Hidden Gem: Eggroll Lady & Fish Shack

Visiting the Eggroll Lady for lunch or dinner is like dropping by your grandmother’s house — it’s filled with laughter, comfort food and tradition. The sweet (egg roll) lady in the kitchen doesn’t worry about how much money she makes, but instead focuses on the quality of her foods and the love with which she makes them. Giselle Rivera-Flores takes a closer look.

A Mother’s Journey [Part 34]: The gift of reflection

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

The holidays are officially here, and while many people are out enjoying their gift shopping and hot cocoa sipping, maybe even relaxing by the fireplace after a long day at work, I am frantically wondering, “How the hell am I going to get this all done?”

Work has become life. It gets harder and harder to turn off that Woopreneur switch inside. Finding a balance between work and life has been a struggle from the beginning of this journey, and while I often do well fitting both business and leisure time into my day, it’s becoming increasingly hard to do.

The struggle, though, helps remind me that above all, family comes first. I try to remember that to achieve professionally, we must achieve personally. Creating memories and building upon the foundations of what is important to our family is an essential part of happy success.

Considering the time of year, I want to give my fellow entrepreneurs some friendly advice about surviving the holidays and getting work done before it’s time to put on that ugly sweater.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The original Woopreneur, or scroll down to explore more of her story

A Mother’s Journey [Part 33]: The original ‘Woopreneur’

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

When people find themselves pulled in a million directions, it is often difficult to stop for a moment and reflect on your journey. When you have your eye on the prize, nothing else matters.

Lack of sleep and tough-to-navigate schedules become part of the plan. Eventually, it feels natural. People ask me for advice all the time. They ask about the nitty gritty of social media and marketing, but the question I’m asked most often is, “How do you have time for everything?”

Although from the outside looking in this all seems like organized chaos, the answer is simple:

This is my life.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter: The network effect Or scroll down for more

Hidden Gem: Uncle Jay’s Twisted Fork

When he is in full-blown chef mode, Jay Powell can be heard from the kitchen — yelling out specials and giving shoutouts to his patrons, making sure everyone knows they are appreciated.

And when his business, Uncle Jay’s Twisted Fork bistro, closes for a week, everyone notices that, too.

Nestled in the Cherry Valley section of Leicester, the Twisted Fork stands as a local staple known for its authentic hollandaise sauce, eggs Benedict and outspoken chef. But when the doors stay shut for too long, regulars are left wondering why.

Chef Jay Powell, center, and his teammates at the recent 2016 World Food Championships in Alabama.

Courtesy Jay Powell / Facebook

Chef Jay Powell, center, and his teammates at the recent 2016 World Food Championships in Alabama.

“My hiatus a few weeks back was for good reason,” explains Powell, Twisted Fork’s owner and chef. “I was in Orange Beach, Alabama, participating in the World Food Championships event and it was great. The chef who initially beat me in [Food Network’s] ‘Cooks vs. Cons,’ Chef Vita Jarrin, called me to set up as teammates for the recipe challenge.”

“The best part was that the recipe category was focused on Benedicts!”

A Mother’s Journey [Part 32]: The network effect

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Nothing fully prepares you for the moment you decide to dive into entrepreneurial waters.

The timing is never right, the finances are never secure, and the ideas never seem solid enough. The constant struggle between confidence and insecurity is but one of many battles faced on a daily basis. To me, a real entrepreneur is never satisfied, never fully impressed with herself or her progress. We are in a constant state of change. Molding our brands and expanding our companies, all while never truly feeling completely accomplished.

I struggle with these ideas, with what it means to be an entrepreneur. Am I deserving of the title? I am always contradicting myself: One day I might feel like a failure, and the next day I feel like this is exactly where I should be. But as I meet more and more entrepreneurs, artists, makers and developers, I realize that these unbalanced feelings are incredibly normal. They are the feelings that fuel innovation and creation.

Launching the Social Media Insiders networking event last week was an eye-opener. Convening more than 40 entrepreneurs allowed me to understand that these inner struggles are normal — and needed. They are keeping me on track and focused on the big picture, yet keeping me humble enough to feel that my brand needs work.


Catch up with Giselle’s most recent chapter, The picture of serenity?, or scroll down for more inspiring installments


Hidden Gem: Eggroll Lady & Fish Shack

While the city of Worcester is experiencing a food renaissance with the addition of several high-end and trendy restaurants over the past year, there is something to be said for the places that have held their ground away from the spotlight of revitalization.

The places in the corners of the city that feel a little like home. Eggroll Lady & Fish Shack, at 609 West Boylston St., is one of them.

eggrolllady_main

Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

Phuong Lam, the Eggroll Lady

Visiting the Eggroll Lady for lunch or dinner is like dropping by your grandmother’s house — it’s filled with laughter, comfort food and tradition. The sweet (egg roll) lady in the kitchen doesn’t worry about how much money she makes, but instead focuses on the quality of her foods and the love with which she makes them.

“When I started this, it wasn’t about making money. I wanted to do this because it was my way of communicating my traditions and my gratitude to the people of America that welcomed me when I arrived here. This is my way of showing my appreciation,” said Phuong Lam, the Eggroll Lady herself and the shop’s owner.

A Mother’s Journey [Part 31]: The picture of serenity?

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January 2016 but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Days have never been longer. Managing my time has become a second job of its own the last year and a half. I continue to build The Learning Hub, but also stay involved in myriad other projects as my devotion to the writing, education and entrepreneurial worlds strengthens.

Balancing life and work is exhausting. Calendar updates, alert reminders and last-minute reschedules tangle my day into a web of organized chaos. By the end of it all, I have not only worked on keeping the momentum of the Hub strong, but I have also worked on my husband’s photography business, Brooklyn and Evian’s homeschool classes, and the hundred other side projects keeping me busy from morning to night.

In a city filled with inspiring stories and untapped markets in need of innovation, being an entrepreneur is the greatest gift anyone can give to themselves. Working for yourself or building a brand is not a task for the faint at heart. It is not just for the “visionaries” — a term that seems to flood the pages of “behind the computer” entrepreneurs on Linkedin, and one that I despise more than any other English word.


Catch up with Giselle’s most recent chapter, The movement keeps moving, or scroll down for more inspiring installments


A Mother’s Journey [Part 30]: The movement keeps moving

Editor’s note: Since last September, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

The maker movement is built on an emphasis of learning through doing.

It is a culture of learning through exploration, self-fulfillment and discovering personal learning styles. It is a movement that caters to all students and increases their interests by allowing them autonomy to be creative. Through 2016, it seems the maker movement has expanded even further and become a new trend unto itself, despite its theories being supported as far back as the 1970s.

Tutoring centers like Sylvan Learning and Kumon are jumping aboard the movement and hosting maker classes as part of their curriculum — but not because of the decades of studies that have concluded this method is the most effective for teaching a large population of students. Instead these classes are integrated because they’re trendy.

While trends allow businesses to enjoy their slice of the market and “get in while it’s hot,” trends don’t always translate to the best quality of services or products for consumers. The maker movement is no different. While there are several maker classes held across the nation, many do not hold true to the original form of maker learning.

A maker class allows for different students from various backgrounds and academic experiences, even various ages and learning styles, to come together and use those differences during their exploration. Students are not to adhere to step-by-step instruction on how to create, but instead should be given the tools for creation with little instruction.


Catch up with Giselle’s most recent chapter, The girls are all right, or scroll down to begin from earlier in her inspiring journey


A Mother’s Journey [Part 29]: The girls are all right

Editor’s note: Since last September, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

On my toughest days, when my schedule is cramped together to make room for additional meetings, interviews with new libraries interested in The Learning Hub’s services, writing assignments and, of course, hosting maker classes, I always set aside the first four hours of the day for homeschooling.

Since the start of the 2016 academic year both Brooklyn, my oldest, and Evian have been enrolled in TEC Connections Academy Commonwealth Virtual School, and it has been a blessing. TECCA, as it’s known, is a state-approved, K-12 online school that adheres to public school standards — but, for me, its methods and mission are far beyond what I’ve experienced in the average local school.

TECCA’s staff strive to create a school that caters to all learning styles, giving kids the options to participate in additional elective classes based on their preferences and likes. Brook has already begun an independent reading course with an online teacher to help with her reading comprehension. I begged Worcester Public Schools for more than four years for this type of help. It was never available.

Evian, left, and Brooklyn are enjoying their new learning environment.

Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

Evian, left, and Brooklyn are enjoying their new learning environment.


Catch up with Giselle’s most recent chapter, The great debate, or scroll down to begin from earlier in her inspiring journey


A Mother’s Journey [Part 28]: The great debate

Editor’s note: Since last September, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

William Shakespeare might have been a fan of The Learning Hub. Among the many things he’s remembered for writing or saying was this nugget: “to climb steep hills requires slow pace at first.” That is how The Learning Hub intends to grow. Not all at once, but with each step.

While I feel The Hub has an immense level of potential to skyrocket, I continue to promote our brand and work steadily to make it more about quality than quantity. At first, anyway. Like the nature vs. nurture debate, the quality vs. quantity question has been held as a pivotal point in determining the early success of a business.

Many argue for better quality — to me, pushing out bad material, products or services into the market is uncalled for — while others support the notion that quantity — or market share — is the biggest component of success. Promotion, promotion, promotion! Putting your business out for the world to see is said to be the most effective way of launching a successful venture.


Catch up with Giselle’s most recent chapter, The Book of Hub, or scroll down to begin from earlier in her inspiring quest.