Last fall, The Corporate Canuck sat down with Lauren Bowler, co-owner of Great Wall Tea Company, to hear her story of launching her first business.
What does Great Wall Tea Co. specialize in?
Selling delicious tea by the cup or by the bag, and ensuring that the experience someone has at our shop is special and personalized.
What motivated you to open your own business?
As a self-employed actor/singer, I was craving something really outside my comfort zone, and eager to learn more about business. And tea. I have strong opinions on how customer service can be used to truly improve someone’s day. Even a three minute exchange while getting a cup of Earl Grey can be a unique connection. Anyone can serve someone a cup of tea, but I wanted to create a business where a sense of community could develop, and it has. You can’t put a price on that. Interestingly, the knowledge I’ve gained in business has also helped my career in the performing arts.
What would you say is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome as a small business owner?
I’m not yet close to overcoming it, but effective time management while operating two careers is a constant struggle. I’m always looking for better ways to allot my time efficiently. I’m doing this interview from a hotel room while on tour with a theatre show, so hopefully I’m on the way to figuring out how to live both lives successfully.
What was the best advice you’ve ever received/given?
A girlfriend of mine (who has operated her own small biz for 16 years) first told me to multiply my start-up budget by 2.5-3 times. Boy, was she right. I’m not sure if I’ve given any great advice yet. Hopefully one day someone will quote me!
What are your top three favorite things about being a Small Business Owner?
Creative freedom, meeting/developing relationships with our wonderful customers, and the constant learning curve.
If you could go back in time, what would you say to the younger you on the day your business opened its doors?
You can’t please everyone all the time. Yes, it’s a cliche, but it is true. Focus on your vision for your business. That’s the important thing. And take help when it’s offered!
For more information, be sure to check out Great Wall Tea’s website HERE, or swing by their shop, located at the River Market at New Westminster Quay.