Tag Archives: Interviews

Linda Villano – Owner of SerendipiTea

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As we turned the corner of Northern Blvd and Plandome Road in Manhasset, New York the church on the corner was a familiar site. I had not been here in many years but immediately recognized the store front we needed. Along with my daughter, we came to see my friend Linda Villano who has created the best specialty tea company on the planet. Yes the planet. I say that because I am an avid tea drinker my entire life and tried many specialty teas which kind of makes me an expert. As we entered the smell of store was radiating fresh mouthwatering tea from all over the world. On display were some of the basic necessities for brewing fresh tea. Tea pots, cups, sample packs of tea and tea cloths.

There is a wall filled from floor to ceiling with every tea and tea blend that Linda created. Customers can come in and sample the tea or mix and match for an interesting creation. I have mixed and matched myself. I blend Eve’s Temptation with Berry Blueberry for a caffeine free fruity lift. My other favorite is Congo Bongo that has coconut and chocolate and black tea for when I need a boost.

Nearly 20 years ago Linda and her husband Tomoslov started with their love of tea and an opportunity. Their team work gave birth to SerendipiTea. The company imports tea from all over the world including countries previously unknown for their tea gardens. Linda works her magic buy creating unique tea blends and has a thriving wholesale and retail enterprise. To her many credits SerendipiTea’s website was nominated for “Best Tea Retail website” by the World Tea Awards (2014) and the proud winner of two American Tea Championship awards (2013)

After heartfelt greetings and the usual formalities, we sat down to talk about teas. Her huge oak desk has her computer, lots of paper and is stained with many previous steaming cups of tea. Linda stepped out of the office to fill two infuser tea pots. As a master tea server she came back with well worn tea cups and tea pots. Each clear glass pot looked as if it had seen many brews steeped in them.

Linda told us she is serving 2 blends: One is a Faux Coca which is a caffeine free based blend of Rooibos, Chocolate & Spice, the other one is called Buccaneer which is a south Indian black tea base blended with Rooibos chocolate and vanilla and coconut for my daughter.

Get ready for an education and welcome Linda Villano of SerendipiTea.

Purely Simple Words (PSW): Here we are in SerendipiTea’s home base with the beautiful and talented Linda Villano. What got you started in the tea business?

Linda Villano (LV): Oh boy that’s a long story but I will shorten it. SerendipiTea was started in 1995 that is close to 20 years ago. Which is shocking to me. My former partner and husband was from Australia, he was of Slavic background so drinking tea is an everyday occurrence. So we had tea in the house all the time. My husband thought it was an abomination to have tea in bags. So we used loose tea. I didn’t know anything but tea bags. I am from an Italian background we drank coffee and tea was for when you were sick, and I didn’t know anything but tea bags. So it was an education for me in the beginning just in our home.

My husband was working for a Japanese department store called Felissimo. On the top floor of the store there was an art gallery and tea room. He managed the art gallery. The tea room was a traditional Japanese tea room but not just Japanese teas were sold, there were teas in general. So he would go to the tea room, talk about tea, chime in when there were tea programs…eventually he became known as the Tea Guy.

He met a woman who had a bath and beauty line who asked my husband to develop a line of tea and candle products. He came from a retail background and I came from a restaurant background (my family had restaurants). So we started to experiment with different varieties of tea. The woman was not committed to the line and we already had the foundation so we created our own company. It started in our fifth floor walk-up on the upper west side of Manhattan. Before we knew it we had a business. We started in the food service area and specialty kitchens. Eventually we opened a retail line.

It all happened by an incredible accident. It wasn’t anything we planned. It was serendipity.

PSW: How many different types of tea blends do you have?

LV: In tea there are 5 main categories of tea: black, white, green, oolong and pu-erh. Tisanes are Herbals, florals, botanicals, etc. Everything that is not tea. Some tea is re-packed the way they are received. Others are used in blends. The blends represent about 30 percent of what we offer, blends can be both tisane and tea.

PSW: How do you name your tea blends?

LV: Darjeeling for example, is a growing region, Ceylon tea is from Sri Lanka is a growing country. Names of certain teas are what they are. The blends, the ones we make here are named by how they feel, taste, smell, but it should make some sense for example Fiji is a lush green tea with pineapple and papaya…tastes & smells like what I imagine Fiji to be!

Once Upon A Tea was our first chocolate blend. I created this caffeine-free blend for my friend’s daughter who was under two years old. She liked to sip tea from her mother’s cup, her mom was concerned about caffeine. This has a little chocolate in it, good for kids.

PSW: All of your products are organic and there are no machine used for weighing, measuring and packing is hand done plus your packaging is bio degradable. Everything is hand made , home made and fresh made and that is a very unique thing. Most shoppers go to the grocery store and buy boxed teas. However loose and fresh tea is very different and your product is the real thing. How did you learn so much about tea?

LV: When we started there was no tea education. No formal tea class. Everyone in the industry at the time learned from each other. We are known as the specialty tea industry. In the specialty tea industry now there are a lot of tea training options. And through the Tea Association of the USA there are intense certificate programs. It takes years get to the level of a certified tea specialist. The tea world is different now. Which is a good thing because as tea became more popular here in the US the consumer became more educated about tea so education had to keep up. The same thing happened in the wine industry. There are tea geeks that are passionate about tea, there are meet-ups, tea swaps, tea programs, tea groups, tea books, there’s a whole world of just tea drinkers, sharing information, and knowledge. There are some tea courses that are not very reputable. Check them all out before you enroll.

PSW: What countries do you travel to, to pick up your teas?

LV: I actually just got back in May from Guatemala. This is a surprising place to import tea from but we have been importing tea from Guatemala for four years now. They are also suppliers for cardamom. Usually it’s the big five India, China, Taiwan, Ceylon and Japan that’s where most of our teas come from. But we also carry tea from Kenya and Tanzania. I have not been to the African countries yet. But the others I have visited. I visited the Azores Islands 3 years ago which is part of Portugal and in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, half way between here (USA) and the Portuguese coast line. These are a series of islands that are absolutely beautiful. I was on the big island of Sao Miguel where there are two remaining tea gardens. The tea is great and different because of where it is grown and the salty sea air. I like finding teas from grown from unusual origins.

PSW: Do these companies come to you or do you find them?

LV: Both. The Guatemala garden reached out to us. Other companies have as well. The gardens in the Azores I had known about from a good friend of mine, Pearl Dexter the founder/past owner of TEA Magazine. She introduced me to them.

PSW: How do you think you have grown by having your own business?

LV: It’s a lot of responsibility. Shortly after we first started we moved from NYC to Connecticut because we needed space. I am familiar with Connecticut because I went to school there. We knew we could get more if we went to Connecticut as opposed to staying in NYC. Because it was just me and my husband we could take risks and we could wing it. When we started to take on employees it really changed the dynamics, I realized I was not just responsible for my business and making sure it is reputable. But I was taking on someone else’s livelihood. And I had a responsibility to them as well. What I do now, Tomoslov is no longer with us, is for everybody’s sake. I make calculated decisions and I weight everything very heavily. If I invest in something or make certain purchases, I am conservative by nature but when it comes to the business I am more so to keep the business solvent. My mantra is not to rule the world but to put out a good product and make sure everyone is happy. Then we can all do nicely.

PSW: What is the best part you like about the tea business?

LV: I love to travel. I love experiencing different cultures. Just the relationships we have with the growers in other countries is really enriching, it’s really important in order to maintain a sound existence you must be able to see things through other peoples eyes and experiencing life through other people perspective helps in so many decisions making situations. Just in the office here we have folks from Latin America, India, Tibet, Columbia, USA we have a really nice mix of people. We are an international microcosm as it is. We are different origins under one roof. In an ideal world this is how we should be. I enjoy interacting with other cultures because it takes me out of myself.

But I also love working with the tea, the blending process. This part is really, really fun so is the writing. And social media, like FB. Even though sometimes it drives me crazy. And once in a while we do shows where we get to interact with customers. Since we are wholesalers primarily we really don’t interact with customers so when we get the chance to do the shows and it’s really fun.

PSW: Is there anything that drives you nuts about running this business?

LV: there is plenty that drives me nuts. Doing payroll, taxes, the nitty gritty number crunching. What is moving and what is not. It is all a necessary part of what you have to do when you have a business you have to see every aspect of the business and it gives me a snap shot of what is going on. It is not my favorite thing. I am not a numbers person. To me that part is effort.

PSW: What are your business plans for the future?

LV: One of the things we did about 4 years ago was add a line of tea bags. It was necessary because many of our customers are cafe customers and tea house customers that have fast service like , morning rushes and they kept asking for tea bags and unfortunately we lost a few customers because they went with companies that had tea bags. A number of years ago a certain tea bag became available. (Linda shows us a triangle shaped tea bag). I know there are many types of tea bags available out there some are nylon, some are paper with staples but one became available that is made out of plant based material and over time it is bio-degradable. That was my biggest concern.

All of our packaging is post-consumer recycled content and biodegradable, we are considered artisan and boutique because we do things by hand. When you are so close to a product you see if something is not right or is inconsistent. No machinery is used and no energy is being wasted. So when the soilon tea bags became available I thought “someone is sending me a message” and we have to do it. We introduced a line of tea-bags in bulk for food service a few years ago and it’s only increased our sales in this sector. We just finished the Fancy Food Show which is a big trade show at the Javits Center in NYC for Gourmet Food. There we introduced a retail line of the tea-bags.

PSW: Which teas to do put in the tea bags?

LV: We have twelve kinds: everything is organic, Breakfast Tea, Darjeeling single estate, Earl Grey, Black and Blue which is a black tea with blueberries, Marsala Chai, China Green, Jasmine Yin Hao, which is a green tea with jasmine, Passion and Envy, which is passion fruit with straight green tea. Strictly Strawberry which is a caffeine free strawberry fruit blend, Peppermint, Chamomile, Coco Loco Nut which is a rooibos, chocolate & coconut blend.

PSW: Is the majority of your business in wholesale, trade shows or retail?

L. LV: The majority of our business is in bulk wholesale I would say that 75% of our business is food service. Selling to restaurants, cafes, tea houses, any one who uses our tea to serve customers. This is how we started. I feel comfortable in that business I grew up in that business. I am comfortable in and out of restaurant kitchens, that was natural. It was easier to grow the business in the food service area. We have a website and I probably don’t pay enough attention to making it more successful but it does OK , I know it could do much better. And that is retail based for the end consumer. We do have a retail line that we wholesale to places like Dean and DeLuca and Zabars and other specialty food stores. That’s the segment I am really trying to focus on with places like Fresh Direct, they carry our line. But that is the segment I am trying to figure out to expand because we are New York based and we are recognized in the NYC five boroughs, lower Westchester, and Connecticut. We have good representation on the West Coast and have a broker who has been working with us since 1997 who is great.

In the middle of the country people tend to carry us places. So if someone has worked in a restaurant here and moved out West they tend to take us with them I think if we do more exposure in retail shows people will know about it and ask for us and hopefully will increase sales overall. So that is where my focus has been these days.

PSW: Are most of your sales in the US?

LV: Yes the majority. We also have representation in Japan called SerendipiTea Japan. Also a sister company SerendipiTea Australia which is my late/former husband’s brother. He started this company 7-8 years ago, I buy the tea for them because they are basically not tea people, they understand marketing and placement and great sales. We have a long time customer in Seoul South Korea, she a former Julliard student who drank our tea here in NY and opened a tea house in Korea when she returned. We have a customer in Denmark of all places. They just find us in the oddest ways. There’s one here and there.

PSW: Would you like to add advice to anyone who wants to be in this business and what have you learned about being in business?

LV: The tea business is booming. It is a wide open area and if you truly love tea and would like to get into the business. There’s lots of opportunity, you can go to Linked-in where there are tea enthusiastic, FB, meet-ups and you can reach out to your local tea purveyor. You can contact them and see if they need help in any capacity.

Once you are in remember business is business is business, so we are not hanging around talking about tea all day. We are in a business. I love the enthusiasm of tea but if all you want to do is sit around and talk about tea it is not productive the business needs to run and to be successful and to operate it has to run like a well-oiled machine.

I am pretty strict about when we do have tastings. It is usually in the mornings. I will call and invite staff to taste and explain why and what I am doing. I have a library in the hallway with tons of information, books videos, for staff to borrow and increase their tea knowledge. We have periodicals also from time to time we will do crash talks about tea specifically. Enthusiasm about the product is wonderful and necessary, but most of the time it is a business.

Consider I did it at a time when I did not have any major responsibility so I could take risks and I knew I could shift gears and find a job if it didn’t work. Be cautious, plan, have more than one contingency plan. Just in case things don’t work out. Be positive. And hope for it to work out and do your darnedest to make it. There are so many resources available, take advantage of them! And where there is a will there is a way I firmly believe that and I am stubborn as they come. If I am told No it won’t work out I say Yeah you want to try me. You will figure it out, where there is a will there is a way. My other mantra is “Know your limitations”. That is for me to know when to ask for help. You can’t do everything, you can’t know everything. For example, I rely heavily on my accountant to answer questions. I am not an accountant I was never trained in business I come from an art background. So a lot of this is learning as you go along. Sonam (my assistant) is amazing with computers technology and software systems. She is fantastic and I rely on her heavily for a lot of those things. And other things like customer relations. It’s important to know where you need to be bolstered. And look for that in different people especially those who want to go along for the ride.

PSW: So there is no way I want this interview to end. But is there anything you want to add?

LV: I am so glad to see you and happy you are following your dreams of interviewing. It is your turn now. I am thrilled and honored to be one of your interviewees. Thanks and so nice to see you and your daughter.

PSW: Thank you so much for your time and I love you because you have been so nice to us. We will certainly remain in touch.

Absorbing the atmosphere and finishing our tea I sense an intimate family feel, everyone is happy and Linda is generous with her time and knowledge. She is personable and that is one of her greatest qualities besides her knowledge of the tea world. On the SerendipiTea website the knowledge continues. The Shop tab will bring you an extensive array of teas and blends. Click on Tea World and find: Tea Culture, Tea Recipes, Tea and Health, Universi-Tea, Tea Tips and Articles by SerendipiTea.

For more information and happy tea drinking go to: http://www.serendipitea.com
http://www.facebook.com/SerendipiTea
Twitter @SerendipiTeaUSA

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Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber of Tiff’s LIC(k) Dogwalking and Playgroups, LLC

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When you own a dog you are bound to meet other dog owners and dog admirers. On my many excursions to the dog park here in Long Island City, New York I met Tiffini Minatel- Schrieber when my dog was a pup. That was more than six years ago. I have had the honor and pleasure of her caring for my dog and helpful, timely tips for dealing with behavior issues in my dog. Tiffini is gracious, patient, caring, informative and a professional. It shows in her successful dog walking business. More and more residential property owners are becoming dog friendly as a way of attracting stable tenants and as a result dog walking is becoming a booming business.

Tiffini got in on the ground floor when she started and she will tell us all about it. Let’s welcome Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber of Tiff’s LIC(k) Dogwalking and Playgroups, LLC.

Purely Simple Words (PSW): Welcome Tiffini tell us: how did you get started in the dog walking business?

Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber (TMS): It was favor to my friends. My friend and old boss, Jimmy, just moved into a new building here in LIC and he and his wife just had a baby. At that time he had to go and tend to his restaurants in St. Martin. So that left his wife Jodi home alone with the baby and two dogs. She needed help with walks in the late evening when she was putting the baby down to bed but there were no walkers who worked late in the evening. She couldn’t leave the baby, obviously, so I would drive over from Astoria, where I live, and walked the dogs for her. She eventually found neighbors in the building who helped her out.

Back when I started here in Long Island City there were only two buildings, the Citylights and the Avalon, which is now the Avalon South because there is now an Avalon North. And they just finished building a third one. There are now more than ten newly constructed building and more on the way. This area is booming.

PSW: What year was that?

TMS: That was May 2007. The first dogs I started walking were Puli’s. They are the dogs with dreadlocks but the owner kept them trimmed. They looked like Poodles and they were show stoppers. People would stop me to ask what kind of dogs they were. As we talked about the dogs, they would ask me to walk their dogs. After talking to Jodi, she suggested that walking dogs would be a great job for me. And she is right.

So a business was born. I did have help from another friend, Nicole Billiot. We started taking business classes through SBA and SCORE, planning to eventually open a Doggie Daycare in the area. At that time there were none. Nicole and I started walking dogs and built a client base. She ended up getting a promotion at her “Real” job and decided to stay there. And I decided to keep on walking. She is in Miami now thinking about opening a doggie business. Hopefully she will.

PSW: What do you like the best about your work?

TMS: I am my own boss. I really like that. It is on par with working with the dogs. I really like working with dogs too. You can have the worst day in the world, but the dogs wash it all away with their unconditional love. I focus on the dogs and the playgroups and that keeps me grounded.

PSW: What do you dislike about your work?

TMS: The occasional bad weather. This year it was the Polar Vortex! WOW! However, I think now that I have been through it, my workers agree with me, it is the torrential, sideways downpour with wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour. No raincoat is going to protect you – you will get wet down to your underwear. These are my least favorite days. This happens three or four times a year. The Polar Vortex is easier because at least you can layer up and put your ski clothes on.

PSW: What kind of interesting clients do you have?

TMS: All kinds. Families, newlyweds and such that have a dog or two. One is a VP of Bravo network, I have another client who used to be head of security for the Yankees and now has his own security company and a gentleman who has his own construction company. I have quite a few lawyers and also business owners like myself who work from home. A very eclectic mix of people who all teach me something new when I meet them and their dogs.

PSW: Do you have a routine with the dogs?

TMS: Yes we have a set schedule. We start at noon. I don’t do morning walks. I used to be in the restaurant and bar business so I am used to later in the day hours and I have never been a morning person. From noon to 1:30 is reserved for individual walks. We give individual walks to older clients, those with special needs or those who are undergoing stress or don’t play well with others. Whenever we get a puppy they are walked in the first slot until they are old enough for the playgroups.

Playgroups are Monday through Friday, although I have been getting Saturday and Sunday bookings so I have started an early afternoon group on these days too. Our second group starts at 2:45 – 3:00 pick up which runs Monday to Friday too.

PSW: How do you decide which dogs are compatible with each other in the groups?

TMS: Most of the time I know the dog from observing them in the dog run. However, at first I do an in home interview where I meet the owner and the dog to see the personality. I take them on a few walks before putting them in a group. We greet other dogs on the leash so I can see how the dog behaves. Most of the time I already know if the dog will play well in the group.

The first group is great for owners who have to be at work early, at 8-9 in the morning. The second group is great for owners that have to be at work at 10-11 in the morning and work late. Most of the dogs get along. I have some dogs that are good for either group. And it also depends on what the owner needs.

PSW: Tell me the most out of the ordinary event that happened when you were walking a dog?

TMS: Our neighborhood dog run property was sold so we had to move our playgroups to the Vernon Boulevard dog run. Before the Vernon Boulevard dog run was renovated it was just a small strip of land there with chicken wire fence with slats of wood along the back of it. Behind it was an empty lot full of weeds and garbage and downed trees. Well, someone managed to put a hole in the chicken wire fence and Sheba Enu Paolo and Beagle Daisy went through that little hole. As that happened, I saw it in slow motion. Daisy went in first, and by the time I ran over there, Paolo took off and he went after her and both were gone.

I was screaming NOOOOOOOO! So I went in after them and jumped over the fence. The weeds were in full growth and six feet tall, it was hard to get through them. I couldn’t see the dogs and they wouldn’t come when I called them, so I came back to the dog run and instructed my other dog walkers to take the other dogs home. I then ran down 48th Avenue following the fence. My first concern was if there was a breach somewhere else in the fence and they were going to get out. I got up to the end of the property where the dogs had run into and saw the end of some train tracks. I panicked and thought they were going to run onto the train tracks and head to Long Island! The property is a LIRR mechanic shop and luckily the area was fully enclosed and not open to the tracks. I look over from Jackson Avenue and there is Paolo looking through the fence down into the garden area of The Creek and Cave restaurant – a whole block away from Vernon Boulevard by the way – with a big smile on his face. I ran back to the fence hole opening and clawed my way through the weeds and over a tree that had fallen, down a big hill which I basically slid down trying to get back there. I got Paolo and he was just standing there, heavily panting because they were obviously running in the weeds and trees. It looked as if he was so proud of himself and tired. It took me another 10-15 minutes to find Daisy. I found her and we got out of there. It’s 40 minutes later and I am cut up from head to toe. These two dogs had the biggest smiles on their faces and they were panting and had weeds sticking out of their harnesses. They had the best time exploring, while I was panicking. That was a scary moment, funny moment and a moment of relief all wrapped up in one emotional release for me!

PSW: You are very successful here in Long Island City and you are one of the first dog walking companies and have lasted for many years. What do you think the secret to your success is?

TMS: I would say there are two secrets: one is I offer something other dog walking companies don’t – off leash time in the dog run. I don’t do pack walks. I offer playgroups in the dog run. I am from the country, in North Carolina. Growing up, my dogs were never on leash, they would run to the woods, run to the pond, go swimming come back and flop in the yard. They had freedom. I like offering that to my clients, at least an hour a day of freedom for their dogs. That’s the one big selling point of what I do.

The other is relationships. My client list is small compared to some of the other dog walking companies. And that is on purpose. I have really good close relationships with my client owners. They know me by name, I know them by name. I know a little about them, they know a little about me. Every year I throw a holiday party (Christmas). I buy them food and drinks and we hang out and talk about dogs all night!

PSW: Is there any negative thing that happened that you learned from and changed the way you operate for the better?

TMS: Oh yes, there are numerous things every day. I wouldn’t necessarily call them negative, I don’t like to use that word. They are just learning experiences. Every day is a different day. You have a different challenge. Whether it’s the weather or the dogs’ moods, new building restriction – every day you have to roll with the punches. There is always something new. There are always little tiny “failures”. Something happens every day that doesn’t work that teaches all of us we need to adjust this, we need to do that. I can tell you on a micro level, this has taught me and my walkers to be ready for anything. Every day we have to expect changes. We can’t be rigid. We can’t go to work thinking things are going to go a certain way because it never goes that way. We can plan, but we have to be fluid!

This is another thing I really appreciate about this job, it is ever changing. Even after seven years I am still learning.

On a macro level, the major HUGE learning experience I had in doing this business has been recent, with my old business name LIC Dogwalking. I filed DBA papers to do business as Long Island City Dogwalking, or LIC Dogwalking for short, in August of 2007. I never took it to the next level by turning it into an LLC. Because of that, another dog walking company opened in May 2013 called Long Island City Dog Walk. The names are very similar and there has been some confusion from the buildings and potential clients as well as the clients I already work with.

Had I turned my DBA into an LLC, I wouldn’t have this name problem. My husband always reminds me that he told me to do this and I said “Yeah, Yeah” and I just didn’t do it. Should’ve listened to him! Ha!

Unfortunately, this business name issue was happening at the same time that my father was ill and passed away. I did consult three different lawyers and got some good advice. However, I decided, since most of my clients said they know me by my personal name and refer me out to others using my name, to let the business name issue go, because it was not worth the tens of thousands of dollars of litigation it would cost, not to mention the grief. I have to still work with this person in the area and I can’t work in a place with negativity and I think litigation exists in negativity and I don’t like it. So I learned from that to let it go. Just let it go. I made this mistake, now do the right thing and move forward in a positive way. So I changed my business name to Tiff’s LIC(K) Dogwalking and Playgroups, LLC. Now my business name is protected and actually better, I think, and I am preparing an announcement and new marketing campaign for fall of 2014.

I haven’t done much marketing because, in the past, I got most of my business from referrals and I only gave out business cards when I was asked. I was booked most of the time, so I didn’t think I needed marketing. However, I now realize that it is important. There is a time when a company’s name needs to be out there, clear and doesn’t need to be confused with another company’s name.

PSW: Do you have employees?

TMS: I have independent contractors. There’s a tax difference. Right now I have three walkers plus myself. I have a fourth who helps me out part time with dog sitting when I need her.

PSW: What are your future plans for your company?

TMS: I will continue to do what I am doing. Around this time of year (summer) we have clients who move so we will be looking for new clients. I’ll be doing a marketing push through my existing clients because they refer me. I will also do some fliers and brochures to get my new name out there. I will be hiring new walkers over the summer because one of my walkers is going back to school full time in the fall and another is moving out of the state. It’s hard to grow too quick too fast because of the nature of the playgroups. We have to know which dogs get along with which dogs. I have a 5 dogs per handler limit so we have to grow slow and organically. I will be doing that over the next several years. By the time I am 50 years old, I hope to be in a substantial place, retire and pass the business onto an interested walker. Or sell. I don’t want to be walking dogs after 50 years old! I will move on to something different. I am trying to figure out how to combine dogs, wine and travel.

PSW: Is there anything else you would like to add? Is there a wisdom you learned owning your own business?

TMS: Everyone should own their own business at some point. When I worked for someone else I was making lots of money for them and sometimes didn’t feel I was being acknowledged or appreciated for all the work I was doing. In owning my own business, I can now acknowledge everyone who works for me, give them what I felt I needed. I show my walkers and clients my appreciation for their loyalty and their business. Having my own business has also allowed me to give back to others. Which I love doing. I love helping others and being of service to others, and what I love about this business and this area (LIC) is the community focus that my business has.

I don’t just walk dogs in the area, I support the community. I was involved in parts of the planning phase of the Vernon Boulevard dog run renovation. I am involved in the local community organization DOG LIC, on Facebook. I participate in the monthly clean-up of the Vernon Boulevard dog run organized by this group. My dog walkers and I pitch in to keep the dog runs clean daily because we use them and the community is nice enough to allow us to do that. So you will see us always walking around picking up poop that someone might have missed or garbage that has blown into the run. I like giving back and this business has allowed me to do that. This business has allowed me to give to others more than what I have been able to do before.

PSW: It is obvious that you care very much about your work and are a good business owner and know how to handle people. I hope you have continued success for as long as you want.

TMS: Thank you very much Georgia for your time, interest in me and your friendship over all these years. You are truly a good person.

Tiffini and her organization are outstanding in there motivation to give our pups the best care they can give. This came from her finding her special path in life. That’s the whole idea of finding your path. It is the one that makes you happy and has the impetus to move you out of your comfort zone to become a wider, smarter, broader, giving, lively and better person. Being on your unique path inspires and gives permission to others to do the same.

I hope you take inspiration from Tiffini and move in the direction of your individual style. She took the risk of trying something new. Tiffini tries something new every day, has become proficient at it and gained confidence in herself. So can you.

 

To contact Tiffini go to:

 

Tiff’s LIC(k) Dogwalking & Playgroups, LLC

Owner/Operator – Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber

347-228-4158

Like our page on Facebook to see photos of what we do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Sackowitz – Writer – Personal Historian

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Karen S

I am re- re – posting because we are having technical difficulties on this side of the computer. This should do it.

 

Welcome the talented, energetic writer and personal historian Karen Sackowitz. She has graciously allowed me to interview her about her work. Karen is a prolific writer, business owner and busy mom.

Karen says she was born to be a writer and has done so for the majority of her life. Her personal writings eventually led her to open Sackowitz Communications and most recently, Your Stories Ink which highlights writing personal histories of very interesting clients.

PurelySimpleWords (PSW): Welcome Karen, thank you for sharing your experience with me and my audience.

Karen Sackowitz (KS): Thank you for having me.

PSW: You and I met at an Association of Personal Historians meeting a few months ago and I was immediately impressed with your energy and enthusiasm. I know you are passionate about writing and helping people through your talents. Tell me: what do you like about your work?

KS : Certainly, I have been doing a bunch of different types of writing including freelance commercial writing and marketing materials mainly for healthcare clients. I am also a freelance journalist writing for publications and magazines like the Boston Globe, Hartford Business Journal and Wilton Magazine which is in my town here in Connecticut. I also have my personal history business, Your Stories Ink.

The common theme between all of them is learning. I am insatiably curious and I love learning about things. For example, in the healthcare writing I may learn about a new surgical procedure, which is fascinating. I write the web copy for the hospital so their patients can get on line and understand what they might experience. I am learning about it and it is energizing for me.

PSW: Tell me about your journalism work.

KS: The journalism work is about meeting people and learning about their background and specialties. I did a story about a man for the Hartford Business Journal as a business subject – he was a funeral director and running a family business. I ended up talking to him for almost two hours because he is a fascinating person. He was passionate about his work, he went above and beyond for the families he worked with. He took his role serious and personally which he openly showed. This is the stuff that really gets me jazzed. I like to learn about business but especially about the people behind the business. This lead me to Your Stories Ink which is straight out “People” – tell me your story.

Whether you traveled around the world or didn’t, everybody has a story. Now I just get to listen and learn about them and be curious. The more curious I am and the more questions I ask benefits my client because they will learn more and more about the person they are capturing through personal history. I just love meeting and learning about people and their lives. This interest has come to me in many forms and that’s what keeps me going.

PSW: Bravo on your work, I know your are a very busy Mom and and entrepreneur. How do you have time to do all you do?

KS: I multitask where necessary. My husband accuses me of thinking I can bend space and time and I say because I can – what’s the problem. Kidding aside, I have learned to enlist help. When you start a new business it can be difficult because you hang on to every penny and end up doing everything yourself. Sometimes its just not possible to outsource anything, but I realize that outsourcing can come in the simplest form. Like a babysitter for eight hours a week so I can focus entirely on my business or write without distraction or interview someone. I make little investments here and there, like enlisting help where I can. I am here in F airfield County, Connecticut and my husband works in New York City so he’s not around much during the week. If I am going to have a business, clients and two young children it makes sense to hire help.

PSW: I see on your list of services you have experience writing speeches. What speeches have you written?

KS: Yes, I have written speeches. Some were for healthcare professionals who have been up for awards. I’ve written nomination as well as introductions for when they get up on stage and accept the award. Again it’s all about telling their story.

PSW: You have worked on many writing forms. What do you like to do the best?

KS: Right now I am really focused on the personal history part of my business because I am trying to build it. I have met the most fascinating people over the past few months just by putting the word out.

I met a man who started a tiny little dance school around here 50 years ago and now it’s a big chain of dance schools. Everyone knows him. Now I am learning his story. I met a former actress who is in her 80’s. Some stories don’t have to be flashy either. I have one client that is in the beginning stages of dementia, she said she did not know why her daughter wanted me to talk to her and that she really does not have a story. I answered with: Really? Because from what I understand you raised two girls on your own and worked three jobs to do it and you survived breast cancer. Let’s start there. That’s what I like about it too – making people realize that they have a really interesting story. People think they don’t but everyone does. That’s what I am really focused on and I love it.

PSW: What kind of product do you offer your clients? Will you put their story in a book or article?

KS: I am focused on books, I enjoy the written word so I have packages that start with typed manuscripts all the way up to professionally produced hard cover books with a jacket. We can incorporate photos or have a professional photographer. There are so many production options today that the book can be personalized and the client can order one or more books.

PSW: How do you balance your busy family and work life?

KS: Luckily I live in a small town so my children’s activities are within ten minutes of each other. I make sure I see my great group of friends, a girls night out or meet for coffee. I make social time everyday.

PSW: Are you still active with the group “Over 40 Females”?

KS: It’s been a while but they are a good group because they have interesting speakers and they go around the room giving you the opportunity to do a 30 second elevator speech. Also everyone gets a gift bag. You can put your promotional material in the gift bag. Your promotional material goes home with everyone. It’s a great opportunity to network too. I joined the speakers bureau which allows me to speak at an event. I realize public speaking is a huge marketing opportunity also.

PSW: You are doing great work, is there anything else you would like to add?

KS: I am pretty lucky to do what I do. I work for myself, meet great people all the time and I’m glad you are going to tell people about it.

PSW: Thank you again Karen for sharing your time and expertise with us. Good luck in all your endeavors.

Karen is an inspiration to me with her courage to be seen, show her talents and organize her professional and home life.

You can read about and contact Karen Sackowitz at: karensackowitz.com, Karen Sackowitiz Communication and Your Stories Ink on Facebook.com.