Climbing Mountains, Bouncing Back & Celebrating

After a few turbulent years for the first time in years I was excited to start this year, I had a plan and life was starting to come together very nicely and because things had settle slightly I had direction and it felt great.

I had a plan that was working, I felt happy and confident.  I’d battled through my mental health problems and for the first time in years I felt like I was on the right track.

Then the pandemic hit, and the rug was pulled from under all of us!

Watching the world fall into chaos and despite the fact I instantly lost tens of thousands of pounds not to mention the massive investments I’d made last year; I knew I was one of the lucky ones.  Since I made a promise to myself through the financial crisis of 2008 and losing everything then I no longer relied on one income stream and had multiple businesses so at least I still had some money coming in.

Pivoting quickly, I upped my game and increased my herbal tea and botanical drink production, released more online courses and started to sell products from my farm’s vintage shop online which for a while was going great! 

My family pulled together with my daughters mucking in with everything, after my eldest was laid off from her job we were all at home and everyone was happy to help.  My sister and nephew came to stay with us before lockdown and decided to stay through lockdown once it was announced so I had an extra couple of pairs of hands.   

Once again things seemed to be going well, although at that point I didn’t have a plan and still had mountains to climb and targets to hit, the important thing to do first was stabilise things.

Online sales took off, my herbal tea business was flat out and vintage items selling fast, then I hit another problem!  Delivery companies started to get overwhelmed with the volume of parcels being sent, all the deliverymen that came to collect or deliver at the farm telling me it was like Christmas 10x!  I should have known then but was so amazed by the sheer volume of products I was sending out and feeling so relieved I had an income; I didn’t foresee or prepare for any future problems.

Emails started coming in from customers, parcels not being delivered.  Thinking this was just a blip and to be honest anyone selling remotely expects one or two logistics hiccups, but this escalated and got worst, it wasn’t just one or two!  Delivery companies already snowed under were also short staffed and by this time many had closed their phone lines unable to cope with the sheer volume of calls.

This meant I had an extra couple of hours of work a day trying to sort out missing orders but my orders had also increased with wholesale customers now almost doubling their sales having moved online and increasing orders with me.

I so wanted this to work and I so needed the income!  But as the days and weeks went on customers started putting in claims unwilling to wait until I could find missing items which was frustratingly taking FOREVER and then I started to get negative reviews which is so soul destroying when you are working so hard and trying everything but it’s all out of your hands.

I’d known for a couple of weeks that although my end was working, I was coping and so grateful for the extra work, the system I was relying on was crumbling under the pressure which affected everything I was trying to do.  I HAD to make another a really, really hard decision.

Looking at the bigger picture, almost all my large wholesale orders were reaching their destination and the odd one or two that didn’t my customers completely understood (they were facing the same problems) and happy to wait until things were resolved.  It was the smaller vintage items or personal tea orders I was having the most problems with.

I very reluctantly decided to pull all sales of small orders, it was a difficult decision I really couldn’t afford the loss but I knew it was temporary and I’d figure something else out – but I had to do it quickly!

I can’t afford to hire staff especially now, but I needed help to move forward.  It’s been okay these past few weeks because I have family here to help but I needed a plan for the long term.  Ever increasingly aware winter is coming an expensive, manually intensive, time consuming seven or eight months that I need to prepare for.

My sister was working with me in the blending workshop about three weeks ago, like me she loves herbs, natural living and sustainable business and loved helping to blending teas.   We were chatting when she turned and said she’d love to get involved with the tea business full time!  This surprised me, I’d never thought to ask her because she busy with her own successful online business, but like me she’s multipassionate and usually ends up doing a multitude of different things at once!

Over a lot of herbal tea and late nights at the farmhouse kitchen table we thrashed out a few ideas and put together a plan.

I am so thrilled to announce Charlotte has become my new partner in my herbal tea and botanical drinks business, I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have onboard and work alongside.

And I’m so happy to announce after much planning we are once again fully open for business, so happy to serve and ready to face any challenges that might arise!

To celebrate we would love to offer you 30% discount on all of our herbal teas and botanical drinks please click here to visit the website!

So, another new chapter starts, I've put on my walking boots and ruck sack and I'm ready to start tackling those mountains again!

Much love.  Stay safe, strong and positive

Erica x

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