Are Both Possible?
I have been studying blending herbs and spices for teas since 2004 when I entered into a homebirth midwifery course. Though I decided to not pursue being a midwife, something inside of me ascended to a profound place of curiosity and wonder when I put together blends. I felt connected to each herb I touched.
In the years that followed, I created teas for every reason. When I felt sick, I created a tea. When I wanted a new flavor, a blend came to me. When I became pregnant, I researched, studied and created a new tea for my specific need. The same for breastfeeding. Pretty soon, I gave teas to every person I knew.
I eventually studied Nutrition Education and learned more about the mysterious nature of blending herbs and spices for health benefits. I continued to create blends for myself and friends while having my nutrition practice. I noticed when I added a blend to several clients’ meal plans, a feeling inside me strengthened, I knew there was more to blending than just an occasional pastime. When my nutrition practice reached a standstill, I literally prayed for an answer to add value to my business. The answer was clear, my blends.
I launched Tara’s Teas in November of 2013 in order to elevate my practice. It made sense, herbal blends and nutrition really do work together synchronistically. Before I knew it, the tea business had taken over my life.
As I focused more on creating and marketing my herbal blends, the less time I spent on trying to attract nutrition clients. I began attending in-person events to sell the teas. I entered into herbalism classes, studied with a variety of different teachers and delved deeply into the world of blending herbs, spices and teas in order to create powerful flavors that were also nutritionally beneficial. I also checked with my school to see if talking about nutritional benefits of herbs and spices were within my scope of practice. Fortunately, the answer was yes as long as I focused on the medicinal properties of the herbs.
As the years passed I found that I was more a Tea Maker and less a “Nutrition Educator.” I intertwined both, however more people knew me as Tara the Tea Maker or Tea Alchemist, a term I love. My entire focus, besides being a mother, was the tea business.
The next logical step was to take a business course. I went into Uptima Business Bootcamp so that I could gain the practical skills to run a business. I enjoyed the class camaraderie, the support was invaluable. What I struggled with were the technicalities of running a business. Web development, KPI’s, business bookkeeping and more were a list of topics we learned, but I found difficult. The classes were painful for me, I actually chose to repeat one because the subject matter was like a new language that I could not understand.
When my business hit a roadblock and I was having extreme financial challenges, I decided to pause the business and look for work. Since I could not find a job that paid enough to support myself and my son, I drove for a ride share company. My heart was with my business, but I just had to focus on finances and stability.
As my financial situation improved, I considered a relaunch. I was able to buy back my domain and I worked on getting my permits again. I felt excited, but trepidatious. One particular day I was driving my usual rideshare gig when a woman got in my car and serendipitously the conversation flowed into being a creative and business owner.
I don’t remember how the conversation started, but we began talking about our passions. She asked me what I did besides driving and I told her about my tea business, but that it was on pause. She asked me, “So, how do you like running a business?” I told her, “Honestly, it’s a struggle.” I went into talking about how much I love blending teas, how it’s a natural part of who I am. I talked about herbalism and how my goal was to become a Certified Herbalist. She listened and then offered me her story.
This random passenger shared with me how she loved baking, it was all she did. She went on to tell me she decided to open a bakery and how that bakery consumed her every moment. She talked about the long hours, the bookkeeping, the marketing, the clients, basically the business of being a “baker.” She finally told me how she hated it, disliked being a business owner. She then informed me about a life changing book she read that helped her let go of her business. After she closed the bakery, she continued to bake on occasion for friends, family and herself, what she loved about being a baker in the first place.
As I listened to her, my body felt more relaxed. After we said our goodbyes I thanked her for sharing such a powerful experience with me. I made a mental note of the book but unfortunately did not write it down.
Throughout the rest of the day I remained quiet. Passenger after passenger I thought about the conversation I had with the woman whose words resonated with me. I did not want to fully give up my business, but I came to the realization that I did not like being a business owner and the conversation with a random stranger helped me to realize that.
After a series of events that caused me to stop driving for the rideshare company, I had time to relax and reflect. Covid emerged and the subsequent lockdown caused me to have the time and resources to think about my tea business. By this time I also started writing more. I had been blogging for 10+ years and was able to take more focused time writing while I contemplated being a business owner again.
In order to save my business, I signed up for support services. The Small Business Administration assigned me the most amazing woman, I mean the best possible person for me as a mentor. She helped me with strategy, clients, funding and most importantly, the doubt-filled emotions of running a business. She was a rock during a tumultuous time. My business grew, but I felt this lingering dissatisfied feeling within.
After a year of following the shelter-in-place order I decided to really look at who I was and what I ultimately wanted to do with my life. I saw that I had hesitated on several opportunities to actually open up my own location, which had been a major part of my business plan for five years. I had the time, I had the enthusiastic support but the drive was just not there. I finally admitted to my mentor that I did not feel I could be a creative and business owner. I know I have it in me if I forced myself, but that’s just it, I’m not willing to live that lie. Authenticity is a core value of mine and if I am going to live from that place I have to be honest.
I had a conversation with another small business owner and when she mentioned she was considering selling her business, I told her about the rideshare conversation. She excitedly said “Yes! That’s exactly what I’d been feeling.” We shared our mutual love for our individual crafts, but the struggles of running them as a business. I recently had the same conversation with another who had just let go of her business. I stopped feeling alone in my decision.
I do believe that a person can be a creative and business owner. What I realize is that I honestly do not feel that person is me. My heart opens and I am in a very different place when I blend herbs, spices and teas. I fill complete delight and the creative flow that comes through me. I legitimately do not like running a business however.
While I made the decision to not close down my tea business, I am running it in a different way. I take orders, but do not actively market. I’m not seeking out business as aggressively as I have in the past. I have been honest in my love of blending herbs and spices and the innate power of their medicinal value. I’ve said to my mentor and a few other trusted business owners that if I ever met an aligned business oriented person who would run the business with me, I would absolutely open the storefront. My vision is solid and those who have seen my business plan agrees.
I appreciate creatives and I appreciate small business owners. I send much love and respect to those who are able to manage both and still feel the passion of their creativity.