We had the good fortune of connecting with Grace Cho and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Grace, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I wouldn’t be an entrepreneur if I didn’t take risks. Being an entrepreneur is all about taking risks. Taking risks has helped build my confidence, have a voice and take action whether personally or professionally. Taking risks comes with lots of challenges; it pushes you out of your comfort zone and gets you through the tough times.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
BUSINESS: I’m the owner of PlanADayOut. PlanADayOut has been around since 2012 and I acquired the business in the Fall of 2019. PlanADayOut.com helps parents find kid-friendly activities and events to do in Orange County. Our website hosts 5K+ listings and continues to grow each year. We are most proud of not only helping our parent community but our local businesses. We provide our parent community daily activities and events they can consider going to with their kids, and the listings help bring awareness to the local businesses all around Orange County. What sets us apart is that we are genuinely connected to our community. We’ve been around for eight years and built the foundation and relationships with parents and local cities by providing fun activities for families.
HOW DID I GET HERE BUSINESS-WISE: My career has been in digital advertising. I worked for several different digital advertising agencies, moving up in position and pay, but I felt something was missing. I realized I ultimately wanted to start my own business, be my own boss, work with talented people who I hired, and have some fun. But it was only when I became a mama did the idea of what I really wanted to do come clear. Interestingly, it was my hairdresser who helped seal the deal! She’s a cool hip mom of four girls who’s in the know, and she knew I wanted to leave the corporate world. At one of my hair appointments, I was sharing some business ideas with her and she gleefully mentioned a similar business started by a mom entrepreneur called PlanADayOut. The owner was looking to start a new chapter in her life and was thinking of ending the business. I had heard about the company in my earlier research and decided to DM the owner. What did I have to lose, right? After a few text messages, phone calls, and in-person meetings to work through the details and the transition plan, I acquired PlanADayOut; I didn’t realize it at the time, but I wasn’t far from where I had been wanting to be.
LESSONS LEARNED ALONG THE WAY: Everything that I learned from my career and life experience is that nothing is ever easy (smile emoji face). Acquiring a business is no easier than starting a business from scratch. The transition is never smooth. The work to migrate from one site to another is always much larger than scoped. Finding the right resources can be tricky even if they’re referred. And there’s usually a number of unknowns that pop up along the way, too – like an international pandemic, for example. That’s right, once I had the site migration, and the operations and sales figured out, Covid-19 hits. And when your company’s business model is centered around children’s activities and events, you’re forced to take a step back. What worked the last eight years might not work anymore, so you have to reflect and make changes. The word “pivot” has become my new best friend. I continue to remind myself to be patient, to keep striving and keep close to my supportive network, but I’m human and I do fall between the cracks at times.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Since I live in Orange County my recommendations will be around the immediate area. The best part of visiting Orange County is that the weather is typically warm and sunny. There’s plenty of outdoor activities and places to eat. There are pockets of neighborhoods throughout the city that are unique on their own. My morning recommendation would be to start the day with a simple but delicious coffee at Common Room Roasters and head down the street to SideCar Doughnuts for a fresh Huckleberry doughnut. And then burn off a few morning calories by taking a walk or a bike ride along the Back Bay. The fresh air and scenic route along the bay is super relaxing. While visiting Newport Beach a Duffy boat ride along Balboa island is a must. It’s incredible to see the sail boats and amazing homes that run along the island. I like to bring some light snacks and beverages to enjoy the scenery. Looking to have a chill evening, the Cannery has a nice happy hour and sushi bar. The jellyfish decor in the upstairs bar adds a touch of sea life to the atmosphere.
For a fun day trip, head to the Balboa Fun Zone and hop on a boat ride to Catalina island. Once there you can walk around by foot or rent a golf cart. Hangout at Descanso beach for some sun or for something more active take up a zip line trip around the island. Brunch is one of my favorite things to do with my girlfriends. My go to spot is Malibu Farms at Lido Marina Village. It’s modern and has a chic cozy ambience that overlooks the marina. They have amazing cocktails and a yummy menu.
For a fun casual evening out, Lido House rooftop lounge has an incredible view and good people watching. Cross over to Costa Mesa and get a taste of the urban side of Orange County. There’s a small brew house community that’s popped up in the neighborhood. Salty Bear is one and their IPA’s are refreshing. The brewery is caddy corner from The Camp which hosts a mix of restaurants – you can order from there and walk it over to Salty Bear to eat. Two of my favorite restaurants is Native Foods and East Borough. Native Foods menu is vegan inspired – their native nachos are fresh and to die for. East Borough serves the best banh mi grilled pork sandwiches. South of Newport, there’s a quaint little town called Corona del Mar that has some cool beach spots, hikes and restaurants. Little Corona beach is a local favorite that’s nestled within the neighborhood. Or looking for get some fresh air – take a short hike up Buck Gully Reserve.
There’s lots of good local restaurants two of my go to spots is Bandera and Pirozzi. Bandera has an amazing Macho Salad mixed with goat cheese, dates and fresh baked cornbread croutons. They have a fun horse shoe bar that serves special housemade cocktails. Further south along Pacific Coast Highway is Crystal Cove. It’s an amazing moderate hike that overlooks Newport and Laguna beach. There’s a restaurant right on the beach called Beach Comber; they serve American style food and have lots of yummy beverages. Take a day trip to Laguna Beach.and hike Around the World or enjoy 1000 steps beach. Laguna is an eclectic art community with a number of local galleries. Decide to have a more leisure day, take a walk along the main street and check out the galleries and grab a bit to eat at one of the local restaurants. A few of my favorites’ is Nicks, Urth Caffe and the Deck. To round out the trip, check out Pacific City in Huntington Beach. Pacific City is a newish outdoor shopping center with lots of fun stores, restaurants and a great view of Huntington Beach. For the last evening out head to Bungalow a cool, hip spot for a few happy hour cocktails and walk over to Paseo and watch the sunset while having dinner on the patio.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to the PlanADayOut team. Without them PlanADayOut wouldn’t have evolved into what it is today. There are many talented people but to find the right combination in each individual and then to bring them all together is not an easy feat. Talent in your skill set is one achievement but to find people who believe in the same vision, has that unspoken passion, motivation and humor is unique.