Women Will Create Meets... Delicious Monster Tea
Delicious Monster Tea feels like such a part of my identity after spending the majority of the past two years focusing on it, but outside of the business I am a 28 year old living in Cardiff. I live with my boyfriend in the house we just bought – although it feels very much like a squat at the moment as it needs a full refurb! I’m a fiercely independent person, I love to read horror and chick lit, I spend inordinate amounts of time in the bath and I dress like an art teacher that doesn’t own a mirror.
Delicious Monster Tea started completely by accident to be honest! I started teaching myself embroidery in early 2016 and made a lot of hoops after being inspired by all the embroidery artists on Instagram. I had vague plans to set up an Etsy shop selling hoops, but had been putting it off. Then I saw an embroidered t-shirt whilst on holiday in Amsterdam, thought “I could do that!” and did. I ended up with stacks of t-shirts I had embroidered, but was too embarrassed to wear them out of the house. One laundry day, I wore one to a coffee shop and someone approached me asking where I got it. The same day, I set up my Etsy shop, opened an Instagram account and the rest is history!
It started sloooooowwwwwly. Oh, so slowly! I started on Etsy in August and didn’t make my first sale until at least October. I remember writing myself some goals when I first started – one short term, one medium term and one long term. The short term goal was to sell 5 t-shirts by Christmas. It felt like that was completely unachievable, but very gradually sales increased as I got better at product photography and tagging keywords and I ended up making my 50th order on Christmas Eve! I juggled this with a full time job at first. Very well at some points, and very badly at others. Until about October 2017, things were ticking along nicely and I had plenty of spare time for general admin and business development at the same time as completing orders. I am fastidious at planning, and had very carefully organised a routine for my evenings and weekends. I didn’t have a huge amount of spare time, but I was enjoying building the business and still had time for a couple of long baths a week. But then Christmas orders started on notonthehighstreet.com at the same time as Fearne Cotton posting a photo of one of my t-shirts on Instagram. October to January honestly passed in a blur. I’m very proud of myself for fulfilling every order and not missing a day at work (I was still working full time at the same time), but my mental health took a big hit. My advice for people with a side hustle is to set aside an hour or so each week to plan out how you will spend the rest of your time that week, including when you will make time for yourself (long bath / cocktail night / Love Island binge, etc.)
Oh, so many things helped me decide to take the plunge! The boring answer would be that we finally bought our first house in March, which was a massive turning point. There’s no way I could have got a mortgage without having a permanent employment contract, so that was a big hurdle that we had to get over before I made the plunge. I’m a very practical person, so wouldn’t have made the jump without being sure of myself, the business and its ability to support me financially, BUT there was also an element of excitement in my decision to quit my full time job. I remember walking home from work one day last year and having the fleeting thought that one day, maybe, I could run Delicious Monster Tea as my actual job. And now there are only a few weeks until that will become a reality! I have a lot of ideas that I’ve been holding off on because there simply isn’t enough time in the day, but very soon I’ll be able to start ticking things off that list.
Growing up I wanted to be many things. A graphic designer. A forensic lawyer. A wedding planner. A jewellery maker. It changed regularly! Since graduating (in Economics), I’ve had quite a few different jobs – office admin, primary school teacher, nanny, maths tutor… The thing that I’ve learnt is that I hate being told what to do, and I like to be challenged. I’m hoping that running my own business full time will tick all those boxes.
If I could say something to inspire someone who may be not sure of their next move?Just do something! It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut, waiting for someone else to create an opportunity for you, or waiting to perfect what you’re doing before you put it out into the world. But just do something…anything! Your idea (whatever it may be) will never be perfect, nothing ever is. Think of one step you can take to help you get to where you want to be, and then do it. FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY!
What's next for Delicious Monster Tea? Well, before Christmas, I would love to start running some embroidery workshops. I’m not sure on the details, but I like to think that a mindful crafting workshop would run well in secondary schools or maybe just for adults. To start with, I’m thinking of doing some DIY tutorials online and see how it goes from there.
There are lots of other small businesses or strong women in business that I admire! Instagram is a great tool for finding other small businesses and learning from them. Just a few of my favourites at the moment: @potyertitsawayluv (boobs and ceramics), @jazmoodie (embroidered nudes), @tayneetinsley (gorgeous illustration of lovely naked ladies)…..there’s definitely a theme there!