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  • Writer's pictureB. Cooper

Annual Update: 2023

The year of trial and error, and planting seeds for new adventures.


2023 has been a pretty good year. While in some ways, T&C grew a little less than I hoped for, in other ways T&C shined in ways I never imagined. Moving my business to Tennessee gave me this amazing opportunity to rebuild the brand towards an avenue that wasn't possible in Oregon. Here, I can build the farm-to-table aspect of the business I always dreamed about.



Backstory


Now, I'm a pretty impatient person. When you announce you're starting a business a lot of people will tell you the first five years will be a struggle and considered a "loss" until you grow to a more sustainable point. I heard all that when I started T&C in a desperate attempt to pay my rent during the pandemic. I built it for two years while working full time, often times hitting 90 hours of work a week. When I hit the tipping point in Oregon, I realized the last thing I wanted was to do business there. Between the taxes, the legalities, and the tension in the city due to constant rioting, I never wanted to succeed in a situation like that. So I started all over 2500 miles away.


In 2021 I made the decision to pack up and move across the country, to a house with 3/4 of an acre five minutes from downtown. A house that is now known as my "Classroom Farm" or the "Foot In The Door House". In 2021 T&C only made $8702. But I was determined to make it work in Tennessee.



Comparing First Two Years, OR vs TN


Now I've technically run T&C for four years, two in Oregon and two in Tennessee. In Oregon I started this in April of 2020, yeah. A month after 'that' happened. It was an attempt to pay my bills in the few months where no one knew anything going on. A lot of people paid me in cash so trying to track sales was a bit tough, this was long before I had an online store, or a square. I wrote down pre-orders in a notebook and would deliver cookies to people's doors, where they placed cash under the doormat in exchange.


I didn't have my first 'pop up' until August, this was thanks to a family friend who ran a farmers market and really helped me learn a lot. That market only ran til November. I had a temporary job by the winter, in an attempt to build my savings back up after everything shut down. In my first year T&C had only $1080 in sales.


In 2021 I got a bit more serious about it, and got a more stable job in the spring. That summer I worked harder than I ever worked in my life. This is where those 90 hour work weeks came in. I moved across the county November 4th, with my savings and T&C's sales for the year at only $8702.


Starting back at square one in 2022:


Moving to TN was the best decision I ever made, and also the scariest thing I ever did. I was so focused on making money with T&C that I didn't bother to really make any friends until months after I moved. Putting my heart and soul into living simply, building a business from the ground up all over again, and going anywhere I'd be accepted. There were a lot of failures this year, but great learning opportunities. In 2022, I doubled my sales and walked away with $16,866.


This year, I am ending the year with $23,420. Now, the impatient person I am wishes I hit this number last year. However, I am so proud of myself with what I have accomplished. My first time around building this company I did everything in a desperate attempt to make money. Now, I am being a lot more intentional about what I do, and I'm building a company as slow and sustainably as I can.


Comparing my first time around to now, I've grown by 169%

2022 ~ 2023 Growth = 38.9%



What I've Loved & Hated in 2023


The biggest roadblock I encountered in 2023, and what I hated the most, were my own limitations. There are unfortunately only so many hours in the day. During the peak of my work season I had to cancel several pop-ups due to selling out and not having the energy or time to work more. Meanwhile in my slow season I tried to juggle several projects that honestly needed one or two more sets of hands. All in all, I learned this year that I can't possibly handle it all on my own if I want this business to grow sustainably.


I loved a lot of things about 2023. I had a great opportunity to play with different herbs and produce in the gardens, that may or may not make a comeback for T&C herbal tea line in 2024. We'll see.


I learned this year that Herbal Teas and my Baking Mixes needed to be more of a priority, because I could never make enough to keep them on the shelves.


Meeting so many new faces may be my favorite part of this year. I've seen a lot of customers become friends, and making people smile or chatting about how busy our lives are at pop-ups were really fun. This year T&C started to be recognized and has started building a following, something I am incredibly thankful for.


2023 is also the year that my family finally got to join me in Tennessee. A long two year process of moving, retiring, and planning, the complete opposite of my spontaneous and somewhat reckless move in 2021. (For those who don't know, I visited Knoxville for the 1st time in July of 2021, by September I became a homeowner, and by November I packed up my apartment and drove across the country. A very reckless and a whirlwind of 5 months). However, this is my first Christmas with other people in two years, something I'm very thankful to have.



Goals for 2024


A lot of possibilities have opened up to me in 2023, and the last few months I've heard from so many of you guys that you'd love to see more on my YouTube, a Blog, and even a Cookbook?! Those things were always a bit of a pipedream for me, seeing that I'm not very techy and my creative writing was always a side hobby.


However, I'm going to put in more of an effort to build this blog in 2024, and add to my YouTube channel. We'll see about a cookbook or a book in general, that's a HUGE project that may bleed into 2025. I'm also expanding the gardens once again in order to produce a lot more herbal teas, grown right here in Tennessee. This is the first time in a few years where I'm pretty open to what God has in store for me, just following wherever I'm led.


I'm hoping to create a whole side of the business that specializes in organically grown produce, herbs, and fresh eggs. In 2024 we'll be starting with microgreens, salad greens, and freshly grown herbs. I may start growing more produce and flowers this summer but it really all depends on how much I can handle.


Will 2024 be the year I finally hire someone? We'll see.


A look back on 2023:


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