Staying afloat financially during a global pandemic has been hard enough. Those of us that have been fortunate to keep working have often done so out of necessity, and if we’re happy, it’s a bigger bonus than any monetary gains. While the security of steady work is a comfort, indeed, what if you need to switch careers during this bizarre era? How about starting a business? There are many reasons for these actions and infinite scenarios due to an individual’s unique circumstances. Let’s take a look at some of those folks that have done just that.
I have now known Mike McMahon(age 48) for nearly two decades. He has been happily married to his wife, Julia, for eighteen years. The couple have a nine year old daughter they are quite proud of as well. I’m very happy that Mike is the subject of this edition of the Pandemic Flip, as it likely will be the final piece in the series. Never Say Never, right Mike? Another Bond reference, you ask? We’ll get to that.
In March of 2020, Mike was laid off from his job as a recruiter. He had been in this profession for 15 years. Between the loss of identity,income, and the expected fear of the unknown, Mike chose to use this situation as an opportunity to home-school his daughter without worrying about the stress of work and the chance to pursue his own business ventures. Mike took the time to explain to me that his family had a large role in his decision.
“After a lot of thought and discussion with my incredibly supportive family, I understood what my next step was going to be. I recently launched a shop in Kelowna called Cheeky Tiki. I carry tiki/tropical related barware, art, home décor and more. I have tiki mugs, cocktail syrups, books, magazines, and even some beauty products. I try to promote local Artists & Artisans as much as I can and am currently carrying work from my wife, who is a local tropical fantasy Artist. Also, cocktail syrups from a new small batch manufacturer via Kamloops, BC and tropical hair masks from a small company in Vancouver.”
Upon discussing his plans and ideas with family, he also visited local retail business owners and picked their brains to learn as much as he could. No stranger to the retail game from his younger years, he capitalized on a program called Community Futures. They provide a course in business and Mike was fortunate to get in. Through the Zoom classes, he was able to meet other up and coming entrepreneurs. Along with the support of his wife, the Community Futures program also continues to provide support and advice for the first year of business. He launched in early March 2021 with online sales and a popup stand in various locations. He was surprised to start getting orders from day one! Yet Mike intends to go further.
“I plan on getting my popup stand around to as many different locations as I can this spring and summer so as many people as possible know who I am and what I have to offer. This is not always an easy thing to do these days but as long as we are all masking up and being careful, I think we will be ok. I also plan on getting more Canadian Artists and Artisans on board. Whether they paint, sculpt, make mugs, syrups, barware or even create music. If it is related to what I am doing I want to promote and support them. Beyond that, I would like to eventually get my own brick & mortar location. We are also going to start making our own in-house tiki mugs, as well as some other goodies as well. Lots more ideas and plans beyond that. As long as I am doing something I love and people like what I am doing, I will keep going and growing.”
It isn’t all business with Mike McMahon, though. He enjoys his family life, music, mixing cocktails, and getting out into the fresh air. “I am an avid home mixologist, I love making cocktails at home. It started out pretty simple; Martinis and Manhattan’s, things like that, but once I got into making tiki drinks, all bets were off. I am now making some of my own syrups and I mix cocktails that can have 8-10 ingredients. I love making drinks for friends and family and am looking forward to being able to do more entertaining at home.
I play a lot of cards and board games with my daughter. We play serious games, and she is serious when she plays, always has been. I never went easy on her or let her win, when she won a game it was because she earned it. Now she’s 9 and can routinely slaughter me at Gin Rummy! In the summer I hike in the mountains and swim in the lake as much as possible. I am lucky enough to live in a place where these things are right outside my door, so I take full advantage whenever I can.”
I’m sorry to have made you wait so long for the explanation to my earlier 007 references, but exotic rum drinks and the ingredients to these potent potions aren’t the only things that were cooked up. “I took some time for myself every day last summer and decided to try to write. I finished a book, more of a novella I guess, but I did it. I wrote a James Bond story and after some bumps along the way, trying to get it edited properly etc, it is finally almost ready to go out into the world. My wife is designing the cover, and once that’s done, I will put the book out there and hope for the best.” In fact, as of this writing, the book is completed!
Along with the writing of Ian Fleming, he is also a great fan of the Matt Helm book series, which are a far cry from the often campy Dean Martin films. “My musical taste is pretty varied and on any given day I can listen to stuff from the 1930’s to today. I use music to set the mood, and a few of the songs I have used as solace during some of the more stressful moments of the last year are “Akaka Falls” by Arthur Lyman, “Jellyfish” by Kenny Sasaki & The Tiki Boys and “Into Vienna” by the John Barry Orchestra. Each of these songs has the ability to transport me to another time and place.
What makes Mike’s story utterly remarkable, is that he realized that he had no options. He didn’t have a job he was scared to leave as his entire career was gone. He decided to do something different and that was creating his own business. He also offers these words of encouragement; “I would tell anyone that happiness and peace of mind are vitally important. We all deserve to be happy, and we should all be able to wake up in the morning and not dread going to work. If you have a dream or an idea, or just want to make a change, take it seriously. Talk to people, investigate it, and do not ever be afraid of failure. As my daughter likes to remind me, “fail stands for First Attempt In Learning.”
To check out Mike’s shop firsthand, you may find him at at www.cheekytikishop.com, my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Cheekytikishop, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/cheekytikishop. For the James Bond aficionados, Mike’s original 007 story “No More Promises” can be read in its entirety at https://www.wattpad.com/story/266438926-james-bond-007-no-more-promises
Thank you for sharing your story, MIke. You’ve given hope and inspiration to anyone who wishes to take that leap into their next career adventure!