Interview with my first subscriber, Kenny Sasaki, Founder of Charcoal & Herb
"I knew that if i fail i wouldn't regret that, but i knew the one thing i would regret is not trying"
-Jeff Bozos, Founder of Amazon & CEO
The biggest risk is not risking...to obsessively plan and chronically put off pursuing our greatest aspirations and living our greatest truth on the pretext that the future will somehow provide a more favorable back drop.
I'm not mega successful or earning as much as my peers working in more conventional "high" professions, i truly enjoy what i'm doing.
I'm also fully aware of the risks involved with entrepreneurship.
That being said, it's still one heaven of a ride!
Starting a new blog, The CustomMade Journey is both challenging and fun for me.
More importantly, it connected me with one of my first few subscriber to The CustomMade Journey, Kenny Sasaki.
(it was an email i send to my subscribers personally)
Kenny, left his job on Oct 2016 to begin his own CustomMade journey.
He founded Charcoal & Herb from his room, like how i begin CustomMade from my room so i invited for a great chat over coffee and curry puffs about his experiences and journey so far.
Enjoy our short conversion below.
1. What is Charcoal & Herb about?
Charcoal & Herb is about presenting a truly, all-natural way of health and body care.
We use only ingredients and herbs (certified organic as much as possible), without artificial additives (e.g. vitamins, preservatives), in as raw as possible (i.e. minimal factory processing), to bring about environmental-friendly healthcare products.
2. What made you start Charcoal & Herb?
i always love to experiment since young.
Was a bio chem student so...yep probably started from there..
Experimented cooking, like what ingredients go with what..
Experimented with clothing design, like what top goes with the bottom and choice of colours.. Didn’t manage to launch my clothing design some years back due to issues..
Experimented with gardening, like what plants grow best in what conditions..
Many plants died in my hands.. Ouch..
Ideas flood in best when I’m having my coffee at Starbucks, with my mind wondering off..
Then when an idea floats by, I pencil-scribble on a blank paper..
Charcoal & Herb was partly born from there.. An idea..
DONOVAN: Kenny actually started a men clothing line when he was much younger, he got pretty far in the process (bought in samples for his collection) but a lack of support financially cause him to put this project on hold.
3. What Are the values behind Charcoal & Herbs?
I agree with what you said with organic product being the “in” thing now..
However, whenever I look at the ingredient labels, there’re still chemicals and/or highly processed ingredients along with the organic ingredients..
So to me, it is still not “organic” enough..
Many times, I have to do my own research and experiment with organic stuffs, mixing and blending for my own needs instead of buying things from the shelf..
And so Charcoal & Herb was also partly started from telling the truth
In relation to the above, i'm not happy about how many of these products are out there “deceiving” consumers..
With many close friends, family and relatives having certain conditions here and there, I thought “Let’s share this with them”..
From better eating habits to natural healing alternatives.. Whether they accept the idea is another thing.. Not here to force them.. Am just sharing..
And with that thought and feeling, why not share with the world?
And yep Charcoal & Herb has compassion.. ;P
I have my dreams and liking in Life.. Everyone has..
Freedom from herd mentality is among the top liking in my list..
The "waking up 6am and reaching home 8pm, five days a week” gives rise to a vicious robotic cycle in which we “unknowingly” pass down generations after generations..
I wish to slowly break away from such cycles, as I feel they are detrimental to the overall human consciousness and evolution (A bit deep, so I won’t dwell into this.. Haha)..
Anyway, generally speaking, Charcoal & Herb was born from this desire, this passion..
DONOVAN: this struck a chord with me. I remember being an intern for ST Logistics when i was in NTU. I had to do it because NTU requires me to do it.
Did i find it useful? Not a single bit...
This made me question some of the things that we have to do. If the "herd mentality" is working for you, great!
But if it's not, it's time to start raising some questions.
"Whenever you ever find yourself in the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect"
- Mark Twain
Reality is largely negotiable If you stress test the boundaries and experiment with these "impossibles", you will quickly discover that most limitations are just fragile collection of socially reinforced rules that you can choose to break anytime.
-Tim Feris, Author of New York Times Best Seller, 4 hour Workweek
4. You left your job to pursue Charcoal & Herbs, What were the push Factors?
Waking up at 6am.. I’m not a morning person..
And I dread to wake up before the first sun rays hit my butt.. Haha.. I sleep late cos ideas seem to flow better at night.. At least thats for me..
Lack of personal time.. Monday to Friday, i'll be working..
Reaching home at 8pm doesn’t leave me with a lot of personal time..
Saturdays i'll be resting at home.. So I’m left with Sundays.. Not a lot of time if you ask me..
Can’t do what I wanna do.. Work to fulfil someone’s dreams or pursue my own dreams.. That pretty much sums it up..
5. How is the experience so far? Your journey towards starting Charcoal & Herb.
It’s fulfilling really.. Ups and downs..
De-moralizing at times.. Full of “fire’ at other times..
The sense of achievement when I’ve discovered or learn new things..
Also the sense of failure and disappointment when things don’t turn out as expected..
All these packaged together is what makes this experience fantastic.. Because now I have a story to tell..
6. What have you learn?
Firstly, I already know it ain’t easy doing up a business from scratch.. But I learned that it’s tougher than “ain’t easy”.. Haha..
I learned about accounting.. Because I need to get the numbers right, Profit and loss etc..
I learned about graphic design.. Because I need a company logo..
I learned about herbology.. Because I’m handling herbs..
I learned about consumer psychology.. Because I need to efficiently market my products..
And etc etc.. Many things I learned along the way.. I do get help from friends and family, and that's when I get hands-on and learn.
7. What challenges did you face so far?
Quite a fair bit of challenges..
Family objections.. Though I don’t get strong objections, it is enough to discourage..
Starting Charcoal & Herb from scratch will mean no income for some time with the possibility of a loss..
A lot of highlights on “why cannot make it”, which i questioned back “haven’t tried, so how ya know cannot make it”.
There were thousand and one reasons why “cannot”.. But I just need one reason why “can”
Getting organised.. Since I am now a founder (not a worker), i have to decide everything.. Getting things organised from delivery, purchasing, research etc can be daunting.
DONOVAN: This is something i can relate to quite a fair bit, especially the objections and skepticism.
Whenever i tell people what i do, sometimes i still get the skeptical look and questions...
"is your girlfriend/parents okay with it?"
and of course, the thousand reasons why this idea would not work.
The good thing is that you also get to meet the other side where people are inspired.
They asks questions like how to go about doing something of their own as well.
That is when i could really connect as i ask more about their vision and dreams.
It turns out we are more alike than we think. Every one has their own CustomMade vision and dreams.
8. Any advise or options on people who are considering leaving their job to start something like you did?
You never know if you don’t try it out.. Even if things don’t work out well, you will have the knowledge and experience to try again..
Knowledge plus Experience equals Wisdom.
And even if you don’t wanna try again, at least you have now a story to tell your grandchildren..
DONOVAN: Stories are great but learning is key! Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, one of the most popular cartoon stripes, elaborated very well on this point.
He asks this question, "how can i still win if this is a failure?"
Scott Adams elaborated that even if you fail on the conventional definition by society, you would still win in terms of systems learning - learning how to set up a system of processes AKA business.
If you're into organic body scrub, do show your support and check out Charcoal & Herb
PRICES ARE FROM $250 ONWARDS
The CustomMade Journey
While i might not be considered mega successful in society's definition, i truly enjoy the sense of fulfillment that i can only get from doing something i love. No such thing as Monday Blues!
I would love to share stories and journeys of other people who went forth and carve their own CustomMade journeys.
Do check out these narcissistic rant about my own journey if you enjoy the article.
How An Innocent Comment Changed My Journey From Big 4 Audit To Starting a Shoe Brand