Voss Boss Entrepreneur Spotlight — Christine Lilyholm, Owner Of Stonehouse Teas
For many entrepreneurs and small businesses, social media can be an absolute game-changer! All it takes is one viral post and a business can suddenly take off.
At Like A Voss Inc., we’re highlighting local businesses and entrepreneurs who are killing the online game. This week’s spotlight is on Christine Lilyholm, Owner of Stonehouse Teas!
Stonehouse Teas offers over 120 different types of loose leaf teas, locally roasted organic Aroma coffee and other local products such as pottery and honey. We carry everything you need to make the perfect cup of tea including teapots, strainers, tea cups and travel mugs. We have a full-service cappuccino bar and serve other specialty drinks like our famous chai latte. We offer a large selection of cold beverages including bubble teas, frappes, iced teas and Italian sodas. We have fresh baked scones and muffins daily and a selection of cakes and cookies including our famous carrot cake.
Our CEO Mandi interviewed Christine about her secret to success in business and in life. We also got some awesome insights into what they think makes social media such an effective tool in business.
A Little Bit About Being an Entrepreneur
1: How long have you been in business?
Stonehouse Teas has been in business since 1996. I purchased Stonehouse Teas in the Fall of 2016 so it is coming up to 5 years that I have been an entrepreneur. As far as being in business, I have been in the industry of running other people’s businesses for most of my career.
2: What made you decide to break away from the 9–5 and start Stonehouse Teas?
I have never had a 9–5 job so for me a transition to ownership wasn’t a big switch on how I have spent most of my career. I have been a Chef for many years which involves evenings, weekends, holidays, and very long days. When I started my teaching career most of my teaching was evenings and long days as well.
For me I was ready to dive into something of my own, something I knew I could work hard on and be proud of my accomplishments. For me entrepreneurship seems like something I have been working towards my whole career.
3: What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
For me one of the most amazing parts of being a female entrepreneur is mentoring other entrepreneurs and young girls. Being able to set an example of how rewarding hard work, collaboration and community can be.
4: What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome as an entrepreneur?
I have been overcoming obstacles my whole career. I was a Cook and Chef in the 1990’s before it was popular for women to work and be in charge of a kitchen. I then began teaching cooking in a male dominated industry. For me being a female entrepreneur has been easier than my other jobs. I am surrounded by other female entrepreneurs, female lawyers, female accountants, female employees. For me I am past the concerns of being a female and just consider myself an entrepreneur.
5: What is one thing about working in your industry that people would be surprised to learn?
This is not a surprise to other entrepreneurs but for people, perhaps. There is no off…you are always thinking about your business. Whether it is being creative and planning for the future; thinking about things that have happened in the past, learning from them and moving forward; or just trying to get up and go today; there is never an off button or closed sign for you. When people say they eat, drink and sleep their business it is true. Very rewarding but true.
And Now Onto The Social Media Questions!
6: Do you have a favorite social media platform? Why?
I do seem to go back and forth with Facebook and Instagram. For me I love the more detailed interaction I have with my customers with more comments, and messages I get from Facebook. Personally though, I love to scroll through Instagram for new posts and inspiring photos. For me they both play an important role in my business.
7: What made you decide to start using social media as a way to promote your company?
When I first purchased Stonehouse Teas, social media had a very small presence and I was not personally on any social media. I had to be sold about the positives of social media. Since then I have found that this is a great way for me to connect directly with my customers. I don’t always get a chance to visit with or see customers on a busy day so being able to sit down and reply to comments and answer messages gives me a way of connecting outside of the walls of the business.
8: How has social media impacted your business? Would you say that it’s an effective marketing tool?
For Stonehouse Teas, social media has had a very big impact. As the followers began to grow I realized how invested my customers were. Our customers are very engaged with our accounts and we have a lot of regular followers. I believe social media can be an effective marking tool. I hear a lot of people say it is free marketing but that is not true. In order to be an effective marketing tool, you need to invest a lot of time and effort. You can’t be on and off or just randomly boosting posts for quick return. ]You need to be able to look at your ROI. Time is an investment and you need to be able to measure this. I have been happy with my results but there has definitely been an investment to make this happen and a learning curve.
9: What advice would you give to other businesses and entrepreneurs who want to use social media as a way to connect with customers?
If you want to use social media as a way to connect with customers, be sure you are present. You need to be consistent with your messaging and available to respond and engage with customers. You also need to be willing to invest your time even when in the beginning you may not see a lot of return. I would also suggest getting tips and advice from an expert or professional. They can help you get started as well as set you up to be able to track your ROI. You need to remember you know your business the best and in turn you are the best person to engage. You need to be committed.
A Little More About Christine
After spending a career in the Hospitality industry as a Cook, Chef, Food & Beverage Manager and Culinary & Hospitality Instructor it was time for me to venture into business. Everyone thought I would always open a restaurant but I have found that my skills are so transferable that I am able to dive into a business that dabbles in food but also has a focus on beverages, retail and customer service. For me in life, I am in a time of teaching and giving back to the next generation of cooks, chefs, businesses and young adults. I love sharing my knowledge and experience to help others turn their obstacles and challenges into opportunities.
In my spare time…not there is much…I love sports. I still throw on my skates and play hockey and grab my broom for a curling match. I enjoy an afternoon wine tasting with friends as well as curled up with a great book.
My goal is to continue to find balance as an entrepreneur and to create a lifestyle that enables a personal and work life to co-exist. This is probably my biggest challenge to overcome when I have a creative mind and a never-stop personality. This is also my biggest opportunity as an entrepreneur to continue to grow, and build.
Know Any Voss Boss?
Do you know a Voss Boss who loves social media as much as we do? Leave a comment with her name or the name of her business and we’ll find her + reach out.