If you are wondering about market availability for a product you’re interested in offering, there is no need to worry. Where there is a will, there is a way. Karen Hattaway can attest to that. She is the proud owner of Sweet Necessi-Teas, an online store that offers over 300 different tea related products.

Sitting with a nice cup of tea is a great way for two friends to chat about their day, or for a mother and daughter to bond. It is classy, classic and heartwarming. Any tea lover could not help but admire all the wonderful things found within Karen’s shop.

Giveaway

Karen is giving one of our readers the chance to enjoy that same experience by offering a tea tin filled with 4oz of her premium loose tea, as shown. Tea cup and saucer not included.

For your chance to win leave a comment on this post telling us what your favorite tea is. The giveaway starts now and ends June 22nd at 11:59pm. I will choose the winner on the 23rd, and they will be contacted by email. Shipping is limited to the USA only.

What is ‘Sweet Necessi-Teas’?

Sweet Necessi-Teas is an online boutique that provides all the necessities for bringing tea time elegance into everyday living.

Why base your business on Teatime?

Sewing has always been my first love. When I was 10, I began to dream of having my own shop to sell my creations. Throughout my teenage years, I designed and made most of my clothing, and went on to major in Home Economics in college. Thirteen years ago, I was introduced to the pleasure of taking tea with friends. From that moment on, tea became my second passion. Combining my love of sewing and needlework with my passion for tea eventually led me to create a line of clothing, aprons, tea table items, and accessories for myself that I could not find in stores. When friends and even total strangers began asking for my sources, I began selling them at seasonal craft shows and a booth at a local antique and craft mall.

What steps did you need to take to get your business where it is today?

I was a stay-at-home mom, married to an airline pilot. September 11, 2001 and the resulting economic uncertainty and turmoil in my husband’s industry forced me to look for a better way to bring in extra income. Desiring to remain at home, I began selling my products online through an e-commerce mall, RubyLane, in 2003 under the shop name, Dressed For Tea.. After 2 1/2 years, in 2006, I gained enough confidence to take my business a step further and opened my own website, but renamed my business Sweet Necessi-Teas to reflect the expansion of my product line , from just from tea time clothing, aprons, tea cup totes, and linens to include tea sets and accoutrements. Another step I took to gain exposure was to join a women-owned boutique mall and networking website, Make Mine Pink. Along with the daily website exposure from having a 2nd level boutique at MMP came opportunities to participate in various magazine ads that would have been out of reach financially for a new business. The exposure brought traffic to my website and my customer base grew steadily.

Has any piece of advice you may have heard or read been especially helpful?

Find your niche and promote it and yourself. Don’t be afraid to let the world know that you have a great product.

How long has it been since you first started selling your items?

On SweetNecessi-Teas.com–2 years. Before that as Dressed for Tea–in 2003.

What have you learned since you launched that you wish you could have known before?

Network with other like-minded entrepreneurs. Blog. Market in the right places. Spend advertising dollars where your target market is.

What kind of advertising have you found the most useful for getting the word out about what you have to offer, why?

Going back to the previous question– This year I finally took the plunge and began running ads in TeaTime magazine. My sales have tripled. I wish I had done that sooner. I am very selective of where I spend my advertising budget now. But you can also promote your product for free through blogging and networking (link exchanges are great). It is very effective.

How do you manage your time to work and time with your family?

I am an early riser–5 am. I work on the computer while my family is still sleeping. Then, once the school day has started, I take photos, sew and pack orders. I try to be done by lunchtime and spend the afternoons taking care of household stuff and running errands. I drop off my shipments when I run errands. (I drive past the post office and Fed Ex every time I go anywhere because both are just a mile from my home.) I still clean my own house, cook, and drive my daughter to dance lessons after school, etc. If I need to work on an order, I do, but try to balance my time with my family as much as possible.

Do you have any advice for other moms looking to launch their own business?

Don’t be afraid. Just do it. Learn all you can about business, accounting, and marketing first, but then just take the leap. You can start small and grow. Set goal–short and long-term, write them down ,make a plan for achieving them and follow through. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish when you take it one step at a time.

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