The saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” seems easy until you’re faced with exactly that prospect. For those Americans who are too young to have experienced the Great Depression, the economic outlook may never have seemed quite as sour as now. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics listing the national unemployment rate at 10.2 percent nationwide, and 15.7 percent for blacks — there are lots of lemons to go around.
Yet in the face of such bitter circumstances, some of the unemployed are turning their layoffs into opportunities.
Last October, Tommy Venerable of Washington, D.C., found himself out of a job as a graphic Web designer, a position he’d held for five years. With some 14 years of experience in the industry, Venerable initially thought it would be easy for him to find another job.
“I kept getting rejections,” he said. “I kept getting, ‘Do you have a four-year B.A. in graphic art?’ And I’m like, ‘No, I don’t have a college degree — don’t have a college degree in graphic art; don’t have a college degree in anything.’ So after about two weeks, that’s when I really started to panic.”
Venerable’s company had given him a severance package, but those funds were drying up. In need of a new source of income, he found inspiration in an unusual place for a graphic Web designer.
“I’m at the grocery store,” he said, “and I wanted to get tortilla chips and salsa and I could not find a salsa that I liked. And that’s when the light bulb went off in my head.”
Not long thereafter, Venerable whipped up Tommy V’s Salsa and formed his own company, Tommy V Foods, LLC. He ran into some road bumps along the way, getting the proper permits. But he got them and started selling his salsa at a farmer’s market this past June.