As a kid growing up outside Birmingham, England, Karen Anne Murray got her start in the food business. Her dad had a habit of growing too many tomatoes in the garden, which he’d sell seasonally. Starting at about age 10, Murray would join him with cakes she’d baked, launching her first business called Karen’s Cakes.
Her interest in food started so early, she says, because of her parents’ traditional Jamaican cooking – more flavorful than traditional English meals she’d eat at her friends’ houses, like beans on toast.
Murray went on to train as a chef right out of high school, then moved to California, meeting her American husband in the process. She worked for years as a personal chef, did a stint as a personal trainer, and then opened a catering business called Eddison & Melrose, which now also operates a charming tea house in Monterey serving things like scones and cucumber sandwiches. (It’s open by appointment via 393-9479 or www.eddisonandmelrose.com.) She also makes Karen Anne’s Granola, which retails at stores like Whole Foods, Grove Market and New Leaf. The 48-year-old just launched her newest vbusiness enture, My Courageous You, consulting with aspiring entrepreneurs, something she says she was moved to do “after realizing I enjoyed the entrepreneurial way of life.”
Over a pot of Charlotte Rose tea – an English breakfast tea with mandarin and rose petals she named for the royal baby – Murray spoke about tea and business.
Weekly: Tell me about your new consulting business, My Courageous You.
Murray: It’s about taking a courageous step in your life. Instead of just saying, “I would one day like to have my own business, or one day have a more flexible schedule,” getting together and really customizing how to make that happen.
It’s funny how it’s connected it is to food. When I personal-cheffed, I cooked for people who are on dialysis, pregnant moms, people going through cancer treatment, busy families – it was very personalized. It’s just a different recipe for success I’m coming up with.
How does that translate to your own entrepreneurial success?
Things happen, and I follow the steps that are brought to me. I didn’t set out to someday own a tea room; it worked out that way. The timing was right to have a little living room space for people to come into.
I don’t want to steal your consulting secrets, but is there a guiding rule you can share?
To believe in what you’re doing. But also realizing it’s not us – we can be driven, and have our goals and everything else – but we need a balance of believing in ourselves, as well as believing in some higher power, so you’re not over-confident. An understanding needs to be there that yes, I need to get up and go, while it’s not me making all of this happen.
What is that higher power for you?
I am a believer in God. Not that I have to be at church every Sunday, but I carry that with me as a person. I got that from my parents. Just having a belief and taking the time to be grateful and give thanks. Everybody’s so busy, we don’t take the time to say thank you. Our world today is fast.
Tea seems to me like a good opportunity to slow down. Is there any particular significance to you of drinking tea?
Tea itself, it’s comfort. What can you do when someone’s so hurt and broken? Put the kettle on.
I wonder how much that can help with challenging political times. What about Brexit and Donald Trump?
Time is a healer, and time will tell. In the meantime, just stay positive. Nobody can lay things to rest; politics isn’t going anywhere, and life continues on. You still have to get up again, and life keeps moving forward.
I don’t feel that England’s going to crumble. Everything has a plus and a minus, a pro and a con. There’s always something that I feel can be a positive. I’m waiting to see what those are, with time and hope.
Your business card says you do personal consulting for “individYOUals.” What does individual mean to you?
Not all of us are meant to be a president, and not all of us are meant to be drinking tea.
When you say “you,” it’s not a selfish you. It’s understanding everyone else is individual, too. It helps you get along. It helps you understand why this person voted for that person, or why we don’t all like tea.