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Foreign Creatures

Future Church Lobby and Lounge Concept

design, churchJessica1 Comment

I am so excited about this space! This is a NEW space. I wanted to dream big without rules or limitations. To not be constricted by making a room a classroom just because it has 4 walls. In the end, will the space really look like this? Probably not but I'm glad these ideas are a part of the conversation. Also, a huge part of the design is also credited to the video contractor who also 3D rendered the necessary items and placed things accordingly with their design judgment.

Reception.jpg

Getting church approval can be difficult. There are a lot of people which means there are a lot of opinions. Our lead and project manager gave us creative freedom on what to do with the space. We knew we needed to be realistic but we also knew we could challenge the modern church design. I knew exactly what I didn't want our church to look like so let's start off with that. If you do a quick search on church interior design you'll probably see images similar to this. I wanted to break away from this and focus on being a practical vibrant church.

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I approached each room by asking the following questions:

  1. What is this room going to be used for?
  2. Who will be using this room?
  3. What type of design and furniture will complement the purpose of the room (function before aesthetics)

After getting a general idea of the type of room I was designing, I created a mood board and a layout of the room.

Lobby-Reception-Concept.jpg

When I first saw the floor plan, this space was 2 separate rooms. I wanted to knock down the wall to open the space and create a larger walk way for our congregation before entering the multipurpose room. Our church has a focus on discipleship and I wanted to be smart about this space. But this idea will have to be part of a longer discussion. We presented this challenge to our contractor and he created this glass partition to divide the space. Giving us the option to use this space as one big room or as two rooms. And it looks amazing!

Lobby View from Reception.jpg
Lobby View from Reception2.jpg

I wanted this next room to be a space where people can meet up. Our church emphasizes discipleship and I wanted this space to be that environment for people...for small groups, individual meet ups, or to study. Another dream is to have a coffee bar or section. There's discussion on having another designated space for it but for now, it's in the corner of this room.

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Lounge.jpg

We're still a long way into furnishing the interior of the building which is great! It gives us more time to think about the space and to be SMART about our decisions.

Concept Design for our Church Expansion

church, designJessicaComment
Front View.jpg
Entrance.jpg

Our church is in the process of building a new structure in our current land for many years. In the past couple of months construction has started and we see progress in physically expanding our church. In the beginning of the year, the building committee wanted to show awareness of the project to the rest of the congregation. I was asked to help with the interior design of the new building via a virtual video tour.

I was so excited to be a part of this team because 1) I love the church 2) I love design. I have no school background in interior design but to be able to be a part of this, I was for sure willing to do research and spend many many hours coming up with a design that makes sense, that's practical, and aesthetically pleasing.

GOAL
The goal of this project was to create a video for the congregation to see what the new building could look like and to raise funds to complete the building. We only had 1 month to design it and to go back and forth with our video vendor to create something we were happy with.

TEAM
Our church design team consisted of a project manager, a lead, and 2 designers. The other designer focused on the MPR while I focused on the rest of the rooms. We all gave creative input on the exterior of the building. Our church hired a contractor to make our concept and vision into a visual experience video. So our team's focus was to come up with a concept and look so our contractor can make the space come alive.

CHALLENGES
We had 1 month to produce something amazing and I was working on this project while still owning Snociety and working part time at my job. 1 month is a very short amount of time. We were showing this video to our church of about 1000 people. They could love it or hate it. This will be their first impression! Our design decisions within this 1 month could possibly change and is not set in stone. But whatever design choices we chose would stick with the congregation - whether or not our building could look like that in the end.

Back View.jpg

Here's the video that took us 1 month! I'll be posting about the process of the rooms I designed and how I came up with each room's concept in the future weeks.

My 2 Month Sabbatical

thoughtsJessicaComment
 Photo by:  Musicgoon

Photo by: Musicgoon

In 1 week my sabbatical will be over! I wanted to protect my 2 months after Snociety by resting, refreshing, and refocusing. I went to Chicago with my friends, Disney World with Aaron and had a ton of spontaneous fun with my friends. I was able to rest and refresh but not refocus quite yet. These past 2 months were filled with so much home projects and fun stuff that I haven't been able to do art for myself - that would be the refocusing part. Ideally I would like 1 more month of saying "no" to things like freelance work and serving at church but I can't justify another month without feeling guilty and selfish. 2 months is already a long time to recuperate from 1.5 years of Snociety stress.

During my sabbatical I said I would only commit to working at my part-time job and designing Sunday church announcement slides which is only once a week. But it's hard to narrow my workload when I love to work and do stuff. I cheated my promise to myself 3x already but I have no regrets. They were opportunities I wanted to do and I didn't want to pass up. More to share on that later!

Sabbatical is a time to rest but I obviously define my sabbatical by doing more projects. Here are the things I had planned to do and the things I've accomplished in 1.5 months.

  • clean every inch of the house (but really...i have 3 more boxes to clear out)
  • container boxes for every room
  • get a nightstand
  • take cake decorating class
  • make car emergency kits
  • set up skin routine

Things I still need to do. It may not be done by next week but I will get it done somehow, sometime.

  • organize all photos
  • Hawaii trip video
  • SF trip Video
  • Kirstie bachelorette video
  • Chicago trip video
  • HK trip video
  • Shanghai trip video
  • add wedding photos to portfolio
  • DIY kitchen set
  • make a baby rattle
  • learn to do the splits
  • learn Korean
  • sell shoes
  • learn about US history
  • play piano
  • update portfolio
  • make a video portfolio
  • make game boards
  • make iPad stand
  • make yarn hanging artwork
  • prep baby stuff
  • take dance class
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    Snociety's Goodbye Party and the Unexpected Call

    restaurant, adoptionJessicaComment
    Video by Terrence.

    It's been 1.5 months since we closed Snociety and MAN OH MAN has it been a great 1.5 months. We had our Snociety Goodbye party on March 31st and it was great to see so many of our family and friends who came out to support us and to celebrate this part of our journey. Aaron and I discussed how it felt like our wedding. I love parties and I really enjoyed the day with everyone.

    But there's a story that I want to share that happened at the end of that party.

    At 6pm that night (after the party was over), I got a text from our adoption agency asking us if she can call us within the hour to discuss a potential baby who's ready to be adopted. My initial thought was "are you serious? We literally just ended Snociety and we MIGHT have a baby". I was in shock and in awe in God's timing for even the possibility of adopting that night.

    Our social worker called us to tell us about the situation of the baby. He was a newborn and was ready to be discharged from the hospital on Sunday (the next day). There were 2 circumstances we needed to be aware of regarding this baby. After the call we told her we'd pray about it and let her know in the morning if we are open in adopting this baby. The birthparents chose 3 families out of all the family portfolios that were shown to them so now it was up to the social worker to let those families know about the case to see if they were open to adopting this baby.

    The next morning we called back our agency and said yes we are open to adopting the baby. We were told that we'd receive another call that night if the baby will be coming home with us that night or if they decided to choose another family. Our lives has already changed in anticipation for this baby boy. Last April we almost adopted a 4 year old but the guardians decided not to choose adoption in the end. We knew that we had to guard our hearts since there were 2 other families that the birthparents could end up choosing. We also had to prepare ourselves in the case that the birthparents did choose us as the adopted family. We packed our car with a carseat on Sunday and decided on a middle name for the baby. We have the first name chosen but still needed a middle name for our first child.

    We were at church on Sunday and ended up skipping the worship service because we were so nervous and anxious. We went to McDonald's for lunch then went to Aaron's parents house to chill there while we waited for the call from our agency. I didn't want to talk to anyone that day. I was just so nervous and played so many different scenarios in my head. I took a nap that afternoon and felt my eyes fluttering as I slept. That night we also celebrated my brother and my birthday with my family. They knew our situation and was hoping we'd be chosen as well. We got the call in the middle of our dinner at 7pm and was told that the birthparents chose another family.

    I was okay. A part of me didn't want to get chosen because I knew I had a Chicago and Florida trip planned in the month of April. I also wanted a 2 month sabbatical to take care of our home, myself, and to focus on our marriage. So a part of me felt relieved that I would still get to vacation and take on my personal projects. The other part of me was wondering how amazing it would be to become a parent that night (it wouldn't be finalized and there are other things attached to taking a baby home but basically we'd be parenting). I knew it could be many more months or years until we adopt a child. We just really don't know.

    It wasn't until 6 days later I felt the weight of it and cried at home while cleaning. I was so sad. I wanted that baby to be ours and wish they'd chosen us. I tried to distract myself by keeping busy and watching tv. But even thru it all I cried the whole time. I couldn't even go to Aaron to tell him of my struggles. It was only until he came downstairs when he saw me crying that I told him how sad I was. Even though I knew this baby wasn't in God's plan for us, there's still a loss and sadness that comes with the possibility of adopting. That was the last day I cried about this case.

    We know what we're getting ourselves into in this adoption journey. It's not easy and there are so many unknowns. And if you know me, I don't work well with unknowns. I need a plan and I need to see what our future looks like in a year or in five. We're going to continue to trust in God's plan. This really showed us how God's timing is perfect and that only He knows what's best for us. I think God is preparing our hearts to be ready for our baby and I want to be as ready as I can be. Aaron and I can't help to think why God would lead us through the adoption journey, owning Snociety, being part-time at my job, and just being where we are at this moment.

    Snociety: Ending this Project of Ours

    restaurant, adoptionJessicaComment
    Project1.jpg

    March 30 will be our last day of owning a restaurant. Aaron and I are so grateful for this opportunity and for the support from our family and friends. And we are very very happy with this decision! It's almost bittersweet but more sweet. It's like 75% sweet (that's a boba joke).

    There are so many things I still want to share and that will just have to be saved for later even after Snociety no longer exists. Our shop had a lease of 3 years, we have been here for a year and a half. We had to make a decision to renew the lease or just stop Snociety late last year since our lease ends this March. Here are 2 reasons (in very short explanation even though it's really not) why we have decided to close shop. In all of this, we don't regret owning a restaurant at all.

    1. Difficulty in the Future
      1. We've had to learn how to run a business in every aspect - financial, payroll, inventory, operations, management, marketing, and like everything else you would do in a company but just in a smaller scale. I enjoyed being the hr and being the boss but can I keep doing this for another year or 3 (per agreement based on lease)? Probably not considering our current lifestyle and future dreams.
      2. Increase in food/labor - fish prices are increasing and minimum wage is increasing ($15/hour by 2020). It's already hard enough to sustain what we have currently. I never raised the price on the food or drinks since we took over. As a consumer, I didn't like that move. So I tried my best to offset the cost elsewhere. Aaron and I were putting in over 80 hours a weeks combined at the shop while still having our other jobs. God has really given us strength to endure the labor. We needed to be there physically for financial reasons as explained in point 3.
      3. Fees everywhere - besides labor, food, and rent costs, there are so many costs that keep popping up everywhere! Workmen's comp, merchant costs, CC fees, LADWP, internet, business renewal tax, equipments, insurance, like how is this possible. The only way we make money is if people buy food/drinks. So a percentage of what you pay is divided among all the things I just listed and more. As a business owner, please consider that when you pay for your next meal. It's tough. Also, cash is everyone's best friend. Those CC fees kill.
      4. People - I've been hiding so many feelings inside. When a customer gets mad, I have to accept it. When an employee gets mad, I can't just say what I want to say. There are so many labor laws to follow and the "right" thing to say and do to not get in trouble. The government is on the employees side. I don't feel supported as an employer in California. That's right! Unsupported and no slack. Little Tokyo can be great at times but we've also had homeless people problems in our area. We didn't want to deal with that anymore.
    2. Time to Move On
      1. Owning a restaurant or shop is and was one of our dreams. Not necessarily poke but boba all the way. We feel grateful that we got to say we owned a restaurant in our lifetime. But this was never our dream. We took over the restaurant from someone else. We feel like we were continuing the previous owners' dream. We still got to live part of our dream but we would love to be able to have a shop more east, with a clean slate, with a better drink menu, and designed to how we want it to be. We were constricted by that here because of cost and time. We were already trying to learn how to run a business that we didn't feel like it was the right time to make it completely ours. I'm happy with our decision because it was the best thing we could do for ourselves.
      2. Family - we're still waiting on adoption and we hope we can have a child this year or the next. It's hard to say when, but it would be extremely difficult for us to have a child and own a restaurant at the same time. One of the main reasons why we wanted Snociety was to distract us while we waited to be matched with a baby. It certainly worked and we were very distracted. But our main goal is still to have a family and focus on that. Family is our main dream. A restaurant is not.

    I've been counting down the days and I am thrilled to have done this project and to move on to something new. We've been asked what we are going to do after Snociety ends. We still have our normal jobs and we want to start a new project. But in the month of April and June we are going to rest, refocus, and do fun stuff! More on that to come.

    Snociety: Weekly Schedule

    restaurantJessicaComment
    2017-11-17 13.05.17.jpg

    Something I really want to share is how we run the business while doing everything else we do. Other than Snociety, the other biggest things on our plate are church-related things, Aaron's full-time job, my part-time job, and family/friend life. It took us a long time to figure out how to balance everything we do. There are definitely days when I feel like it's too much for us and when I feel like I just need to sit.

    I learned that the best thing for my schedule is to allot time for each thing. I allot work hours for my part-time job, freelance work, relaxing, watching TV, and etc. A benefit is that I can concentrate on the task at hand without distractions. It also reduces my stress and helps me balance my time. You will see this clearly on Wednesdays when I schedule everything Snociety-related. I try to be strategic. So on Tuesdays I create a shopping list of all the food items to buy on Wednesday to last us until the following Wednesday.

    Monday

    • Every other Monday I collect timecards

    Tuesday

    • Make a shopping list of what I need to buy or what I need to ask our vendor to ship on Wednesday

    Wednesday (Depending on what we need, I may or may not have to go to all the markets. This would be the order I do things as well. Geographically it makes sense too)

    • One West Bank - exchange money, get coins
    • Restaurant Depot - where I get most of our produce items
    • Chinese Market - where I get only a few of our produce items
    • NT Foods - where I get bulk items of paper products and drink ingredients
    • Costco/Costco Business - where I get most of our paper products, office supplies, and kitchen supplies
    • Input receipts to Quicken - after shopping in the morning I make note on each receipt on how much I spent in each category (food, paper products, office supplies, etc) then input it into Quicken. Organizing our finances is another big subject that deserves its own blog post.
    • Count cash money from the previous Wednesday to Tuesday - I count a weeks worth of money that we receive per day from the register and make sure the cash on hand matches the cash that Clover records. If it does not, then we have to go to our camera feed to see if anyone stole any money.
    • Input Cash to Quicken - after counting the cash sales, I input the amount into Quicken as one transaction
    • Input CC to Quicken - I go into Clover and input every days' credit card sales into a separate transaction. So that means I would input 7 deposited transactions every Wednesday into our checking account.
    • Input Chow Now to Quicken - this is our online ordering application. Every day we get a disbursement of our earnings and I would input the amount of sales into our Quicken on the days we get online sales.
    • Reconcile cash - after counting all our cash on hand, I make sure the cash I have in our safe, registers, and cash register drawer equal the amount of cash recorded in our Quicken account. It's always the best to make sure cash on hand matches the cash on record.
    • Put money in cash drawer - I put change into one of our locked drawers at the shop in case the registers are running low on smaller bills or coins. Every week I would exchange large bills in the drawer for smaller bills. On days other than Wednesdays, if the register is running low on smaller bills, I would exchange it for the small bills we have in the locked drawer.
    • Schedule - I try to schedule employees 2 weeks in advance. Some weeks it may be hard to schedule 2 weeks in advance because we're going thru transitions of new employees, holidays, and availability change. This is the day I use to make sure schedules are out and that our employees are good with their shifts.
    • Payroll - I do this every other week since our payroll is bi-weekly. I would count our employees hours and tips and then send it to our bookkeeper. She'll do her thing and send me the checks to print myself  when she's done; which is normally the day after.
    • Order from vendors - I would text a couple of our vendors for shipment of fish and other items on this day. Normally they would deliver the next day or on the coming Friday.
    • Shopping list - I double check if I'm missing any items that needs to be bought on Wednesdays. With over 200 items in our inventory, I can miss a few things on my Tuesday's shopping list.
    • Print invoices - we don't get many invoices via email because most of our invoices arrive when our vendors make the actual fish shipment. But some of our vendors will email us the paperwork.
    • Sauce - we have 6 sauces for our poke bowls. 5 of them I have to make and they are top secret. So this is the day I like to make it and then I have the employees help me bottle them. The yuzu sauce is my favorite to make because it's the easiest :)
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    This photo doesn't do justice on how full my car could get.

    Thursday

    • Nothing but monitoring the shop if I'm not there

    Friday

    • Print schedule - 2 days is enough time for our employees to get back to me on their schedule. There are usually a couple of changes and shift changes but by Friday, I am ready to print the schedule to put on our office wall for all our employees to see.
    • Print payroll - when it's payroll time, I would print our employees' checks in the office and give it to them. This is their happy day and my sad day.
    • Put money in cash drawer - even though I do this Wednesday, I like to make sure our cash drawer is stocked in case we get super busy on the weekends and everyone pays in cash. **credit cards really sucks for employers...

    Saturday

    • Nothing but monitoring the shop if I'm not there

    Sunday

    • Farmer's Market - this is near our church so we go after our Sunday service. We like to get some of our produce (lemons, cucumber, etc) here because it's cheaper!
    • Restaurant Depot - we pick up rice here because it's near our church as well and because they have rice in stock. In the Pasadena location, they don't always have it. Plus, Aaron can help me lift the 50 lbs. bag of rice :)

    More or less this is what my weekly schedule looks like. I try to do everything while Aaron is at his full-time job so when we do have time together, we don't have mounds of errands to run. I hope that was interesting to read and I hope you got a glimpse of how we run the shop!

    Diamond Bar Center Wedding

    design, weddingJessica1 Comment
    James and Rachel Wedding Suite2.jpg

    Rachel and I were roommates in college and I was so happy she asked me to design her and James' invites! Unlike all the other invitations I've done, they wanted all colors on their wedding stationery. Their wedding theme was basically the rainbow and I loved it. I did the watercolor effect and writing on my iPad then designed it on a 11x17 layout. The information and RSVP was included into one sheet with a tear off for the RSVP section. It was then folded into either a coral or blue envelope from Paper Source.

    James-and-Rachel-Wedding-Suite8.jpg

    When actually designing and prepping invitations, I rarely take progress photos. Although these photos don't say much, here are some "progress" photos. I loved how the colors turned out. I printed it on my Canon printer and used my industrial cutter to cut 100 pages at a time. I love the efficiency of it. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the folded invites.

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    James and Rachel Wedding Suite6.JPG

    Here's what the first draft looked like when I sent it to the couple. It certainly gives off a different feeling huh?

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    Photography by Ivan Chen Photography

    Snociety: Tools I Use to Run the Business

    restaurantJessicaComment

    It took us about 5 months to get a hold of running the administration side of Snociety and figuring out what works best for our business. It's important for us to stay on track of things and stay organized and the following tools help us do that!

    POS (Point of sale) - Clover: We continued using Clover for our register system because the previous owner had used them as well. It was also easier to transfer the necessary finances and documents from the same company. We have 2 registers, 2 register printers, and 1 kitchen printer.

    Loyalty Program - Digital Loyalty: We started off with Five Stars but decided this wasn't the best way to reward our customers. It cost us $300/month to use Five Stars and we didn't think it was good for us to spend that money on a loyalty program so we decided to switch to Digital Loyal Zoo. Our tier cost $64/month and it was already integrated into our POS. Customers will give us their phone number and their order would be attached to their account. I liked Digital Loyal Zoo because it automatically gave our customers points per every dollar they spent whereas Five Stars we had to manually put in their points. Another pro is that we were able to integrate our loyalty program with our online ordering system, ChowNow. It took awhile to let our customers know that their reward points were still available and have been transferred to our new reward system but overall, I am very pleased with our decision.

    Finances - Quicken: We input all income and expenses that go from our checking and credit card accounts. We also use it to keep track our daily sales, how much we pay our vendors, keep track of payroll, and anything else dealing with money. This is also helpful to keep a record of where our money goes and to export a cash flow report at the end of the month. We use Quicken every day to track our personal expenses as well. This app is vital in running our business!

    Scheduling - Home Base: I started off using Excel for scheduling but wanted something that was easier to access on the go and that was just easier overall. Home Base is also integrated with Clover so that was another pro. It took time getting used to scheduling employees with this program but it's a lot more user-friendly and it only takes me about 20 minutes to schedule employees now. After I finish the schedule, I text our employees their schedule for approval. After they approve or let us know their changes, the schedule is fixed. If they can't make their shift they'll have to find their own replacement. I try to schedule our employees 2 weeks in advance but it can be hard because employees are hired/quit/fired and availability changes very often.

    Payroll - Google Excel: Our employees use a time punch card when their shift starts and ends. Every 2 weeks I'll input the time into Google Excel and then rewrite it in military time. I have a formula that will add up all the hours. Then I give that number to our bookkeeper who will then calculate the tax and whatever else she does. Then she'll send the payroll check to us and we'll print it on our own computer on special paper.

    Payroll.jpg

    Inventory - Microsoft Excel: At the end of every month I'll walk around our store and mark exactly how many of each item we have. For the fish, I have to weigh each piece for inventory to make sure our cost is correct. We have 230 items in our inventory so you can imagine how long it takes us to do inventory at the end of the month. One thing we try to do to avoid counting so much is just not buying so much items towards the end of the month. In order to do that, I have to observe our inventory trend and be smart on when to shop and how much to shop for. After I add up everything, I'll save out the sheet for my dad to calculate our inventory cost for the month.

    Inventory.jpg

    Announcements/News - Google Doc: We have about 8-10 employees at a time. Since we don't work every day and our employees' schedules vary, we have to find a way to communicate Snociety news and updates to our employees fast. So we found the best way to do that is to write them a letter and to print it and leave it in their punch card slot. If it's super important, we'll make sure to talk to each employee in person.

    Website - Squarespace: We use Squarespace for our personal blog and we love it. It's easy to set up and their designs are modern and user-friendly.

    Online Ordering - Chow Now: We've looked at many different online ordering systems and we chose Chow Now because they charge a set fee per month whereas other companies charge a percentage of your sale. We also liked how their online ordering system was easy to use and they even give us a free app on mobile devices for customers to order from. They used to have a delivery option via Uber but they are no longer on contract with them so that's a bummer for us.

    These are all the main tools we use. Some other important tools we use include Swann View (video recording and live camera), Yelp, and Evernote. I hope this gives you a glimpse of what we use to run a business like ours. I say that because every business requires different tools. And depending on how broad of a business you are, the more tools you will use.