Wow, time has surely flown by! It’s hard to believe that this Sunday is the official one-year anniversary of my opening A New Leaf. I’d like to take a walk down memory lane and then a look ahead.
I have been a tea drinker my whole life. My earliest memory of tea is sitting with my grandmother, and listening to her clinking her spoon against the side of her teacup to stir in her milk and sugar. Years passed and I developed a love for tea. I went off to college, met the man who became my husband, and learned that he was also a tea drinker. We married, travelled, and deeply expanded our tea horizons. It was in graduate school, while taking a marketing class with the marketing genius Dr. Joel Evans, that I had to develop a business marketing plan from scratch. It was then, back in the late 90s that the business plan developed.
“A tea shop? Why tea?” was Dr. Evans’ question to me.
“Why not? There are few places like it here in the U.S. … and I happen to love tea,” was my candid response.
I did alright in my marketing class, received my MBA in business computer information systems, and then sat that marketing plan on a shelf for many years while I continued my career in higher education and raised three daughters. The business plan came back out in 2009, was honed and expanded, the business was named, and the LLC formed. Just in case.
My daughters were now a bit older, in high school, middle school, and elementary school … growing up quickly. I had recently hit the big 4-0. I was comfortable in my job, enjoying what I did, but after 20+ years at it, something was missing. My husband had found the vacant storefront on Seventh Street in Garden City and asked if I would want to open up my tea store. Terrified, I spent many sleepless nights pondering my decision and after a few grueling weeks, finally decided to take a very big risk and a very tough economy and become an entrepreneur. As the mother of three very strong-willed daughters, I was determined to show them to follow their dreams, to believe in themselves, and never have any regrets.
We found a great architect and a conscientious contractor, and after approval from the Village, opened six months after signing our lease.
We have made a great start here in Garden City. New businesses are difficult, and I’ve had more sleepless nights being a small-business owner than I did when I brought each of my babies home from the hospital. Every day is a challenge in one way or another. But, it’s a lot easier when you have people who believe in you. I couldn’t have done anything without my wonderful husband, and my three beautiful kids. My husband is sure to remind me every day how what I’ve created has inspired many, and that I’ve done the most important thing and become an inspiration for our three children.
Since our opening on September 15, 2012 A New Leaf has done some exciting things, but the best of all is that we’ve brought the awareness of tea into a coffee-infused area. I managed to hire some great, tea-loving staff and get compliments about their pleasantness and knowledge every day (how great is that?!) We’ve switched up our tea offerings seasonally and now offer over 75 different teas that we can steep on site, hot or iced.
We’ve started to build a great community of clients, and have branched out into off-site catering, corporate accounts, tea tastings, tea services, and other special events.
Looking ahead, A New Leaf is moving into new territory and has some exciting things planned for the upcoming fall and winter months:
- Wine-inspired teas (now in stock)
- Sweet-spicy chai (this week)
- Scheduled tea education classes (e.g., tea basics, tea discovery classes) beginning in November
- Tea-of-the-month club (in time for December)
- New inventory of porcelain teapots (September) and stainless steel tea kettles (October)
- Extended winter hours on Friday and Saturday evenings beginning in October
- Guest speakers
- Social events (e.g., book club hostings)
One year has certainly flown by. We’ve gotten our feet wet, and we’re looking forward to continuing to build our customer base and help spread our love of tea to the Garden City area and beyond. If you’re in the area, make sure you stop by and say hello and sample some of our free teas this weekend (9/13-15).