On the brink of a new and hopeful year, I do have some sad news to share, and seek some advice from my tea loving friends... Something's been "steeping" in my mind this last month, and I wasn't sure how to address it or what, if anything to say.
I've been an Independent Tea Consultant with Let's Do Tea since March of 2009... not terribly long, but certainly long enough to fall in love with the product, share it with many, many of my friends and family and become very invested in my own little side business. First and foremost, I really love this tea, and I love to share it with people. I'm not a "sales" type person; I just liked it so much I felt compelled to spread the word... The last couple of months especially, I feel like I hit a comfortable stride, happily hosting tea parties almost every weekend.
Unbeknownst to most of us consultants, things were a'changing over at the home office in Texas. On December 2nd, I was SHOCKED to discover an email from our President, Meredith Tieszen, informing us that Let's Do Tea would be ceasing operations today, December 31st 2009. Really? Wow. You could have knocked me out of my chair with a feather... Apparently the economy has hit our business hard, and the company didn't want to further raise prices (as they did January of 2009) or further cut consultants commissions (as they did in April 2009). To say I didn't see this coming would be an understatement. I was stunned, as was my friend and mentor Mary . We've only seen our business growing, not declining... but there is always more than one side, so who knows. A month isn't very long to wrap up your business, make contact with all of your customers to see if they'd like to place any orders to stock up on their favorites before the company closed... especially in the most financially draining (not to mention BUSY) month of the year for most families... December. Ouch.
At any rate, there have since been some changes and Meredith has decided to keep Let's Do Tea going, but as an online sales company only, which is good for the customers who enjoy the tea, but bad for us consultants left with a big investment on our part, and few options to continue to grow our businesses. We could buy the tea wholesale (if we have a business license) and move forward in that direction, but unless you have an actual brick & mortar store or tea shop, that isn't realistic for many of us. I'm glad that Meredith has found a way to continue the company and secure a future for herself and glad for my customers who now find themselves unable to cope without their daily cuppa. But frankly, I'm not as happy with what's left to us. I really hate to sound like sour grapes, but I made an investment in Let's Do Tea. I put a lot of my time, money and energy into this business knowing not to expect to make a profit right away (and I have not) but rather over the years to come, all that I've put into it would come back to me, and maybe a little extra too. Not to mention the friends that I make along the way... Much to my dismay, that isn't going to happen with Let's Do Tea. I'm really trying to see it as "nothing ventured, nothing gained" and "it's business", but its a bit of a hard pill to swallow...
So, now where do I go from here? Another Tea based home sales business; Tealightful Treasures has graciously opened their doors to us displaced Let's Do Tea consultants and offered us a place in their company. A wise move, as there are hundreds of active Let's Do Tea consultants with tea drinking customer bases already in place. Charlene Phillips the Founder and CEO of Tealightful Treasures, seems great, I have had the opportunity to sit in on a couple of conference calls with her as we decide to make the transition or not and Charlene seems genuinely happy to have us, and understands that its like starting all over again. Tealightful Treasures is going above and beyond to accommodate us and make us a part of their team, for which I am grateful. I feel like I already have one leg over the fence, yet I feel hesitant... I have put so much into my tea biz, I don't want to see it go... ...it's another risk... should I or shouldn't I... I don't mind saying that I enjoy being known as a "tea lady" around here, hehehe... it's kind of fun! But it really is starting ALL OVER. New product, new inventory, new everything...
I'd love to hear your advice and thoughts. Have you heard of Tealightful Treasures? Are there other tea companies out there? I'm just one person, I've never run my own company so I'm very open to any advise more experienced business ladies may have to offer.
As I've sat here writing this blog, the FedEx guy delivered a great big box... my last order from Let's Do Tea... (biiig sigh) what to do?
With a tear in my tea,
p.s. Gee whiz... what a buzzkill. Please let me add before it's too late, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!