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I opened my dream business—so why was I miserable?


Jamie Graber Gingersnap's Pin It
Photo: A Wild Dove
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When Gingersnap’s Organic closed up shop in January, it broke (healthy) hearts across New York City—most of all owner Jamie Graber’s. But not for the reasons you may think. Here, the woman behind the cult fave West Village raw food and juice bar tells her side of the story—and talks about how to know when to walk away from something that was everything you ever wanted.

If a year ago someone told me that I would walk away from my dream-come-true business serving raw, plant-based, healing food to New York City’s West Village, I would have politely ignored them. In fact, I probably would have thought they were crazy.

This is the part no one told me about going after my dreams: that it’s okay to let them go as well.

And yet, here I am. I let go of my dream earlier this year—the one I’d worked for years to achieve, and even more years to sustain. And, yes, I mourned it. But how do I really feel? Surprisingly, I’m more optimistic and excited about the future than ever.

This is the part no one told me about going after my dreams: that it’s okay to let them go as well.

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jamie graber gingersnap's organic
Photo: Jay Peeples

But “year ago” me would never have believed it. Back then, I knew exactly what my path was and there was no way for it to be different. I was the owner of Gingersnap’s Organic, a successful cleanse company and cafe that ruled my entire life. As far as I was concerned, I had arrived—and it was all about keeping it going. My day-to-day was going to remain exactly as it always was, constantly solving problems and never getting to exhale.

It’s no shocker to hear that running a restaurant, especially in Manhattan, is hard. There are slim margins and lots of chaos. One thing you can count on: Every day you’ll be faced with a new problem to solve. It can be as small as running out of an item or as large as “oh crap, the juicer isn’t working!” Either way, I’ve been the one solving each and every one of those problems for over six years straight—and frankly, I’m tired.

When trying to figure out where I go from here, I had a few choices. I could continue with Gingersnap’s Organic and just accept it as my life, or I could have someone else run it. Neither of those sounded right, so I continued to search for a way out of this feeling. Then I went to a workshop about manifestation, and that’s when things started to change.

I was so afraid to lose my identity as a business owner that I was blocking myself from getting clear on what my purpose truly is.

I signed up for a one-on-one session and that decision forever changed my reality. In my first-time session with Lacy Phillips, she asked me an important question: “What if your purpose isn’t Gingersnap’s? What if that’s not it?” For a few months, I couldn’t stop hearing her saying it.

I had this dream job, but I would wake up each day in anxiety. I would say to my husband often, “I’m managing employees and vendors instead of healing people. And I just don’t want to do it.”

Finally, I realized: I could choose to continue down the path of frustration and non-fulfillment, or I could turn left into happiness and inspiration. I chose to make the left.

And so the doors of Gingersnap’s Organic closed at the end January, and I’m excited to say I have never felt as fulfilled as I am now. I was so afraid to lose my identity as a business owner that I was blocking myself from getting clear on what my purpose truly is.

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Jamie Graber Gingersnap's Organics
Photo: A Wild Dove

Throughout the years, I had spent many days at Gingersnap’s connecting with my customers, talking them through their struggles with food, relationships, and just general how to find happiness in the despair. I have been asked to coach, do relationship therapy, give cooking lessons, speak at events, but I rarely had time to say yes. A while back, I started to accept a small number of clients and worked with them in the few hours I had away from the cafe.

The more time I spent with them, the more I lit up. It opened me up to how I truly can serve people in the best way possible. The truth is, I didn’t open Gingersnap’s because I wanted a restaurant; I wanted to heal people and create community—and in the next phase [I] can do that on an even more grand scale. Right now, that’s through life coaching and creating events where I get to share what I’ve learned about turning obstacles into opportunities.

Every struggle can be met with opportunity, as long as you’re able to see it.

So, should you quit your job, leave your husband, or move across the world on a whim? I am in no way advocating that. But I am saying that every struggle can be met with opportunity, as long as you’re able to see it. It’s important to allow yourself to step away from something that’s no longer serving you, even when you’re afraid.

As Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

Finding Peace in a Turbulent Time, with Jamie Graber and Anne Marie Imperiale; three-part program: 7–9 p.m. March 20, March 27, and April 3; New York City (address provided upon registration); $199; organicallyjamie.com  

If you’re launching a new endeavor of your own, a new moon ritual couldn’t hurt, right? And hey, why not consult your energy horoscope while you’re at it….