When Julie Ricceri won a bag of tea from a Facebook contest hosted by The Papillion Tea Shop in 2016, she had just retired from a thirty-two-year career as a special education teacher. Married for thirty-three years and the mother of an adult daughter, Julie was looking forward to a new chapter without any idea that winning that bag of tea would become a pivotal moment in her life.
When Julie visited the tea shop to pick up her bag of tea, she chatted with an employee who was resigning. Julie, who was seeking work a few days a week, was eventually hired by Diana, the owner of the tea shop. Diana had cancer and needed someone to manage the shop while she received treatments. As a friendship between the two women developed, Diana confided in Julie that she wanted someone to take over the shop if the cancer ever became untreatable, perhaps five to ten years down the road. While Julie and Diana contemplated partnering together in the business, Diana traveled to Florida over Christmas. When she returned, she was too ill to work. Julie adds, “She was only able to make it in one more time before she passed away.” Her death left her grief-stricken husband, Des, with the overwhelming task of managing the shop as well as Diana’s affairs. After Julie agreed to stay on and run the business, she asked him to consider renaming the shop, Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop. He agreed and a year later, Julie purchased the shop from him.
Although Julie has always loved tea, she only drank unflavored green tea for its immune boosting power. Once she started working at the tea shop, she began learning about the health benefits of all teas. Today she definitely considers herself a tea aficionado who is passionate about the advantages of drinking a variety of teas cultivated from around the world.
While owning a business was daunting at first, Julie was inspired by Diana who she says had the imagination and unique abilities to open the shop. Diana’s husband, Des, offered great advice: enjoy every moment. “He didn’t want me to feel guilty about taking over the shop,” Julie adds. Before she tackles anything new, Julie always asks herself, “Would Diana like this? Is this something she would do?” Today, Julie has transformed into a confident entrepreneur who is slowly adding her own unique touches to the shop. Recently she added more tables and a cozy sitting area—a decision that has been very popular with her devoted customers. Her biggest challenge has been determining how much inventory to purchase and finding a balance between the demands of entrepreneurship and her need for occasional downtime. Her biggest surprise is how many of her customers have become her friends. “It really is a blessing,” she says, “I have a whole new set of people in my life that I would not have ever known had I not won that bag of tea!”
Julie’s husband, Ben, is her biggest supporter. He helps her with the books, cleans the shop, and assists with preparations for special events. Her daughter, Nina, also provides encouragement along the way. Finally, Diana’s family always expresses their gratitude to her for keeping the shop open.
Every day, Julie opens the shop at 10:00 a.m., ensures the tea is ready for sampling, stocks the shelves, checks on orders, answers customers’ questions, makes drinks, and chats with the customers. When asked what one word best describes her life today, Julie answered, “Full.” By pursuing her passion, Julie has gained a sense of satisfaction that comes with loving what she does. Although she never expected to be an entrepreneur, Julie has settled quite nicely into her new role and openly embraces everything that goes along with it. When she greets her customers warmly and offers them a place to decompress and enjoy a cup of flavorful tea, there is no question that Julie has found her home.
Diana would be so proud.
Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.