Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hey Etsy, what about us?

Hello TeaLovers!  Let's set the WayBack machine two years, shall we?

A couple of years ago, when we started selling a handful of tea blends over on our Etsy shop, we were enjoying the bounty of a Craft Market.  Etsy only allowed things that fell into the hand-made category.  This actually hurt us a little bit, because we couldn't sell ONLY tea infusers or spoons (because someone else makes them, so selling them as exclusive, on-their-own items was out) but we managed nonetheless.

This company was founded and built on Etsy sales, and the idea of the Craft Market.

The people who shopped on Etsy were OUR kind of people!  A little kooky, with a dash of crunchy, and sometimes more patchouli than a reasonable person should own, but our kind of people nonetheless.  We love 'em.

And then something happened.

We have started to see our Etsy sales taper off.  Not hugely, but as someone who watches trends in sales, and looks fo ways to keep them up I noticed the decline.  And the decline has been steady.  Overall our sales have been increasing, but when looking at JUST the etsy orders, we are even seeing reduced traffic and engagement from our Etsy ad's that we place.  Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

So I did some digging.  Turns out that Etsy has stopped being a craft marketplace.  Shannon Whitehead has a good writeup on the full detail of it, but it comes down to the fact that Etsy isn't in it for the craft culture anymore.  We are competing now with manufacturers (NOT Crafters) overseas who are making similar products at a fraction of our costs, and flooding the market with low-quality, low-price products.

While searching for Loose Leaf Tea, our La Sirene blend comes up as the second item, but if I search for "Tea Infuser with Charm" I get a page filled with tea balls that have cheap trinkets attached to them, some of them shipping directly from China, and at nearly HALF of our listed price.

When we list a Tea Infuser with a charm, we purchase the infuser (after having tested dozens of different styles), we have hand picked each charm that goes on them, purchased from small vendors, we then hand wrap every wire in the charm so that we are sure that it is secure and won't fall off, We personally attach each charm and check it and the infuser for defects, put it in a nice little bag, and package it up with a little bit of Dryad flair.  All of this, because we want you to have a QUALITY product, that you will love and enjoy.

Etsy used to be about supporting the little guy.  Sure, things bought on Etsy might cost a little bit more than something you could buy from a Big-Box store, but by the same token, you knew that your dollars were going DIRECTLY to the creator, and you were supporting a PERSON behind the shop.

With this shift in Etsy policy, and the massive influx of shops, you are more likely to be supporting a Big-Box company wearing a fancy hat, rather than a little guy trying to make a good product.

Today, everyone is aware of every dollar that they spend, sure.  I am not going to tell you that you shouldn't count your pennies.  But I am going to say that if you WANT a craft product, if you are looking for that UNIQUE and SPECIAL something, keep an eye on the shop that you buy from, and be sure that you really are buying from a crafter rather than a retailer trying to edge out the little guy.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The new shiny haul

Once a year I go to the huge (7 location) wholesale gem show that comes through Denver. Once a year I restock all of the beads and gems that will be used for infuser charms.

Here's a peek into this year's haul:




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Retired Teas

There is limited stock on hand ( only) and once it's gone, it's gone!

Retired teas: Dryad, Exodus, Firiel Neo-Valkyrie, Kelpie, Jonin, Riana Thorindal, and Shadow Grove.

Online only teas: Maid in Bedlam, Paradise Lost, and Requiem.

Finally, at the start of the Fall Equinox all Court teas will be cycled in and out corresponding with their seasons. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Back in the saddle?

Here at Dryad Tea we're trying to do "all of the things" and sometimes things fall between the cracks. Like this blog.
See, Dryad Tea is really about 1.5 people. You have Rubiee, who creates all the blends, responds to emails, photos all the product, uploads the product, packs the orders, works on all the extra projects... and more. She does everything Dryad, all the time.

Then you have TeaMonkey, he works on facebook posts if Rubiee doesn't beat him to it. He also helps where he can, but works a full time job. He helps with a lot of the order packing.

Delrein is another part-time helper that has a full time job. He helps packing orders and packing tea when he can. He's also seen most often working Dryad shows.

That is the base and core of Dryad. It's worked with very few hiccups so far. Lots of learning experiences too. We here are Dryad Tea HQ are also very lucky to have a secondary support system:

Dame Ursula takes care of all of our Tea Duelling (and is amazing at it) she can also be seen working at shows.

Leigh is a booth bunny, she rocks at her job. She's one of the main line booth workers with Del.

Puck helps with a lot of the tea packing. The Kickstarter? He helped with that too. He's also been known to help with orders, and pretty much anything Rubiee needs.

This is our support system, this is how the world of Dryad Tea works. Support systems are incredibly important to have. They make sure that you're encouraged, and they catch you if you fall. In Rubiee's case the support system is also there to make sure that she doesn't work herself sick. Operating hours? What are those? She seems to think she can respond to emails at any and all hours of the day and often her support system *gently* encourages her to take some time to herself. She's learning.
All of us are working on getting better at a lot of things as a core group, and it's amazing to have such great people to help!

So the question is; Who's your support system?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The State of Dryad 2013 - Announcements

Just a few "announcements" for all of Dryad Tea's amazing fans and customers:

The following teas are going online only as of January 1st 2014: Dryad, Exodus, Kelpie, Maid in Bedlam, Paradise Lost and Shadow Grove. (If you make special arrangements we can always bring them for your order at a show.)

Also, as of January 1st, 2014 we will be raising our prices. This is something that we have fought against doing for the past year and a half, but supply costs are increasing and in order to keep the business in business (to get you the teas you love!) we are going to have to increase our prices as well. 1oz of tea will go to $6 and samples will be $2.50.

We will also be offering pre-orders of all of our SJ Tucker-inspired teas. After all of the Kickstarter rewards go out we will be announcing pre-orders on our facebook and newsletter. Pre-orders will include either an ounce or a sample (depend on which level you pick) of each of the teas. If you do not get in on the pre-order we are releasing in two volleys, so you will have to wait until February for all 19 of the blends to go live.  

Thank you all for your support through 2013, we are super excited for an amazing 2014!!!

Dryad Tea.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Inspiration: Count Cisco's Earl Grey Tea

Count Cisco's Earl Grey

Do you ever come across an Earl Grey and think to yourself that it smells... stale? I have too. A good Earl Grey seems to be something that's hard to find, which is weird considering it's one of the most popular black teas.

I spent a number of months researching, tasting, blending, banging my head against walls... and then I stumbled into this.

Named after the character of one Mr. M. Gomez, this is a super fresh Earl Grey blend that I am rather happy with. Have you tried it? What do you think?

On Etsy

On our Website

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Facebook and the Decline of Small Business

As I was eating breakfast this morning, and idly flipping through Facebook on my iPad, a disturbing article popped up from a couple of different pages that I follow.

THIS ARTICLE, posted by the UK based site "Business 2 Community" outlines that a recently leaked slide deck from the Facebook offices indicates that pages - such as non-profits, fan-pages, and even our beloved SMALL BUSINESS will slowly see our visibility in user feeds trimmed down, unless we start to shell out the cash to bump that up.

As of this writing, Dryad Tea is hovering at about 1,250 fans on Facebook.  I watch our posts, and see who we reach, and just how much people interact with our content.  Based on these numbers, we try to post more of what we see that people interact with the most.  But a disturbing trend has come up that our posts have been seen by fewer and fewer people.

If we say that the average Facebook user has 130 friends (based on THIS) and that each one of our fans comments on a single post made by us, that comment should appear in the feeds of their friends.  Meaning that a single post from Dryad Tea has an average possibility of reaching 162,500 people.

That is quite the impact, right?

Not so much.  Our posts, on average REACH about 200-300 people.  That is LESS THAN 1% of how many people that potentially COULD see our posts.  And considering that Facebook has over a BILLION active accounts - well, we are pretty well just a drop in the teacup.

As a small business, with none of us working at this full time, we really don't have the availability to pay for advertising.  To put it into perspective, Dryad Tea posts every single day of the week, on average about twice per day.  In the last year we have only paid for advertising a handful of times, right around the major shopping times, or as we were working on our Kickstarter campaigns.  The amount of traffic that we saw during those times was, overall, not all that more significant than our organic traffic - posts that we hadn't paid for.  But now, we are going to be pushed into paying for ANY traffic at all?  That is a low blow.  We just can't afford to do it.  

The people that work for us, those crazy folks you see at shows trying to get you to buy our tea, do this for free.  Heck, even the boss doesn't bring home money from this.  The business pays for itself, but not much more.  Every so often we get Chinese food for lunch, but otherwise, we help so that we can EVENTUALLY start to do this full time.

And now Facebook wants to push us back down, because we don't line their pockets.  Our ability to REALLY connect with our fans, our customers, and the people who are true FRIENDS of our business - that ability is going to be limited, and all but cut off, because we just can't afford to push that visibility up.

With that in mind - We will still be using Facebook, of course, but we want you to REALLY have access to our company.  We want to interact with our fans and friends.

You can find us here, of course.
And if you head over to the DRYAD TEA WEBSITE you can access all of our shops over there too!

Thank you, to everyone for helping us with this dream.  As we continue to grow - and believe me, this year has been one of exponential growth for us - we will try to funnel some money into keeping our page visible on Facebook, but until we get a little bigger and start generating some more sales, it might seem quiet over there.

The best way that you can help us?  Tell your friends about Dryad Tea, give it as a gift, horde it like a dragon, share this post, share ANY post.  Most importantly, though - Believe in Small Businesses, because without that belief and support, we wouldn't have gotten this far.

~The Dryad Team