What Ms. Julie Wishes She Knew
Starting a business can be hard work, but fortunately for us, Akropreneurs are always willing to share their insights.
Name: Julie Costell
Occupation: Owner of Ms. Julie’s Kitchen, located in Firestone Park
Hometown: Merriman Valley
Current neighborhood: Summit Lake
How did you get into the work you do?
I got sick and had heart problems and felt terrible and was overweight and on my way to diabetes and heart disease and decided I might not want to do that. So I fixed it. My mom had gone vegan about a year prior and had gotten better from ulcers and bladder infections and was, like, laughing at me and yelling at me, and I was miserable and hurting. She was more preaching at me than anything. Who wants to listen to their mother, you know? So I didn’t. And I had a catering business, and I was cooking for everybody, and I was eating party food all day. So, I just listened to my mother, and for the first time in my life, I started eating better and exercising and [getting] fresh air and sunshine and good water and food and all of that.
What do you wish you knew when you got started?
Accounting. IRS rules and laws and things that can get you in trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing. I learned that accountants work for you, you don’t work for the accountant. I thought they were just going to tell me what I had to do, but they didn’t. And so I didn’t do things that I didn’t know I had to do until the IRS told me I had to do them, and then I had to play catch up. It was a little scary. I never got into any trouble or anything, but $100 here, $50 there, it adds up. It’s just that you don’t know. I thought I was just going to cook and feed people and put the money in the bank and, like, live happily ever after. I didn’t know they were going to take a lot of it and in all different manners and ways. It makes it a lot harder because you think you’re making money and then all of a sudden you realize you owe somebody $1,300 that you didn’t know you owed them. So accounting and IRS-ing. And I’m not sure anybody can understand all that heading in unless you really are an accountant.
What are you glad you didn’t know?
That my body would yell at me for working so hard for so many years. I thought my body was invincible because I was healthy, and I was vegan, and I was strong, and I was a farmer and a Tennis coach, and the next thing I knew I broke my leg and it was over. You know? So I wish I knew how to pace myself back then instead of clearing all these different city lots and digging out driveways and digging out basement foundations and car parts and just things that I did that maybe I could have hired somebody to do if I had money or maybe not done it all. Did I really have to dig up that land? Did I really have to do that by hand? So there’s things I look back on that were back breaking and things that I did that seemed like a great idea at the time, but had I paced myself, maybe it would have been better. I’ve always been very physical and active, but I wish I would have paced myself over the last 40 years, 30 years at least, instead of trying to be 16 years old for 30 years. This isn’t a desk job, so I’m up all day every day. And then I go dig holes in my gardens.
What are some of the best lessons—in business or in life—that you’ve learned from being your own boss?
I like my freedom but sometimes I don’t get to have it because I have to do businesses first. I don’t get to just take off a day and call in sick, I don’t get to do that, but at the same time, if I plan it strategically enough, sometimes I can get away or do something fun, as long as I have good help. Also, be nice to people. Love people before you love your money.
(Photo of Julie courtesy of Julie Costell)