Sept. 21, 2019
By Layne Stracener of the Tribune
After gaining a large following on Instagram from selling vintage goods and accessories, Raytown-resident Rena Krouse began to run out of items. She decided she wanted a more creative outlet, so she taught herself how to screen print and soon began creating tea towels with the same vintage feel.
Before long, Green Bee Tea Towels was born.
Four years later, Krouse’s business is thriving. Krouse and her team of five employees handprint more than 100 designs from their production studio in Raytown.
This year, Green Bee Tea Towels has expanded to be included in over 500 retail stores across all 50 states, and the brand now has sales representatives across the country. The tea towels will also be available on the popular e-commerce website Zulily by the end of this year.
Krouse said having her business expand so much in such a short period of time has been overwhelming but exciting.
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur, so it just drives me to have a growing business and to have a never-ending to-do list,” Krouse said. “I do definitely get overwhelmed at times, but when I step back, it’s like, I’ve accomplished a lot, so all this is going to work out, too.”
The brand also signed its first showroom with Ryan Associates this year. Based in the Dallas Market Center in Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Trade Mart showroom is a permanent, family-owned showroom with a select list of fewer than 40 vendors. Green Bee Tea Towels has been a part of the showroom since June.
Krouse said she wanted the showroom to be in Dallas because her brand was previously in wholesale shows in Dallas twice a year, so she is comfortable with the market.
Green Bee Tea Towels will be showcased during the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market and recurring mini-markets. All show dates can be found at ryanshowroom.com/shows/shows.htm.
To help expand her business, Krouse participated in a program through KC Source Link, an organization that connects small businesses to various resources. The program, called ScaleUP!, offers four months of weekly courses to local entrepreneurs to connect them to a wide network of peers, resources and mentors.
Krouse said the program changed her mindset to working on her business as opposed to working in it, which was eye-opening for her. She recommends all small-business owners contact KC Source Link.
“I can’t say enough good things about it,” Krouse said. “There are so many free resources that I didn’t realize they had. … They’re great at saying ‘Oh, you have a need – We know these people and we’ll get you in touch. It’s amazing to network with them.”
Some other advice Krouse has for small business-owners is to work an hour more a day than you think you have to and to delegate the tasks you don’t know how to do.
“Everything that you delegate is going to cost money, but it will free up your time – and your time is invaluable,” Krouse said.
Krouse said that eventually, she wants her business to be acquired or sold outright so she can move on to something else, but she is unsure what. She said she is interested in an investing/coaching role where she can help companies take their products to the next level.
You can find Green Bee Tea Towels in Hallmark, Midcoast Modern, and online at greenbeeteatowels.com.