Thursday, March 31, 2011

Business and Politics

Hypocrisy or ethics?

Remember my do-good / feel-good rant the other day, which subsequently was taken down for personal reasons? I went on and on about contributing to charities and good causes and such? I wrote about how it made me feel at peace and happy for being able to help those who come to me for help?

Today, my friend "L" contacted me about some cupcakes for a very high-end bake sale she was putting together for a friend. She wasn't even asking for them outright for free. She was willing to pay a fair amount and get my company name out there. She wanted to hook me up with free labels and packaging. She wanted to give me the name of a trademark lawyer, a guy she used to date, who would be more than happy to get my business registered and legit. Why so generous?

Because the fundraiser was for a Republican "group", she said she wasn't at liberty to discuss it in detail until much closer to the event. Several big names were thrown at me, none of which are heroes of mine by any means. I'm not exactly sure what this money is being raised for specifically, but I had the notion that it was going towards a political party that I do not support, believe in, or want associated with me or my business.

The Golden Carrot she dangled in front of me was tempting. I know this girl through other people, and she seemed to like me because of what I do; the cake thing. Out of 800 or so of her social network friends, she shoots me a comment, a "Like", and the occasional chat or message at least a couple times a week. We have run into each other at a couple of social functions the last couple of months, but we are not besties in any sense of the word. She's a connector. She's the girl you want to know if you need an introduction to the right kind of people. She's at all the right parties, eats at all the right places, works all the right media outlets (as her job), and has a pleasant enough disposition for you to not hate her guts out of pure jealousy. I like her. I think she's cool. She's got the perfect personality to fit the job of "knowing" people.

The revenue I would have brought in with her offer was tempting. 500 cupcakes is no small feet. I would have had to hire help on this one, and even with that, the payoff of getting Queenie Cakes legit is worth more than the cash we discussed. Something was nagging at me, though. Something didn't sit well in my stomach.

Understood, I would be selling her cupcakes at a huge discount so that she can turn around and sell them for a huge amount of money for her fundraiser. As a favor to me for working this fundraiser and cutting my profit margin for the sake of the cause, she would hook me up with the right people to help me out. However, the money she would be making with my help would be funding a group that I detest wholeheartedly. I'm not going into politics on this blog. I believe everyone has a right to believe in whatever the hell they want without the fear of other people shitting on them for it.

I may not agree, and I may roll my eyes, and I may mutter my disgust with like-minded individuals, but I will not stand in the way of the backwards or obtuse views of others. It's their right, such as it's mine to disagree. However, the idea that I was whoring out my wares for a favor made me feel like I was signing a contract with the devil. Would I ever want to admit that Queenie Cakes got it's start with "seed" money that originated by helping out this political group that I never want to be a part of? (I know I said I didn't want to name names, but Christ almighty, Sarah Palin was whispered as if it was supposed to impress me. I have no clue what capacity her role was for this fundraising, but if the object of the name-drop was to impress me, the results couldn't have been more opposite.)

I thought about this. Honestly, I didn't think too long. I knew I didn't want to do this. I knew it would take a lot of work, days off from my day job, and producing a product that would cost me more money to make than I was charging for the "cost" of it, and all for a cause that I heartily disagree with.

I wrote her back that I had orders booked that week and that weekend. (This is true, but they are not so huge that I had to cancel them for this.) I said that job actually seemed a lot bigger than what I can realistically handle right now at the size of my operation. I said I didn't want to agree to a job that I knew I wasn't capable of handling properly, and she should probably contact a baker who will give her a product she can make the most money with. "L" tried to talk me out of it, tried to cut it down to 250 cupcakes instead, and wanted to give me her contacts in Long Island City for some small communal kitchen space I can rent for a few days. She would expense it herself. However, I told her it wouldn't solve the problem I had with orders I already booked. She said she understood. To make matters worse, she even praised me for being so loyal to my customers and not dropping their orders for a bigger fish. Oh, if only she knew....

I just couldn't wrap my head around the cause. I just couldn't get behind it. I've donated to diabetes, autism, march of dimes, domestic violence, sick children, breast cancer, education in Bangladesh, etc....and not all of  these causes were dear to my heart, but someone needed my help and I was able to give it. That was payment enough. In this case, something inside me just refused to make it that simple, all because of the politics behind it.

Am I wrong? Did I just make a huge mistake in the name of political differences? Is my soapbox so firmly stuck to the ground that I can't see the bigger picture around me?

I think business-wise, I made a mistake. Unfortunately, I am not driven by money and rapid growth. I have to love what I'm doing. I have to believe in my actions. If I can't look in the mirror at the end of the day, is it worth gilding my baking enterprise just for the sake of being a bonafide presence?

My baby may be small for it's age, but it's chugging along nicely. It may take me a little longer to get where I'm going, but when I get there I won't look back and feel ashamed by the hands that helped me along the way.

I'm sorry, L. Love you, but hate the cause. No hard feelings?

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