possibility. We both agreed to have kids first and then adopt because we wanted to adopt an available child and because it's a picture of how God adopted us to be His children. We got married in 2013 and lived our lives just us 2 for 2 years. We talked about having kids after 2 years of marriage. But right before our 2 year anniversary (in May 2015) we bought a home and decided to wait to have kids until our home was organized and livable so we don't have to worry about moving things around while I'm pregnant. Our goal was then to get pregnant starting January 2016, which meant that we had to finish organizing and decorating our home in 7 months. We didn't doubt that we would have trouble getting pregnant. We never took a fertility test but just assumed that it'll be easy to get pregnant. Wishful thinking we know. So we had our plan set. Get pregnant beginning of 2016 and have a kid by the end of the year.

How adoption came to our mind sooner than later
Last September I videoed a coworker (and his family) who adopted a kid from Korea. One of my company's purpose is to serve and care for others so our CEO wanted the adoptive parents to share their adoption process and wanted me to film their story to be shared with the rest of the company. I'm a graphic designer at work but I also do some video stuff - so that's why I'm the one who would be filming. I finished the video, learned more about adoption, shared it with Aaron and discussed and confirmed again with Aaron that we want to adopt in the future.

One month later I was thinking about the adoption video at work (not sure why). Maybe I was viewing the videos I've done in 2015. And I thought to myself "why not just adopt now? What are we waiting for?" That day Aaron picked me up from work and I told him what I thought. To my surprise he said "Okay, let's do it"...I didn't think he would be up for it so soon. For us it seemed so simple to just do it now. We didn't have a great reason to have biological kids first...we just wanted kids. It just seemed right to do it and we didn't have to discuss it further.

Finding an agency
The day after, I started to look at adoption agencies and asked my coworker for a bit more info. Aaron and I needed more information before doing anything so we signed up for a couple of meetings. At this point we knew we wanted to adopt an infant and have a closed adoption. Then we attended the International Adoption meeting at Bethany in November. We learned so much at this meeting: why Bethany encourages an open adoption, restrictions on adopting internationally, and what is required to adopt internationally. We were also convinced to have an open adoption instead of a closed adoption, which I will explain in a later post. So we came out of this meeting so confident and excited to start the process and so sure that adopting through Bethany was the right choice - especially because the gospel is part of their mission. They put so much love and care to the pregnant mothers. They give resources to the women and see if they are fit to raise a child; they don't push them towards adoption but instead give them that option. Aaron and I were convicted after this meeting and felt so strongly about adoption and why God put this in our hearts.

Is it a good time to adopt?
Though we felt so much more passionate about adoption after our first informational meeting, we wanted a kid fast. We didn't want to wait another year or 2 to have our adopted kid in our home. We wondered if we could get pregnant and adopt at the same time. I asked the agency and they said if we do get pregnant then our adoption application will have to be put on hold and we wouldn't be able to adopt until our kid is 1 year old (the rule now is if the kid is 6 months old). Aaron and I were struggling with this fact. We knew adopting would push our family plan further and that was hard for us. We prayed for God's wisdom on what we should do. Then we decided to have our first kid and then to adopt our second. But then I felt a tug in my heart that I wanted our first kid to be adopted. I wanted our kid to know that we chose to adopt him or her first. I told Aaron this and he was on board. We felt that God's plan for us was to adopt first.

Are we doing it or not?
Fast forward to today - the day we attended the domestic infant orientation with Bethany. It was an 8 hour orientation and oh my goodness we learned so much. We heard stories from a couple adopted parents and a birthmom, went thru the paperwork process of adopting, what would happen during the waiting period, and what happens during placement and post placement. I cried like 7x since the meeting. A whirlwind of thoughts.

During this meeting I struggled again with the fact that the average wait time to adopt a baby is 2 years. And this is average. The most may be 4 years. I got emotional and couldn't accept the fact that we would have to wait another 2 years to have a child. I cried and told Aaron that I'm not sure if adopting is what I want to do first even though earlier I said that I wanted our adopted kid to know that we chose him/her first. Very contrary but that's just how I felt. Aaron remained the same - he was willing to wait 2 years. After listening to the rest of the orientation, I changed my mind again. Geez right? On our way home I told Aaron how I came to the conclusion that adopting first is what I want to do. These are my reasons:

  • God is tugging on my heart to adopt a kid just as God adopted us to his family. I guess so much that we got to do it now
  • The adoption process will surely test Aaron and I in our marriage and us as individuals - and I want to feel it and be invested in it
  • God may be wanting us to use the waiting period to run full force to serve the church. We're involved in different ministries at church and I'm not sure if we're ready to step down in some of those ministries to focus on our family

If I were to sum up this post it would be this: Should we adopt or not? I first said yes, then no, then yes, then no, then yes let's do it. We are very excited yet scared to start this journey and I thank you for reading along :)

Let's Be Open

thoughtsJessicaComment

This year has been insane. Or maybe that's just the nature of Aaron and me. So let me just let it out and tell you what's going on. I'll explain more in future posts but here's what's been happening since our Paris trip.

  1. Aaron and I are planning to adopt
  2. Aaron and I were almost matched with a child but the adoption plan didn't go through. We we're sad to say the least
  3. I quit my job as a full-time graphic designer at a corporate company, where I've been working at for almost 4 years
  4. Aaron and I opened a poke shop
  5. Our guestroom's custom bookshelf is finally done

I'm pretty proud of #5 btw. Is this God's plan for us? We shall see.