What happens when an entrepreneur envisions a grass roots movement centered around tea and art? Create Tea & Art (CT&A) of course! Caprice Fox is building community by combining the comfort and health aspects of tea with a gathering space for local artists and their hand-crafted works. Caprice said, “People enjoy having tea to come to with the art. There is an enjoyment of the social aspect. I’m still learning how to combine them.” To keep CT&A sustainable, Caprice reached out to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Fort Lewis College. Caprice took over lease when the previous owner moved out of state. She first inquired with the Women’s Resource Center. “I asked, ‘How do I become a small business owner?’” They recommended SBDC. Caprice went to the SBDC website, read through their information and scheduled an appointment online. “It was very efficient.”
Caprice met with Mary Shepherd, the SBDC Deputy Director for the Southwest Colorado region. “Mary was over the top with ideas. She suggested I learn QuickBooks (QB) and consider areas to focus on like how to classify my business and register it with the Colorado Secretary of State, create a vision and business plan, and mentioned different ways to market myself.” CT&A was Caprice’s first retail business. She said Mary provided great council and looked to her as a mentor. “Mary wants to help people. She even came into the shop and looked things over. I thought that was going above and beyond.”
Caprice did attend the SBDC sponsored ‘Starting Your Business’ seminar at the Durango Public Library. This is a setting in which professionals from numerous backgrounds introduce and address entrepreneurs on proper business procedures. Caprice followed that with another SBDC program on QuickBooks. “The QB class was great for me to see where my expenses go and where bank records get recognized. It also has a profit and loss statement. This is a way for me to overview what I need to do for next year while I maintain good financial records.” For those seeking help with SBDC, they allow two personal meetings with advisors at no charge. Caprice chose to meet with accounting advisor and QB class instructor Laura Hokanson.
Caprice opened CT&A on Memorial Day and had her grand opening August 17th. When I took over in May there wasn’t much in the shop. I had to paint, add furniture and bring in artwork. I had a tea bar built over the summer. The Chamber of Commerce had a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony for me and the store was filled with people and artists. Mary and SBDC are the reason I got into my business with confidence. Without guidelines of where to focus my energy I wouldn’t have known where to put my energies. Personally, the business is a big adventure. I recommend people jump in, go for it, and do their best. This is the happiest I’ve ever been.”