This week’s graduate features a young small-business owner from New York. I met Ian on the internet through mutual acquaintances and I quickly became curious about his company, Slickepott. My curiosity quickly turned to obsession after my first taste of the wonderful, rich, chocolatey goodness. There is even more to Ian Lamont than a mean chocolatier or a shrewd businessman. He also has a keen sense of humor, a shrewd mind, warm friendships, and a passion for God. I know you will enjoy getting to know this homeschool graduate, too.
In 1988, I was born to a wonderful couple of sinners. Both were raised in wholesome, conservative homes where Sunday school and church attendance were mandatory and the name of Christ revered. They considered themselves Christian, but each had adopted unbiblical, yet opposing, worldviews: it was doom and gloom/‘Satan rules’ vs. humanistic faith in the ‘goodness of mankind’. The problem? – neither parent had received daily instruction from God’s Word. Their story, and therefore the framework for my upbringing, was all about coming to a place of awe and respect for the sovereignty of God’s Word and bringing their own lives into compliance. In God’s providence, each of my parents’ worldview has been systematically replaced by an understanding of Christ’s increasingly manifested victory on earth in history, of God’s sovereignty over every aspect of the cosmos, and that the whole law of God still binds the nations and is the rule of faith for each area of life. Miraculously, even before they fully understood the profound practical implications of all of the above, they decided to educate us at home. Thus, without prior experience and with no real strategy for our overall education, my parents focused primarily on teaching us to think God’s thoughts after Him, to process everything in life according to His word, and to recognize that our duty to God would define who we should become. Our daily Bible study was the only inviolable part of our day and we were constantly listening to and discussing sermon tapes. We developed an acute awareness that God had given each of us a unique role to fill in the advancement of His Kingdom, and we understood education to be the process by which we would discover the work that God set aside for us to do.
When I “graduated” from high-school in 2007, although I had many interests and ideas, it was still not clear where the Lord was leading me. Plunging into personal debt or accepting handouts from the government in order to have ‘the college experience’ were not options. A love and respect for entrepreneurialism was instilled in us to the degree that I have always taken it for granted that I will be self-employed and I think of life in those terms. My experience with the inner-workings of a small business began in earnest when my parents started a seasonal concession: every Saturday for the past nine years, May through October, we have packed the car and headed to a regional farmers’ market where we sell coffee, cappuccino, espresso, and authentic Liege-style Belgian Waffles. This has been excellent training in dealing with the public, selling a product, teamwork, etc. So, since the business bug was a preexisting condition and entrepreneurial skills apply to any field I would ultimately enter, we decided that I should start a business of my own as a way to acquire both experience and capital for future endeavors. My parents encouraged me to choose a tried and true product so that I could focus exclusively on the entrepreneurial process. A well-loved chocolate fudge sauce our family had given as Christmas gifts for many years came immediately to my mind, along with a Swedish term my grandmother often used, ‘slickepott’ . Slickepott (pronounced: slick-uh-put) refers to the index finger or a rubber spatula; it can be used as a verb to describe licking something delicious from a bowl, spoon, or beater; and has also been used as an affectionate nickname for ‘the one who licks the bowl’.
Slickepott Fudge Sauce produces a premium-quality chocolate ganache with only six ingredients. It has a velvety smooth texture and rich buttery flavor. Now, I have a busy schedule of food shows, festivals, and farmer’s markets; along with a new website and over a dozen stores carrying Slickepott Fudge Sauce. However, the business is still in its infancy and I look forward to many more opportunities, challenges, failures, and successes. Indeed, the learning has just begun. The greatest lesson so far has been coming to know God’s marvelous grace; how He uses even your mistakes to bless you. I know that it is those times when I need to hand it all over to Him, remember that He is in control, and just rejoice in His mysterious providence.
Developing a business has provided an incredible education with regard to research, production, marketing, accounting etc., but it also facilitated my transition into adulthood; requiring me to expand the boundaries of my knowledge, experience, and application of God’s word as I assumed full responsibility for my business and became more involved with a greater variety of individuals and communities of people. This time in life has been very exciting, but has been challenging as well. When blessed with a strong and close-knit support system, it is easy for us who were home educated to become arrogant and over-confident in our own abilities and accomplishments, like big fish in a little pond. Then, after we get out of that little pond and start seeing truly big fish, we tend to fall into second guessing our own and our parents choices when we encounter obstacles on our less-traveled road. We can never let the world, or even our peers in the church, be the standard against which we measure ourselves or our work, but always look to Christ. It requires close examination of what you believe and why, prayerful and honest evaluation of your walk with the Lord, and habitually testing all things, every day, against God’s word.
So, will I home educate my own children? Absolutely!! Thomas Manton, one of the signatories to the magnificent Westminster Confession of Faith, wrote in 1648, “A family is the seminary for the Church and State…” . Will I do everything the same as my parents? Yes and no. My parents have encouraged us to re-evaluate our education in light of God’s word. I loved my education and would not trade it for anything, but there are things I will do differently. For instance, our strength was also a weakness; we were very flexible and that enabled us to see the world as an exciting place to explore and exposed us to new people and ideas, but it did not establish good organizational or goal setting skills. We jumped at opportunities as they came rather than evaluating if or how they might fit into the bigger picture; we were opportunistic rather than strategic. I want my children to have my love and enthusiasm for learning, and the ability to be flexible…but always with a deliberate, long-sighted approach. Home education is just another form of entrepreneurship and, like all important ventures, needs a good plan.
And now for this week’s “Ask the Grad” Question:
It seems many homeschool graduates become self-employed after graduation, whether or not entrepreneurship was a focus of their studies at home. In your opinion, what is it about home education that uniquely prepares a young person to start their own business?
That is an excellent question. You see, home education and entrepreneurship are inextricably linked. ‘Entrepreneur’ literally means someone who undertakes some task, usually involving a considerable amount of risk and the expectation of making a profit. Now, what task could involve more risk, and yet yield a greater reward than that of assuming responsibility for the souls and minds of the next generation? Thus, all parents who decide to home educate their children are entrepreneurs themselves. So it is only natural that those of us whose parents have taken initiative and rejected the world’s status quo in education would do the same in other spheres of life, particularly when it comes time for us to seek out our God-given callings. A related cause would be the fact that homeschool families are generally looking at the world from outside the popular culture and norms. We always need to be optimistic, tenacious, and resourceful since almost everything we do runs against the grain of society: precisely the qualities required for starting and running a business.
[Now, I didn’t even touch on the large body of evidence which reveals that public schools were purposely designed to cultivate a docile workforce and complacent citizenry. John Taylor Gatto has done a yeoman’s work in documenting this disturbing skeleton in our nation’s closet.]
Hungry for more? Ask Ian your own questions and get to know him better by email at the following address: ian at slickepott dot com (use the correct symbols where appropriate). Don’t forget to check out his website for more information on his product, Slickepott all natural fudge sauce. He even has a facebook fan page for it! Most importantly … head over to the facebook Home Education page to get your coupon code for 20% off your order! Offer good until the end of this year.