We had the good fortune of connecting with Nenada Huffmon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nenada, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work life balance is something that I have been trying to master since I was in college – working two jobs and taking night classes while trying to meet friends and maintain current relationships. I am sure this is the case for so many of us! In most recent years, owning and operating several businesses, having a toddler under the age of two, and trying to enjoy quality time with my husband and family/friends all while maintaining self care rituals has had its challenges. It has also allowed me to really find my currently comfortable balance. I know that everyone is very different, but I do feel like I function best when I am busy. When I am busy and have my plate full, I really try to ensure that I can balance my time in the best way possible so that nothing gets neglected. Most times, the thing that does get neglected is self-care, which I have come to find is actually one of the most important. I will time block my days and build in time for each aspect of my life. Do I always succeed? No. But when I don’t, I have that accountability and can prioritize better the following days. Regardless of how full my plate is, I would always say that work and family time take priority. Work because it has to, but also because I absolutely love what I do. Family because it is my rock and it feeds my soul more than anything. I have been trying my best to learn when to say no and when it is important to say yes. Sometimes projects at work can wait so that I can build memories with my son, and other times, I need to take a peaceful walk in the park alone to clear my head and rejuvenate. One of my favorite quotes is “If it is important to you, you will find time. If it is not, you will find excuses.” I try to live by this daily.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We are a female run, family business comprised of myself, my two sister-in-laws, Paola & Bailey, and my mother-in-law, Dana. Dana is the matriarch of the family and the inspiration behind the business. She is a three time cancer survivor (breast cancer twice & leukemia once) who firmly believes in living a healthy and preventative lifestyle. She has always encouraged us to take our health into our own hands as much as possible and to consume lots of tea, raw honey, and general nutrients and whole foods. She is full of so much joy and lives a stress free lifestyle as much as possible, which is inspiring to us all. Her love for wellness and her beautiful spirit are the light behind our business and the reason we love what we do. While health and wellness are certainly one of our company pillars, family is the primary one. Because we are a family business, maintaining a balanced working relationship and putting the family aspect first is a must. This is not only true for the four of us, but also with our teams. We want them to feel like family as well, and to feel valued and appreciated. Our jobs consume most of our day and therefore should feed our souls. Where they work is a choice, and we always want our team to feel an excitement and a purpose to be here. Because of the many team-members we have had by our side since day one, six years ago, we have been able to grow to where we are today with comfort and trust – seven locations across three states and a blending facility where we can proudly create each of our own unique tea blends with quality ingredients and ethical sourcing. We are not stuffy! We want anyone from a first time tea drinker to a tea connoisseur to feel welcomed when they walk into our shop. Our primary goal is to educate our guests on the health benefits and advantages of incorporating loose leaf tea into their lifestyle. Our friendly & extremely knowledgable team is prepared to customize every single experience so that our guests can find the perfect products to take home for themselves and build into their routines. We love flavor – whether in our daily tea, delicious meals, or fancy cocktails. We want this flavor obsession to translate into our products! Paola, who is an amazing cook, is our master herbalist & blender. Her flavor game is like no other and it’s safe to say that our teas and spices are definitely delicious. When asked what we are most proud of – I would say it is staying true to our values: valuing family, being ethical & kind, and truly trying to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. There have been so many lessons to learn along this journey, and while it would be easy to get frustrated at a few of them, it is much wiser to to take them on as opportunities. I can honestly say that anytime we have had a roadblock, we haven’t let it hold us back. We’ve created new paths with the help of some great mentors, our partners, and our teams. The biggest lesson I think we’ve learned is to laugh at those moments. Laughter truly is medicine and it has helped us not dwell on the past, but rather push towards our future. All small businesses are bound to face these hard moments, but unity and positivity are key!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh man, I just love playing tourist in Durango! There are so many great restaurants/bars, outdoor adventures, and great shopping and people to enjoy. We would have to start our mornings at Durango Coffee Company with a fabulous cup of their Sumatra roast. It’s one of my favorite roasts ever and the ambiance in there is just so peaceful and perfect for company and good conversation. We would take our time strolling through town and checking out all of the adorable shops and galleries. There are so many gems! Urban Market, Maria’s Bookshop, and Durango Antique Market just to name a few. Great food would be plentiful and we would never run out of options – Primus, Himalayan Kitchen, Ore House, Zia Taqueria, El Moro, and so many more. Obviously depending on the time of year some white water rafting, some great hikes or mountain biking, and/or some skiing would be a must. We would end our nights at The Bookcase & Barber. Every single experience is so unique, the drinks are absolutely delicious, and the team there is so friendly and personalizes each visit.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This female run family business of ours, filled with all of the incredible women of my family (Bailey Huffmon, Paola Huffmon, & matriarch Dana Huffmon) would not be possible without our amazing team. Our store manager, Bret, and his team (Grace, Shannon, Carson, & Elsa) are living examples of what our company is all about – family, health and wellness, and joy. They have personally made a huge impact on the Durango community with their kindness and passion and we are so grateful for them. While all of the women in our family own and operate Old Barrel Tea Company, we have to thank the men in our lives who have supported and continue to support us along this awesome journey. They’re our biggest cheerleaders all the way! Additionally, all of the strong & inspiring women in our lives have helped us gain the courage to take a chance on something we’re all so passionate about and to grow this business as much as we have these last few years. The Durango community deserves a shoutout too – with a fire, no train, and a pandemic, we have still managed to grow thanks to THEM. They have supported us and joined our tea family the last few years and we are forever grateful for that!
Bailey Huffmon, Owner & Marketing Director