February 7, 2017 at 12:47 pm #197
Lesley, it is so lovely to once again have an online business journal. I’ve missed such a thing. In all the many online business groups we’ve been involved with, the journals have been one of my favorite things…one of the most valuable things. : )
Where to begin? I guess, I shall begin right where I’m at….
Early last week, I finished my inventory, tidied up QB, and cleaned up my terribly messy little studio. There must have been at least a full teapot’s worth of tea leaves on the floor. Now, I’m deep into pondering so many things; which of my offerings are selling, which give me pleasure, what might I discontinue, change, or add.
(to be continued….)February 7, 2017 at 6:36 pm #199
Ah, Dori…just finding this as I take a quick break from my company. I, too, feel it will help to put biz-journal type thoughts down in “print” again. Looking forward to hearing more about your current journey from tea-lady to…February 15, 2017 at 7:47 pm #259
Yes, my journey from tea-lady to what? That is the question. As you well know, Lesley dear, I’ve been on a haphazard journey of change for over 6 years now…
I opened my business in 1998, in a tiny storefront on Whidbey Island. Simple pine shelves of the cozy little shop held glass jars of loose teas and wicker baskets filled with basic tea accessories. Sprinkled throughout was a small assortment of vintage goods and charming gifts items, many made by the hands of local artists and craftswomen including me. Over the years the business grew, the inventory expanded (far too much), a kitchen and scones was added, and a website was launched to better care for the needs of my customers, many of whom lived far beyond my islandâ€™s shores.
While delighted with my companyâ€™s growth, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with it, for it had taken me away from the simple beginnings where the emphasis was on beautiful teas and simple, but lovely gifts. To keep my shop doors open, I had to sell too much ‘stuff’, stuff which had become harder and harder for me to sell because I no longer liked it or believed in it. Honestly, how many cheap teapots from Asia does one need, and the pull to transition to more organic teas and herbs had also become too strong to ignore, yet many of my customers did not want to pay the higher cost of such teas. In 2010, totally burnt out from the struggle to make a profit in a small market, I closed my shop to take a deep breath and begin the transition (I hoped) to something more meaningful. Just as importantly, I closed to spend my youngest son’s senior year of H.S. at home. I wanted to attend every track meet, to visit colleges, and to just be there. Both William and I agree, it was a good, good year.
The last few years have been tumultuous. I’ve stopped and started my business several times, just running it from a website. I’ve changed my business name and trimmed my offerings, but never quite feeling like I had it right. My husband and I sold the home we raised ours boys in, and built a new home, barely surviving the experience of working with a very difficult builder. In truth, it was a miserable experience.
But, we did survive, and come April we’ll have been in this new home of ours for two years. Here on this magical piece of property tucked between pond and forest and close to the sea, I have finally been able to quiet and find the path which I believe has been calling to me since childhood.
(more soon)February 16, 2017 at 2:31 pm #261
oh, Dori…what a wonderfully rich story…your journey reads like a novel!
i thoroughly understand your discomfort with the growth demands of your first business…how wise and brave of you to recognize that you needed to step back.
i very much look forward to your next chapter. đź™‚ xoMarch 4, 2017 at 3:51 pm #293
I’ve always grown herbs in my gardens for cooking, and since early childhood have been fascinated with the food and medicinal value of herbs, both the wild ones of forest and meadow, and their semi-domesticated cousins. While walking with my mother and grandmother in the woods and on the logging roads near the rustic lake cabin owned by my grandparents, I absorbed so much; which berries were which, which ‘weed’ to crush and rub on skin to soothe nettle stings, which ferns had shoots that were edible or roots one could chew for a sweet licorice flavor. My insatiable need to know more led me to botany classes in school, and the haunting of book sales for books to add to my own little library.
Perhaps I came by some of this interest genetically. : ) One of my great-greats, was a very-accomplished healer in the early colonial times. The daughter of a British apothecary, she was wedded off and sent to the New World. What she had learned in her fatherâ€™s shop was of value in her new life, and was added to when she protected and quietly befriended a Native American woman, who taught my ancestress the healing properties of local wild plants. Having such an interesting woman in my lineage, certainly piqued my interest even more.
Last winter, feeling dissatisfied with my little tea business, not yet settled in this new home, and a more than a bit adrift without a kitchen garden to even plan for, I gave myself the gift of an introductory herbal medicine course. How I enjoyed it! Walking in our fields and woods, collecting specimens to study, dry, tincture, and add to foods and tea blends, satisfied me in such a deep way. Mid-summer found me finally planting in a proper kitchen garden, and as I knelt harvesting the first lavender buds and calendula blossoms, I knew I had found my path, or rather I had re-found it. Better late than never.March 4, 2017 at 4:22 pm #294
Oh, Dori! i honestly wanted to have a little weep just now, reading this.
what a wonderful family history…and to know that you’ve (re) found your path…well, it gives this restless and slightly adrift soul a bit of hope. đź™‚ xoMarch 6, 2017 at 9:51 am #298
I agree with Mel. Beautiful, Dori. And isn’t it a reflection of your path towards Wild Simplicity? As you do more in your work with what you find around you, and grow…and then how more ease will come in when you are not dealing so much with far away suppliers and all that comes with that?March 15, 2017 at 9:55 pm #311
Yes, my journey is a reflection of my path towards Wild Simplicity. I believe, and now accept, that I have been called to be a healer of sorts. Had I been born in the ancient days in northern Europe, I feel pretty certain I would have been raised in the Wise Woman Tradition, and I’d have been dubbed a Hedgewitch or a Greenwitch or simply that odd healer woman who lived in the wee cottage on the other side of the hedgerow. : ) The most wonderful thing is this, as I embrace this calling ever more deeply, I have found this river of peace. Sometimes I am in the river, sometime just close, but I feel it, just there…within reach if I care to reach out.
Now, if you are reading this, please know I am not a caster of spells. The closest I get to that is prayer, meditation, and the lighting of small tealight candles; the glow of which reminds me to keep a loved one in my heart and thoughts. Nor do I believe that herbs, plants, flowers are the be all and end all, but I do believe they are powerful allies in the seeking of health and well-being. And, I also believe it is high time we attend well to Mother Earth who gives us all of these wonderful things.
I grew so weary of trying to fit life into and around my business. Now, now, I see it seems possible to have my ‘work’ not only fit into my life, but to actually be a very good part of it. This makes my soul sing.March 28, 2017 at 8:12 pm #361
Oh, my heart is aching at Lesley’s news of her husband’s job ending. I am so, so sorry. My husband has been unemployed now for 3 months… We flirted with lay-offs all through the recession, and thought maybe we’d be safe, but then Boeing moved so many jobs out of the PNW, aerospace design firms big and small began to cut back, and BAM, it got us….right before Christmas.
It is hard. Chris is a glass half empty sort of fellow, I usually see the glass as half full. So I work to pump him up, and me at the same time. It’s taking a toll. We’re receiving some assistance from my in-laws, which feels uncomfortable at our age…you know? I’ve taken a part-time job at a local nursery in the hopes of covering our groceries, and would love to grow my new little business, but it’s just a few pennies in the bucket. We’ll muddle through, but it sure isn’t fun.
Enough of that, on to other things.
What is it that I wish to do? : ) I am being asked this more and more often, so I better try to come up with something….
I am transitioning my business from one which for too many years has been focused on teas (as in real tea–black, green, oolong, etc.) bought from too many large suppliers in too large quantities, to one that will primarily be my own tea and herbal blends. My small batch and studio-crafted products will be as organic and beneficial and I can make them, filled with as much natural beauty and appeal as I can give them. I want to focus on the seasons, incorporating into what I make the many herbs and flowers that grow wild in our forest and fields, as well as those I can grow in my own gardens. I want to be free to pour my heart and soul into what I do, and only offer that which feels just right and in quantities that make sense. There will be teas, soaps, tinctures, salves, perfumes, herbal infused syrups and honeys… perhaps other crafted creations from my studio, too. I want to redesign my business image and my website into one that feels more earthy, a little magical, a little mysterious. I want to capture for my customer a little of the joy I feel when I am working in my garden, walking in the woods, or blending up something lovely in my studio.
hmmmm….. There is a whole lot of “I” up there. : ) For far too many years I have continued to do what no longer brings me pleasure, not only because it was easy, but because I have not wanted to disappoint others. Working without joy is a sure way to get lost.
March 31, 2017 at 10:47 am #363
- This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by dori.
Your business model sounds beautiful, Dori. You can really tell when someone pours themselves whole-heartedly into a venture. There’s just a special feel, a glow if you will. We all change as life goes on; why shouldn’t our businesses as well?April 1, 2017 at 6:59 pm #367
Thank you, Julie. Yes… I think, we are happiest when we can continue to grow and change… in all ways. : )
So, my friends, I quit the nursery job. My last hours were yesterday. My poor little knees could not take the stress of long hours standing and hustling about on concrete. Two nearly sleepless achy nights, and a weepy morning, paved the way. The owner and my supervisor were so lovely about my decision. I may go back very part-time to a little shop I worked in a year ago. Fewer hours, but a little more pay, and less stress to boot. I’ll keep my eyes open for an office or bookkeeping job, though.
In the meantime, there are nettles to harvest, tinctures to make, and seeds to plant in my garden. Now, if the weather here would just cooperate, it would be lovely.
Blessings on your weekend. xoApril 4, 2017 at 9:52 am #368
Oh! Just finding this, Dori. I am glad for you…it sounded like a stretch…all of those hardworking hours for little pay.
Your wisdom will keep speaking to you while you gather and make and plant.April 4, 2017 at 11:49 am #369
These 60-year old joints just could not do it. The spirit was willing, the body was not. I do need to find a little job, though. Chris is coming up on 4 months on unemployment, and benefits will end after two more. It is just not looking good at all out there for him. Anything I can bring in will help. There are one or two little possibilities for me that might be incubating…jobs which would provide a little income at a better rate, but still allow me plenty of time to garden and care for my own small business.
I am trying to stay optimistic, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit worry is a constant now.
We did have the gift of a beautiful day yesterday, and I spent hours in my garden digging in compost, tucking in seeds, and planning where to tuck herbs of one sort or another. Such hours are the best therapy ever.
I’ll be lighting another candle for all of us today. xoApril 5, 2017 at 3:31 pm #370
oh dear…i’m very late to this after finding it increasingly difficult to motivate myself to turn on my computer!
i’m so sorry to hear of your husband’s lay-off, Dori. I can really appreciate what you’re going through — my husband has been through some really difficult years starting from an injury at work right before our youngest’s first birthday. It’s so hard trying to carry the load whilst simultaneously jollying another person to optimism. I think the years of having to do this — along with my job taking it’s toll on my battered old body — is what motivates me to want to become self-sufficient…our ‘plan’ had always been that i’d be at home with the children and i feel the loss of that very deeply. i suppose my wanting to have my own business that i can run from home, is a response to that disappointment.
anyway — that’s a tangent that doesn’t belong in your journal! i apologize! i just wanted to let you know that i can wholeheartedly empathize with your situation.
your business model sounds utterly divine. i think the world desperately needs more of this — small, seasonally-influenced makers….we’re too used to strawberries in January, i think and we’d be better off being reminded that all things have their turn and we are better for living/eating/drinking that way.
much love to you….i’ll be holding you in my heart as always. xoxoApril 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm #371
Mel, truly, no apology is needed for sharing part of your story here. I am grateful for the conversation and empathy.
Oh gosh…things are just a muddle here. There is the possibility of a job for Chris (he had a good phone interview on Friday) and possibly one in the works for me. But Chris’s would be out of state, and if it comes to be, then I may not be able to pursue mine. We may have to relocate or split time between there and here, or rent this and rent there, or sell here and buy there or….? My head is spinning and my heart is aching.
I’m a true Virgo…I need to sink roots. My roots were torn up three years ago and I’ve not yet felt free to root in this new place. Here I am planting gardens, yearning to do so, but it might all be in vain.
Hopefully this day may bring some answers and some clarity.
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