Sunday Offering: Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday… I was ecstatic when this campaign launched in 2010. I had literally just started my first “real” business and was stoked to be able to celebrate along side some entrepreneurs I had looked up to for years.

I had been working a 9-5 and running a small business for a while when I first met Evan. He too had been running his own business for years. So when people ask “What do you guys NOT do?” it really is a fun question to answer.

Not many know exactly everything we do so I thought I’d take the time this weekend, Small Business Saturday & Sunday Offering, to give you a bit of our history and current businesses.

Tate Farms was established in 1962 by Evan’s grandfather. He grew up working the farm. Graduated from high school in 1994, went off to college for a couple of years and then came back to work the farm. At this point, he started taking on more and more of the farm responsibilities and expanding the farm at the same time… baling hay, working cattle, day to day farm needs. And then bringing on a fence building business, a mowing business, hay baling business, etc

Evan Tate business #1- Tate Farms

Not long after that, he started training horses for the public.

Evan Tate business #2- horse training/riding lessons.

From there, his horse training clients started asking if they could just keep their horse at the farm. So, around 1998, he started boarding horses at the farm.

Evan Tate business #3- horse boarding.

Around this same time, I was living a pretty opposite life about 20 miles away in Mesquite… not even knowing Evan Tate. I had Micah young so the smartest thing to do was get my degree and start working a good paying 9-5… and that’s what I did. Got a bachelors degree in Dental Hygiene and cleaned teeth all day, every day. It was, of course, not what I WANTED to do forever but it was what I NEEDED to do at the time. I was always doing something extra… baking for money, cutting peoples hair, throwing parties… always some sort of little side hustle.

In 2010, my dad passed away suddenly… at the age of 56. It was then that I realized I HAD to do more. That I NEEDED to do more. For my own self. Something to stimulate my creative juices, something that allowed me to set and achieve goals, something that allowed me to learn and grow. I still HAD to work my 9-5 because I NEEDED the money. Ha! And guess what y’all???

Having your own business does not make you rich! Sorry for that spoiler alert! But it doesn’t. So I started my first small business and kept my full time job.

SugarDerby.com launched in 2010. A baking blog and vintage resale site.

Melissa Tate business #1- Sugar Derby blog.

I had some ads on the site that I made money from and was published in a few magazines and on several other larger blogs. From this, I decided to broaden the business and go mobile. In 2011, I purchased my first vintage travel trailer and repurposed it into a vintage resale shop.

Melissa Tate business #2- Sugar Derby Mobile.

I loved Sugar Derby Mobile. So much fun and so many good memories… but a little ahead of it’s time! People didn’t quite grasp the mobile shop idea at that time. I had set a goal to do SDM for one year. So that’s what I did and after one year I thought about some other things I loved… photo booths! I did some research on mobile photo booths. Figured out there were none in travel trailers anywhere near me and none at all doing what I wanted to do. So Photo Wagon was born.

Melissa Tate business #3- Photo Wagon

During the time of Photo Wagon, I stopped Sugar Derby completely. The mobile shopped had turned into the photo booth and eventually, I just stopped the blog. You can read more about that HERE.

I started food writing for Central Track. And then D Magazine. Making Freelance Food Writer an actual business!

Melissa Tate business #4- Freelance Food Writer/Photographer

Alright… this is about the time where Evan and I meet. So, to recap… when we met… he had Tate Farms (which included mowing, cows, hay, fence building, etc), horse training and horse boarding. I had Photo Wagon, was writing for D Magazine and had my full time job.

The best thing for us to do was CLEARLY start a business together. So that’s what we did!

After dating for a year, we started Summerfield at Tate Farms. Evan had talked about this dream since the day we met but had never had a partner in the dream. So after a few long (actually short) talks… we started the event venue business together in October 2015.

Evan & Melissa business #1 together- Summerfield at Tate Farms

With Evan’s help, Photo Wagon multiplied. Literally, a new trailer about every 6 months for the first 2 years we were together. I had that dream on my own… but with Evan, it grew in a way I could not have done on my own.

And the same went for Summerfield. He had the dream, but without me… it wouldn’t have been what it was/is. In that first year, we hosted over 60 events, were published in 4 magazines and voted Top 100 Best New Venues in Nation.

The mobile business was great so we started thinking of other mobile businesses we could add to the Photo Wagon fleet and as offerings for Summerfield… and that’s when Off The Wagon was born.

Evan & Melissa Business #2 together- Off The Wagon Mobile Bar

We rarely rent OTW to the public because we are constantly using it for ourselves. It’s one of those ideas that we had and thought would be a great business… which it would… but then we were like… let’s just keep this to ourselves. Ha! We do rent it though! We promise!

Speaking of using it for ourselves… you’ve probably seen more of it in the past few months as we started our third business together… Tate Farms Mini Merc.

Evan & Melissa Business #3 together- Tate Farms Mini Mercantile

Evan’s family has been in the cattle business for decades but they have never sold cuts of beef to the public. They had processed beef in the past for friends, family and use at Evan’s brother, Nathan’s, restaurants… Tate Farms burger at Boulevardier was even voted Best Burger in Dallas by several media sites. With this popularity and demand at Nathan’s restaurants, they were unable to keep up with the need. For years, they sold cattle live at the open market… until this year! And that is when the two of us decided to try our hand in public beef sales. Oh and… they’ve had bee hives for years too and never sold to the public. So we threw that in as well.

2019 was our first year of selling TFTx single cuts off beef and TFTx honey to the public. We hosted events at the farm, delivered to homes and set up at events around town, including Asapasians and Heath Farmers Market.

In the midst of all of this… I started my blog back up! Which is where you are now. I started writing for The Blue Ribbon News 2 years ago and Living Magazine earlier this year. Expanding my food writing again to hopefully, one day, include a published cookbook. Fingers crossed!

Evan began cooking more as well. He’s gotten in with some great guys down in Austin that are doing some AMAZING things with live fire. Cooking, building smokers… just really pushing the limits and utilizing the original way that food was meant to be cooked.

Evan helped book all the music for all of the side stages at the State Fair of Texas this year and was asked to be Chairman of the Rodeo Committee for the State Fair of Texas as well.

We. Stay. Busy.

But we are constantly learning and evolving and figuring our what does work and what doesn’t work and what needs to be let go and what needs to be gripped a little tighter.

The things I would love for you to take away from this are…

Owning your own business is constant. Each day is different. Each day is a challenge and a reward. You never really reach the top… or maybe we just haven’t yet! But I feel like brains like ours… and yours… are always looking for something more. So when you succeed at one thing it just fuels you to start another. So you never really stop.

Also… I need Evan to make my ideas better… and he needs me to make his ideas better. We need each other in this. BUT at the same exact time… we have our own individual dreams. You have to find the balance on what you strongly believe to be YOUR story and what you can share with a partner. I don’t even know how to ride a horse… Evan’s horse training business is his story. My cookbook is my story. We hold those things close to us and protect them from getting pushed to the side by anything else.

Make the main thing, the main thing. Trim the fat. Whatever you want to call it. This is the season we are in right now. I’ve had on my to-do list for weeks that we need to have this talk. We are too busy at times… like an unhealthy, stressful, too busy… so we have to tap the breaks. Sit down. Have a talk. And decide what we hold onto and what we let go. Those are hard conversations. and maybe we don’t let a business go… but we let social media go or a hobby go. But there are times when we have to let something go or it’s all going to fall.

And don’t be afraid to work a “real” job while starting/running your own business. You have to make money to fund that dream! It may not be what your vision what… but it’s realistic. And no one will think less of you for it. It’s not you giving in to mainstream… it’s you doing what you need to do!

I hope this makes sense friends. And I hope it helps anyone out there that owns their own business or has that dream tucked away in their heart. It is worth it. Following your dream and your passion is worth it… but it is not for the weak!

Happy Sunday, Melissa

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