Still here, Still alive: Out of Thin Air

Still here, still alive: Out of Thin Air (

Leica M4 - Portra 400 + 2

It’s been nearly 2 years since this pandemic started, and a lot has changed since then. More people have transitioned and left their 9-5 to start their own business. Many others have learned to set boundaries at the workplace and at home and create personal routines to maintain their mental health. But a lot of work-from-home entrepreneurs are also discovering that working for yourself diminishes the balance between the home and work life; don’t underestimate the amount of time and mental capacity that are demanded from you to make sure your business survives, and even more if it’s becoming a success. 

It’s a wonder how some business owners haven’t lost themselves through the thick of it all.

I recently came across a baker through mutual friends named Alessandro Jang. I’ve gotten to witness his growth this past year, hear his stories, and experience the various delicious breads he makes. I can tell you that his bread is amazing, and his pop-ups across Los Angeles shows how much the community loves what he made. 

Alessandro Jang is the baker and owner of Out of Thin Air ( Oota is a home bread studio that focuses on low and slow fermented sourdough bread. Alessandro’s passion for food sprouted from a rehab center’s kitchen in the heart of Los Angeles. After a decade of battling drug addiction, he found recovery by serving his community through food. During the pandemic, he began baking sourdough bread to comfort friends and family. What was a simple act of love soon turned into a vision. Today he makes and sells a variety of loaves available at the LA River farmers market and other coffee shops throughout LA. He is currently working to expand into a shared kitchen space with larger equipment to cater to rising demands, so be on the lookout. 

What kind of burnout did you experience during your time developing Outofthinair during the pandemic? How do you cope with a workload as large as yours with a tight deadline?

When I first ventured into this business affair, I knew hard times were ahead of me. Of all the small business owners I consulted, there was but none that was waltzing through his/her work. They were all giving me warnings, concern, and care as if they were counseling the future me. So as I moved forward with the decision to start Oota, I told myself that I was going to work as hard as I could in order to test my limits. My thought was that once I hit my threshold I can then tone it down a bit, but this experiment definitely came at a cost. Work led to more opportunities which led to more work and next thing I know, I didn’t have time for family, friends, and my service work. Then I saw I was stressed all the time and unhappy with what I love to do but it wasn’t until I started making amateur mistakes around the bakery that I was able to snap out of this work/self centered tunnel vision. I’m a recovering addict so I have an inkling towards very addictive behaviors. My disease takes perfectly healthy feelings like ‘the desire to support my family’ and shoots it up with steroids and those feelings mutate into urgent nightmares. What was once something enjoyable became an obsession and in turn I lost sight of my vision. I lost sight of the power that gave me the vision to start in the first place. I burned out.

To me burn outs don’t stem from only a lack of physical capability, but from the lack of spirit. Somewhere along my journey I lost the spirit and replaced it with self centered ideas of whatever this business would accomplish for me. Not to say ambitions are bad but to me, it’s never worth losing my inner sanctuary. A place I can’t enter without demolishing my self centeredness. A place where the spirit dwells and life flows from. A place that’s nobody’s business, but it’s between me and God. My secret.

I’m grateful for this burn out because I had time to really ask myself what I’m really working for. Like what’s the spirit driving my decisions. After all what’s the point of running a business if my wife doesn’t want me around because I’m just a little ball of stress? Or if I’m too busy for my friends and church. Or if I’m just hitting up people because we need something from each other. I’m learning to recalibrate my work/life balance at a new stage of my life. I’m reprioritizing my schedule and making room for my inner sanctuary. Today my workload hasn’t changed, in fact I’ve gotten busier. But slowly my circumstances aren’t defining my state of being anymore, instead what is inside of me is defining my circumstances.


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