Periodically, we mention our entrepreneurs at My Cup of Tea. Cheryl, Deborah, L. Cool and Rosalyn, with the support of volunteers, started micro enterprises to generate additional income in the areas of monogramming, sewing, furniture refurbishing, and jewelry-making and wig sales.
We began referring to them as entrepreneurs in the traditional American, capitalist context in which a person has an idea and takes the steps to monetize and hopefully profit from it. The word entrepreneur is a fairly modern word in that it is less than three centuries old. It comes from the French word entreprendre, which means “to undertake” or when referring to a person “adventurer.” Clearly, the My Cup of Tea entrepreneurs hope to make a profit, but the original meaning of the word may be more apropos in that each are undertaking an adventure requiring hard work, ingenuity, and courage.
Furniture Refurbishing (L. Cool)
Cool was hired at My Cup of Tea to perform general maintenance and to the keep the grounds. She does both with pride and great skill. As a child, L.’s mother would give her the job of putting together a piece of furniture or a shelf
purchased on a shopping trip, and she delighted in the task. At home, L. tinkers in her garage and enjoys woodworking. These abilities opened the door for L. to work with My Cup of Tea volunteer, Shelley, who has broad experience restoring and selling antique furniture. Shelley has helped L. learn to identify antiques and has helped L. gain experience in the use of various refurbishing and refinishing techniques.
Besides her skills and love for the work, what makes L. Cool so good at working with furniture is patience and persistence. The pieces she refurbishes didn’t devolve into disrepair overnight and restoring them to greatness doesn’t happen overnight either. L’s own experience with addiction required three failed attempts to get sober before she was finally successful. This year, L. celebrates 26 years of sobriety and a growing small business.
Cheryl can monogram almost anything. From towels to purses to My Cup of Tea uniform shirts, Cheryl beautifully personalizes all sorts of items for customers.
Like the other entrepreneurs, Cheryl monograms to make extra money, but more than that she has a gift for bringing joy to others, and monogramming is one way she does it.
Cheryl is full of energy and knows many of our customers by name – but they all know her. They remember how enthusiastically they are greeted, how knowledgeable Cheryl is about our products, and how interested she is in them and their stories. Cheryl puts this same love and energy into the monogramming projects she does.
Jewelry and Wigs (Rosalyn)
You may know that Roz’s initial business was selling wigs. There is even a wig shop behind The House in Orange Mound. We helped launch Roz’s wig business because of her years of experience working in hair salons and her amazing creativity. Roz is the person at My Cup of Tea who does most of the
wrapping and decorating of gifts and packages. However, there is substantial competition for selling and styling wigs, and Roz needed another outlet for her creative gifts.
With the help of My Cup of Tea volunteer, Catherine, a very successful small business owner, Roz has begun making beautiful jewelry. Her offerings include stylish earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. All of her items are reasonably priced and make wonderful gifts.
Beyond selling jewelry and wigs for extra income, Roz uses her creativity as a welcome distraction from the challenges she faces as the primary caretaker for her brother who is recovering from two strokes.
Deborah sews for My Cup of Tea and for her own sewing business, Deborah’s Creations. She learned to sew in a Home Economics class in middle school. At our recent Holiday Open House, Deborah’s festive Teacup Pouches were one of
our biggest sellers. The hot and cold therapy wraps that have been wildly popular over the last couple of years were sewn by Deborah as well as our tea cozies and aprons.
Deborah is an accomplished seamstress, but she is always willing to learn and has benefitted from working with her friends and our volunteers, Sandy and Beverly. Deborah’s pieces are so beautiful and popular because she strives for perfection in her work - not to receive any personal credit, but to please others. To be sure it’s right, Deborah spends hours sewing despite a health condition that makes it very painful to sit for long hours. She often steps away from the sewing machine to ease her pain but comes back a short time later to finish the job.
This holiday season, if you are able, please consider supporting one of entrepreneurs. There items are exclusive to The House, but if you can’t stop by, call us to hear what they have available, and we’ll even send pictures. Also pray for the manageable growth of their businesses and that we would identify other entrepreneurial opportunities for our other employees at My Cup of Tea who desire to pursue them. And, as always, thank you for undertaking this adventure with us.