The Closing Doors

The+Closing+Doors

Sofia Mora , 2017 Alumnus

For a long time now, I have strongly believed that leading a healthy life ultimately lies in the way we nourish our mind and body. This is why it became my dream to have my own place through which I could communicate and show as many people as possible not just the power of healthy eating, but how a healthier lifestyle goes way beyond that. 

Our story starts in 2019, when Cristina Sierra, one of my best friends from school, and I started casually talking about how we would love to have our own business. This casual talk rapidly turned to us brainstorming in a Google Document specifically dedicated to business ideas, needs, opportunities, etc. All of a sudden, inspired by the thrill of this new project, we had an idea… we would open a healthy smoothie shack. 

In the months before this conversation, I had visited the recently opened Viva Envigado mall and fallen in love with the most delicious smoothie bowls; Olas Bowls. Naturally, I told Cristina about it as a reference, to which she responded: “We should call them and ask them if they might be selling the brand.” Magically, it turned out the owner was looking for new business partners and wanted to move the business from Viva Envigado to Provenza in Medellin, wanting to be located in the “place to be” in for foreigners in Medellin. 

From then on, everything happened really fast. Our families were supportive of this dream since day one, which is something I could never thank them enough for. Cristina and I became business partners with the previous owner, Stephanie, and started to renew the brand to make it what we dreamed it could be, all while looking for places in Provenza that we could rent and remodel. After approximately six months of planning, we finally found the perfect place and opened Olas Bowls in Provenza in January 2020. I can honestly say that this was one of the happiest moments of my life because when we saw all our hard work come to life, it was invaluable. 

We quickly learned one of the most general, but valuable lessons of this whole process: starting a business is hard… very hard. Even though we had trained and planned everything in detail with our employees, our first week was chaotic. Our processes were slow, the kitchen was noisy and we lost potential customers due to the low rotation of tables we were having.  Nevertheless, we quickly figured everything out on the go and greatly improved our processing times. However, those first weeks were difficult as we were constantly making mistakes, learning from them, and improving. I truly cannot put into words the many emotions one feels when embarking on a project of this kind: a rush of excitement, fear, uncertainty, pride, and many other emotions I wake up with, even today. 

To this day, the challenges have never stopped. Making mistakes on tax payments,  learning how to measure our public service consumption, getting insulted by angry customers, learning about having your own employees, and thinking we had lost all the money made in a day, are just some of the most memorable ones. Even so, while writing this I remember all these moments with a smile on my face, because even though at the time they seemed hard, or even impossible, I think I have never learned as much in such a short period of time or have been as joyful.  

Unfortunately, this story ends on a sad note. Amongst all the roadblocks we faced, the largest and last of them was the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, when lockdowns started to be implemented and many restaurants started closing, we decided to keep going, even though at our worst time we were operating at less than 40% than we usually did. We kept going for nine months in the hope that things would be better soon, but regrettably, we decided to close Olas Bowls three weeks ago, at the end of January 2021, after realizing that the effects of this crisis are far from over. It became entirely unsustainable for us to continue pursuing this dream. 

These are sorrowful news, but I feel an immense appreciation for the opportunity life gave me to have this amazing experience. I met remarkable human beings,  was reminded of what incredible friends and family I have, who supported us through it all, and most importantly, I grew so much.  This piece of our lives is coming to an end, but I believe when one door closes, many others open.