What do you do when you’re in the same industry as your husband and that industry takes a hit in the recession? In 2008, Sheryl Myhre, knew she needed to diversify away from the architectural supply industry and come up with a venture that would thrive in the new world order after the crisis. She had always loved drinking tea over coffee, but it wasn’t until a European trip that she really discovered all that tea could offer. She found that the simple tea bag most Americans use is not the traditional way. In Europe, it’s an experience, complete with whole leaf teas of every variety, interesting brewing vessels, art and history pertaining to each kind of tea – not to mention the health benefits, all adding to the overall enjoyment of tea. “It’s so much more than just a beverage.”
Coming back from this trip, Sheryl began researching everything about tea. She wasn’t sure what she would do with her research but she was so intrigued, she couldn’t stop thinking about it. Starting a file, the information piled up. With a second child on the way, she had time off and pulled out her tea file again. “My business was a slow brew of an idea.” She began researching tea companies and adding to this file that she would soon use to build a business plan. Doing her own market analysis, Sheryl gathered a wealth of knowledge on all things tea. “The folder became a snapshot of the idea I had in my head for my new career. I wrote a business plan to organize my thoughts. Sometimes it’s hard for me to stay on target, I want to jump ahead, but I used the plan to guide me and keep me grounded.”
So after a year and half of research and attending a tea expo in Las Vegas, she was ready to jump in to the hot water. Sheryl had learned that there were 1000s of growers but taste depended on multiple factors including the soil, temperature, climate, time of harvest, and drying methods. Finding tea growers from all the major tea producing countries, Sheryl tasted and selected the teas for her new venture. “Once I had to taste 60 teas in one weekend and make my choices before they went to auction. Tea is often compared to wine, there are a multitude of complexities and tea changes each time it’s brewed.”
Sheryl was ready to launch her on line store. She got help with her logo and branding from another mom who is a graphic designer. She also brought in mom helpers for packaging and shipping. “I love working with moms, they understand that when your child calls, you have to go. Moms have odd hours too.” Sheryl proves this theory by working most days from 5am – 7am, before her kids wake up and then circling back to her desk when they go to school. She says, “Like most moms, from 3 – 9:00pm is kid time.” With a warehouse for storing and shipping, Sheryl keeps an office there and one at home to accommodate her kids’ schedules.
Going live in May 2010, the on line site offers over 60 varieties of teas, many brewing vessels and tips for brewing the perfect cup of tea. There is a link with each variety where the user can learn of the many health benefits offered by each tea. Patterning her site after the big guys, she’s prepared for growth. Sheryl feels tea has fit in to the new world economy and overall outlook, “Tea is an affordable luxury that can nourish body and soul. Having my own business is great,” Sheryl says, “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs along the way but nothing a great cup of tea couldn’t help.”
Research who the players are in an industry that interests you and pattern your venture around how they’ve succeeded.