This time last year was an exciting time of year. PostTea had been judged a great business before it had even launched, I'd just started a (successful) Crowdfunder campaign, I was working hard towards joining Pop Up Britain in their pop up shop in Camberley, and all before PostTea started trading. It was a busy, invigorating, uplifting time for me and PostTea. I started trading just under a year ago, and spent a month in the pop up shop, and learnt a huge amount. If I look back on those photos and see just how far I have come, and how PostTea has developed organically, and I feel so proud, not of myself but of the whole evolution. The support I've received from friends, family, customers and other business owners has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Today, PostTea is a small but thriving business with some pretty impressive moments. 80% of PostTea customers are 'repeat offenders'; we've been featured in articles alongside Fortnum and Mason's for our tea gifts, and the response to our new wedding range has been phenomenal. There are small but steady signs of growth, and sure signs that people know PostTea is a good and awesome thing. Financially PostTea is self-sufficient, and making money, and I'm sure the rest of 2014 is going to be absolutely awesome.
But whilst PostTea is self-sustaining, I am not. Whilst growing and nurturing PostTea I've worked three days a week to earn just about enough money to live, just enough money to pay rent, fuel the car and buy food, but not much more than that. I've never supplemented my income from this job with money from PostTea, preferring to put the money back into PostTea, to design new products, buy new equipment and generally keep things fresh and awesome. But when 'life' happens, when the car breaks down, when I split my jeans from carrying a stupidly heavy box of mugs up five flights of stairs, it turns out that earning just enough money to live off just isn't enough money to live off.
So, from Monday, I start back at full time work; five days a week. 9.5hr work days, on a shift pattern and an hour's commute each way. I've been offered a great contract at the place where I currently work, a place where I'm happy, and I place where I can get stuck in and for this I am hugely grateful. Signing that contract a great weight was lifted, simply knowing that each month I'm not going to be constantly glued to the bank statement, and continually driving the car on the petrol warning light.
But at the same time I am sad because I feel like I'm 'giving up', giving in too easily. I'm giving up a huge amount of time that I've been dedicated to PostTea up until now. Running a business is time consuming, trying to grow a business even more so. So I know progress will slow, I know it's going to be harder to keep pushing forward, keep the sales coming, keep active on social media, keep on top of those emails, and the dreaded accounts. But the worst thing is feeling terribly like I've let every one down, all my cheerleaders, my support network, my family, my awesome customers, my lovely new friends who I've met through PostTea, and all my close friends who've helped me pack advent calendars and wedding orders at stupid o'clock in the morning.
Of course, PostTea isn't closing, I'm not stopping, I'm just readjusting to how life is right now. I have awesome plans for the summer, new teas, new gift boxes and a couple of huge trade fairs at the end of the summer, and of course there's the advent calendars at Christmas time.
This has been the worst blog post to write, but I've also tried to be transparent in business, and I know many people will appreciate the candour. It's hard to know the ebbs and flows of small business when all we're concerned about is presenting this polished and professional exterior to our customers, but PostTea has a heart, PostTea is about having a heart, and it'd be wrong for me not to write something and let all you lovely people know what's going on.
Phewf, I think a cup of tea is in order after that! (There's also cookies in the oven too - I'll share the recipe later, when I've 'tested' several) :)
With love, tea folk! x