Two Roads diverged in a wood ...

Sophie McDougal photo

Hi, my name is Sophie McDougal, and I’m the author of this website. Thank you for visiting Cozy Cottage Tea Company. It is my sincere wish that you have enjoyed spending time here, and learned something new about tea, or felt inspired. That's our goal!

Cozy Cottage Tea Company has actually been around for about 15 years. It started out, like most blissful dreams, in my head. I enjoyed the serenity of drinking tea and planning my weekend escape! I also loved collecting beautiful bone china teacups and teapots, but couldn’t find any on the market, at that time, that suited my taste.

Following Your Dreams

So, in March of 1995, after a lot of research, I began producing and selling my own line of hand-made, hand-decorated bone china teacups and teapots. I approached local Tea Rooms and Gift Shops, and asked if I could display them in their establishments on consignment. They said yes.

And then I dreamed about expanding my line to include tea cozies, tea-shirts and quality, but relatively inexpensive, sterling silver teaspoons. I even thought about opening my own tea room or catering tea parties, but the amount of time and money necessary to operate either one of these enterprises, were too cost prohibitive for me (I’m an accountant by trade).

Dreams are Some Times Hidden Away

So time went by, and I put away my youthful dreams, and went about making a living. But secretively, hidden away in a small corner of my heart, still beat my dream of doing something that involved my passion for all things tea.

Does any of this sound familiar? Maybe your dreams don’t involve tea, or maybe they do. Perhaps you too had/have dreams of following your bliss. But something kept holding you back. Time? Money? Life circumstances?

How the Internet and SBI Helped Me Follow My Bliss

The introduction of the Internet has leveled the playing field for many people. And opened the doors wide for those who have dreams and passions they want to share.

But, like most people, I didn’t know the first thing about building or hosting a website. True, I could use a computer to send email, build a spreadsheet on Excel, but that was a long way from building a website to share my passion about Tea. Or so I thought.

That’s when I discovered SBI, short for Site Build It!. SBI not only showed me, step by step, how to build this website, but how to build a business on the Internet about something I’m passionate about—Tea!

SBI is made up of thousands of people, just like you and me, who are passionate about something; whether it’s hobbies, causes or dreams.

So, if there is something in your past, that you are still passionate about, don’t bury your dreams. Share them.

I did. And, as Robert Frost said in his poem, "Road Not Taken" ... that has made all the difference.

Best Wishes,

Sophie



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Some recent questions:

Q: Hi. I'm currently taking Nick's class (just finished). I really like your graphics. Did you do the graphics yourself or have a professional do them for you??
Regards, John



Hi John,

Thanks, I'm glad you like my graphics, and congratulations on finishing Nick's course!

I personally feel that the visual appeal of your website is very important. I know Ken Evoy (founder of SBI) and Nick really stress working on your content first. But I'm a very visual person, and I just couldn't get motivated to work on my website with one of the standard "topper" templates. None of them had the right "feel" to them, for me.

If there was one area I have to criticize SBI on, it would be in the visual appeal of it's templates. I actually like the look and feel of WordPress's templates better, but decided to go with SBI because of the ease of use for a beginner, all the extra traffic building pieces like Content 2.0, and the friendly, pay-it-forward attitude of it's forum community.

A: To answer your question, yes, I did my own graphics.

First, I went to the forums (on SBI) and discovered a free Mac OS compatible graphic software program called Live Quartz. I down loaded it, and after a lot of trial and error, I finally came up with a design I liked for my topper/header. I got the photo I used in my topper from istockphoto.com, again a source that was recommended in SBI's forum.

I used the standard "Lifestyle" template from the Look and Feel Selector (the one with the purple and green stripes) from SBI, and clicked on the "Customize Site Element" button and uploaded my "topper" and "left hand side image " that I had designed using Live Quartz, and then clicked "Select/Save this Style". The rest was build using the SBI blocks.

Would I do it again? That's somewhat debatable. Here are the disadvantages and advantages, as I see them in hindsight, to the way I did my "topper":

Disadvantage: It was *e x t r e m e l y* time consuming and frustrating! There was a long learning curve to becoming semi-adept at the graphic design software. Did I mention it was time consuming? :-)

Perhaps I might have used my time more efficiently in hiring out the designing of my topper to a graphic designer, and concentrated on writing more content. I might be further ahead than what I'm now.

From what I understand, that is what Nick and Rebecca both did. I don't know exactly how much that cost them.

Advantage: I got something I really like, which was very important to me. I now know how to go in and tweak my topper if I need/want to. I also have acquired a valuable new skill. One that I have already used to build the topper/homepage for my second website, on decorating for small spaces.

So for me, it was worth it. But each person is different.

I hope this was helpful. :-)

Sophie