Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Let the Blending Begin!

I just placed an order from my supplier! It's a small order, for experimenting with blends, but a first order none-the-less! So as soon as the shipment arrives... the blending begins! Since I had to order ingredients by the pound, I'll have many ingredients in stock when I pass my food manager test. Looks like I'll have to solve my eco-friendly packaging issues very soon!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I've made multiple inquiries to a specific biodegradable packaging supplier and have yet to receive a response! Made inquiries at other suppliers this morning... Hopefully I will get a response from them! If not, I guess I'll have to turn to tins. I like the idea, but they are expensive and take up a lot of room. Hmmm... just got an alternate idea... What about heat sealed biodegrable cello bags, inside of opaque boxes made of recycled cardboard? I'll have to check into that!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Time to Study!

I received my food manager study guide! With my class and test 3 weeks away... I'll be working hard studying and taking quizzes and practice tests! I've opened an account with my primary tea supplier and am working on setting up an account for biodegradable packaging. I'm also scoping out the local markets where I'll be selling and I've set up a Twitter account so I can tweet my schedule to my customers. You can find it here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Market Research

Every year, my friend Lois has her "Cool and Groovy Garden Party" and invites her artistic friends to set up tents and tables to sell their creations in her whimsical garden. She sends out invitations and posts flyers to bring in the customers. I have participated for the past 2 years. Yesterday, I not only set up my craft and vintage tea ware table, but I set up a tea station for some market research.

I blended and brewed some teas from what I had in my kitchen and offered them for tasting. I had prepared questionaires for each taster to fill out. I got some very good results. My Lemon Creme Spice was hands down the favorite. The Rose Petal Black took a close second, suggestions were to add more Spearmint. While, the Berry Good Oolong came in last. Some liked it, but most didn't, stating it was weak and too tart.

I also emailed the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services some questions about the Cottage Foods Act recently signed into law. I can start this venture under the act, blending and packaging my teas in my own kitchen. However, I can only sell directly to the consumer, meaning no internet or mail order sales and I cannot go over $15000 in gross annual sales. So the plan is to start out as a cottage business and sell at farmers markets and other events, until I start actually making money... Then I'll contract with a professional kitchen and expand into internet sales and local grocers.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Journey Update!

Well, I've applied for a Fictitious Name and registered for the Food Manager Certification class and test with the State of Florida. My class and test is December 12... less than a month away! I've also contact a couple of commercial rental kitchens, as well. I hope to hear back from them soon. Things are progressing!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Beginning of My Journey

I've recently become unemployed after more than 10 years at a regional environmental government agency, more than 5 at a state environmental agency and many years in the private sector prior to that. In this economy, jobs are hard to find, especially for those over 50. My husband has been ill and has been out of work for more than 2 years, making me our sole provider.

So... what to do? I thought about being the full time artist that I've longed to be, but my production of pieces has been sporadic... not enough to support myself, much less myself and my family.  I want to do something I'm passionate about, but don't have much capital for a business start up. I also wanted there to be an environmental element and a social justice element. There also had to be a spiritual connection. So I asked the questions: What am I passionate about? What can satisfy the environmental and human elements? What about the spiritual connection?  The answer... Tea!

For the past few weeks, I've been working on planning the opening of The Bohemian Tea House. I plan to blend, package and sell fair trade, organic teas and herbal tisanes under my own label. Primary sales will be online and at local farmers markers. My goal (besides blending and selling wonderful organically grown teas that help to support workers on the plantations) is to eventually have a mobile tea lounge selling and serving my own artisan blended teas (and perhaps some baked goods) at venues and events throughout the US, or at least the southeastern US.

Wish me luck and stay tuned!