Nebraska

Living Her Passion – Julie Ricceri, Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

Julie Ricceri, Owner of Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

Julie Ricceri, Owner of Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

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.

Diana’s Tea Shop, Papillion, NE

Diana’s Tea Shop, Papillion, NE

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.

 For more about Julie and the tea shop, visit www.dianaspapillionteashop.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/papillionteashop/.

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.

Living His Passion – Caleb Pollard

Scratchtown Brewing Company partners (L-R): Shay Reilly, Jade Stunkel, Mike Klimek, and Caleb Pollard

Scratchtown Brewing Company partners (L-R): Shay Reilly, Jade Stunkel, Mike Klimek, and Caleb Pollard

When he was a kid growing up outside Nehawka, Nebraska, Caleb Pollard really wanted to be a farmer, just like his dad. But when life took his family in a different direction, Caleb instead attended college, married, and eventually landed roles in the private sector as well as in economic development policy and consultation. Through his work, Caleb interacted regularly with prospective and current small business owners. To witness each of them chase their dreams and work toward goals was incredibly inspirational for Caleb. From that point on, he was hooked on entrepreneurship. In 2008 as career advancement and family led Caleb and his wife, Christine, to the edge of the Eastern Sandhills in Nebraska, he had no idea that a yet-to-be-identified passion was about to begin brewing.

After marveling at the variety of beer in his local bottle shop in the early 2000s, Caleb started home-brewing with a co-worker. His venture into brewing was accidental. Caleb says, “I loved the creativity, independence, and connection to agriculture that was the beer industry.” After traveling extensively and visiting wineries and breweries across the United States, Caleb decided he was ready to pursue a new business venture.

The idea of founding a brewery in Ord, Nebraska, started as any good business does: over beers and a cocktail napkin in 2009. Once he met partners who were as passionate about brewing beer as he was, Caleb knew they had to pursue the opportunity or live a life of regret. Still, he knew that timing was critical and patiently waited for the right opportunity to transform his passion to reality. In 2011, he and his partners formulated their goals and plan of action. In January 2012, they established the company, sought financing, and acquired real estate in downtown Ord. On December 1, 2012, Caleb and his partners broke ground. Ten months later, they opened the doors to Scratchtown Brewing Company. In the summer of 2013, Caleb left his secure job and dived into the business full-time. Inspired by the advice of a former business owner—“You are either all in or you are not. There is no such thing as half-pregnant.”—Caleb accepted that entrepreneurship is not for the uncommitted. He adds, “It was a startling, humbling, and hard lesson to learn.”

Today, Caleb relishes in entrepreneurship that comes with three benefits: creativity is rewarded financially, the buck stops at his desk, and success is derived from a team effort. Whether times are good or challenging, he is thankful for the support he receives, both personally and professionally. “That engagement helps me work through the ups and downs of business ownership,” Caleb states. “Having a solid network of people that help you keep perspective is essential to getting beyond this self-is-my-business mindset.”

Scratchtown Brewing Company has evolved into a solid, profitable business. With a growing payroll and forty percent of the brewery’s business now outside of Ord, Caleb is thrilled to see Scratchtown bring much happiness to his community and beyond. He adds, “To have brand recognition in other states, not just Nebraska, tells me we’re building a reputation based on excellence and good storytelling. That’s exactly what we set out to do.”

Caleb has great advice for anyone wanting to pursue their passion in life. “Make sure your passion will actually make you money and make you happy … you can’t perpetuate a business unless it perpetuates itself.”

Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” When one walks into Scratchtown Brewing Company, sits at the bar, and samples one of their delicious beers while conversing with one of the owners, it soon becomes evident that Caleb and his partners are passionate about what they do and that determination fuels their journey every day.

Life has come full circle for Caleb. Now as a business owner who persistently sets and works toward goals, he is successfully chasing his dream—and perhaps in the process, quietly inspiring another young person who has no idea their own passion is brewing.

For more information about Scratchtown Brewing Company, visit http://scratchtown.beer/.

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.

Living His Passion - Mark Ervin

Mark Ervin hard at work in his home office.

Mark Ervin hard at work in his home office.

Mark Ervin first became passionate about art and drawing when he was five years old. He remembers lying on the floor of the bedroom he shared with three of his older brothers and watching his brother Bill copy, not trace, a profoundly authentic recreation of panels from his Peanuts paperback book. After grabbing a pencil and paper, Mark didn’t draw cartoons, but instead the back view of a Camaro and Mustang racing on a track. At that moment, Mark’s fiery passion for cars, racing, and drawing was born.

Years later, Mark decided he wanted to be a syndicated cartoonist and cartoon satirist and had already developed a five-year plan to learn the craft in a highly creative environment and then bring it home to Nebraska to become a freelance illustrator. On the last day of visiting his sister in Los Angeles in the spring of 1989, Mark and his wife, Jennifer, stumbled onto the California Institute of the Arts, a school founded by the Walt Disney Company that focuses on developing fully rounded artists, animators, and filmmakers. After meeting with the dean and showing his portfolio, Mark was accepted. That winter, just before semester break, The Simpsons premiered on the FOX network. By April, the studio was calling and inviting students to test for positions on the show. Mark quickly jumped at the opportunity.

After passing several challenging tests, Mark landed a gig as a background artist and quickly began working on proving himself to the director as he set up the scenes for the character animators. During the first hiatus, Mark worked as a character animator on the first season of Rugrats, and worked as a storyboard artist on their second season. In 1992, he returned to The Simpsons and worked as a character layout artist, drawing and animating up to twenty scenes a week. In 1994, he was asked to assist directing a show and in 1999, he was promoted to director. One year later, he hired on at another studio to direct episodes of Futurama where he remained until July 2001 when he and his family decided to return to his wife’s hometown of Neligh, Nebraska. Mark says, “I was ready to leave my 80-hour-a-week job and be closer to family again.” The Simpsons hired him as a freelancer until 2012 when studio budget cuts prompted them to release all artists working remotely.

During his final years with The Simpsons and beyond, Mark began rendering cars again. “I missed it and knew I had learned a lot of skills as well as a different approach on how to not just draw cars, but also to tell a story with the car as a main character,” adds Mark. As an automotive artist, he has created a brand, built clientele through social media, and developed a reputation for creating stories that contain memories and details that tell more about the car’s owner than the car itself. Today when Mark is not drawing cars, he is storyboarding for an animated show being developed for Netflix. His current goals as an artist are to one day publish two books in development, create calendars and coloring books, and write and illustrate a children’s book.

A Mark Ervin original, "Dart in the Dark"

A Mark Ervin original, "Dart in the Dark"

Mark’s biggest supporters are his large family and his closest friends. Pursuing his passion has provided him the opportunity to use his God-given talent to enrich, entertain, and mentor others with similar dreams. His advice to anyone interested in pursuing their passion is simple yet profound. “We do what we love for ourselves, but what we do influences others. We have a huge responsibility to make sure that what we do is edifying to others.” As an artist, Mark believes no one has to shock in order to be relevant. “There are far more people out there who appreciate the beautiful than there are those who enjoy the edgy. Artists should explore the edgy, but pursue the beautiful.”

Through his art, faith, and love for his family, Mark is a shining example of the message Lailah Gifty Akita once shared, “Find your purpose and passionately live it.” Every time Mark creates art and shares it with the world, he is an inspiration to others to do the same.

For more about Mark and to view his work, visit:

http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2015/04/28/mark-ervin/

http://markervin327.wix.com/-art-n-motion

https://www.facebook.com/MarkErvinArtNMotion/timeline

Another Mark Ervin original, "61 Special"

Another Mark Ervin original, "61 Special"

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.