News From the Louisville SBDC
Wild Dog Rose - a tea boutique
Walking down Bardstown Road on a clear and bright Thursday, I am excited to be visiting with my clients, Margaret Hamilton and Emily Gibson. They opened their business, Wild Dog Rose, on May 14, 2016. Margaret and Emily invited the community to tea, tarot cards and astrological chart readings to announce their grand opening.
As I close in on my destination, I notice the storefront sign. It piques my curiosity. It is a picture of a flower. Is that what a wild dog rose resembles?
Wild Dog Rose is an eccentric tea and book shop located in the heart of the Highlands. The community loves it. Wild Dog Rose is seemingly doing a bang-up job. Its beating monthly revenue projections by approximately ten percent, has a loyal following, and gets great online reviews. And to top it off, their August 7th tea class was filled by July 27th!
Once inside, I get relaxing vibes. I note the loose leaf teas shelved neatly behind the counter, see the healing crystals, books, and local honey resting on shelves throughout the shop.
Standing behind the counter and smiling brightly are Margaret and Emily. They greet me warmly and offer me a seat. I thank them for agreeing to meet with me and for letting me get “nosy” about their business.
I met Margaret and Emily last year through one of our workshops. While working with them I learned that these ladies are business partners who share no small amount of passion for tea. Wanting to understand how their idea evolved into an opportunity I asked where the idea for Wild Dog Rose originated.
“It all started from a conversation at a local coffee shop,” Margaret explains. “We both worked for Vint on Frankfort, but got to know each other at a mutual friend’s baby shower. Once the conversation started, we found that we could not drop it. We knew that tea has many health benefits, and we wanted to share this knowledge with Louisville.”
Emily pipes up and cheerily explains, “We have been friends for about three years but about six months after meeting, we started talking about doing something with tea. We learned that we both are passionate about owning a business and believe in the benefits of tea.”
I was intrigued, because I am from the rule of thought that friends should not go into business. I’ve seen a successful business literally rip two longtime friends apart. So, I ask, “What’s their secret?”
“We know each others weaknesses,” Emily responds. “I am more the creative person, and Margaret is the determined-to-get-it-done-person. We fortunately noticed that as we were developing this idea that we balance each other really well and were able to move through problems easily. We were able to lift each other up whenever one of us was stressed about a particular issue. There would be no Wild Dog Rose single-handedly.”
Honesty is always a great policy for maintaining a successful partnership. I decide to test it with the Wild Dog Rose ladies. “What’s your journey been like so far?”
More businesses? They just started Wild Dog Rose. But really? Why more businesses?
“It’s in my blood.” Margaret explains, “My mother and grandfather ran a courier service for over ten years.”
“And my father” Emily interjects, “owns Precision Printing (for 15 years). My mother sells artisan jewelry, Utopia, at Wild Dog Rose, Eyedia, and Cooper Moon.”
Still playing devil’s advocate I ask, “What scares you about running a business?”
Margaret flusters and admits “Failing. The money, numbers, and taxes. I am not a numbers person, so it is intimidating for me to handle the taxes and accounting. Fortunately, we have a great accountant!”
I appreciate the purity of her response, because most entrepreneurs will never admit to having this fear, but Margaret ponders for a few seconds and explains further, “When I knew that we were going to start this business, I started reading start-up books and trying to make a business plan. I started doing research and developing our idea. We did a lot of research on our products; eco-friendly, sustainable, and ethically sourced. We took classes and started meeting more people and telling more people about it. The more people we shared our story with the more people were openly willing to help us. Wild Dog Rose is entirely here because of all the people who have helped us along the way.”
Enough of the scary parts, what’s the reward for running your own business. “When people come in and thank us for creating this space and being legitimately happy that we have all of the things that they love so much. The customers are so comfortable with Wild Dog Rose.” Emily gushes.
Margaret raises her head and looks me square in the eye and says, “We sell tea obviously, but multiple people from different backgrounds have told me that we have created a really safe space for people, which is by far the best compliment anyone can give me. Having this be a safe space is very important to me, and I want to share this space with those people in the community who feel like they may not have a space.”
Before ending my visit, which has been enjoyable, I have to know the reason they chose the name Wild Dog Rose and if the storefront sign is a graphic of the herb. Emily clarifies why they chose the name, “We knew we wanted to sell things that are naturally healthy and beneficial. We saw the name Wild Dog Rose while flipping through a book on herbs. The plant got its name because it cures the bite from a wild dog. The name fit our personality because it is relatable to everything we sell in our store.” Margaret quenches my curiosity by laughingly confirming that the graphic on the storefront sign is a wild dog rose.
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