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Business Dig: Pivoting During A Pandemic

 

In this episode of Business Dig, we welcome Shane Barela, entrepreneur and co-owner of The Scented Leaf Tea House and Lounge. 

 

Shane caught the entrepreneur bug while very young and honed his skills and his resilience in a variety of businesses until 10 years ago when he and his wife, Adrienne, opened The Scented Leaf Tea House and Lounge in Tucson, Arizona. Now they have two store-fronts, an online store called The Scented Leaf World House Tea, and plan to expand again to Phoenix in 2021. They were just awarded the best tea house in Tucson for the second year in a row.
In this broadcast, Shane will share his journey as an entrepreneur and share the story of how they started, sustained, and survived - and are now growing - despite the pandemic.
We invite you to watch as we discuss the following topics:
  • Learn how to pivot and thrive in these crazy times.
  • Shane shares the story of how the tea house concept began.
  • How a tragic injury was a life-changing event during his school years. He experienced a rebirth and change in personality to adapt and learn vulnerability
  • Always thought he would have his own business. Was always an entrepreneur as a child
  • Real estate and insurance were early careers. Too slow a speed. Needed to find his real calling. Wanted to be challenged more.
  • He asked others for insight and learned about opportunities at swap meets and bought a perfume business. What it's like wearing every hat in the business.
  • Was ready to expand and try something new. Found space on University Boulevard in Tucson.
  • Working seven days a week running both the swap meet and the brick and mortar store. The brick and mortar was not making it. Taking risks, learning and adapting.
  • Arizona SB1070 law created massive changes because his target market stopped coming to the swap meet. Shane recognized he needed to make a move.
  • Take advice from others with a grain of salt. You need to take your own path. Listen to people who are doing what you want to do.
  • Curiosity and asking questions are an important part of his success. Ask for help and see what happens.
  • Importance of getting his employees involved in decision making - brings everyone together, creates morale, and helps create a better product.
  • The importance of continuous improvement.
  • Pre-covid they were already going through a transition and made some changes that got them back on track, and then Covid happened.
  • They did not have to close due to Covid since they served food. He stayed open. Was committed to his employees and the business. Gave employees a choice if they needed to stop working. For those that stayed, he made it fair and equitable for the employees to work.
  • Major changes because foot traffic was down. Was able to reach out to his customer list and asked for their support to stay afloat by purchasing products online.
  • From April on, he concentrated on building the online site and made improvements and added products. Regulars also started coming back to the store.
  • Two sources of income are allowing them to get through this.
  • Keeping yourself relevant during this time is so important. People have created new routines during Covid and you need to be top of mind so you are part of their routine.
  • Make sure customers are greeted, confirm the customer is happy with the product. Ask questions when the moment is most important. Don't wait until you see it on Yelp. Create rapport with customers consistently. Not many places do this anymore. Keep the business vibrant.
What's next? Expanding the University Blvd. location to include wine and beer. Always looking for college towns and foot traffic. In 2021, plan to open a location in downtown Phoenix next to the campus there. When there is a downturn, sees the opportunity to do more. Shane demonstrates leadership, courage, and blind faith in that he knows he can do it.
 
Shane's tip: read The Alchemist. Ask and you shall receive.
Contact: Shane Barela - The Scented Leaf Tea House and Lounge
 
We want to hear from you! Share how the current situation has helped/hindered you from forming new habits, the challenges you face, and what you'd like us to "dig" for you.
Email us at [email protected] or comment below.
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