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THE REPUBLIC OF TEA by Mel Ziegler

THE REPUBLIC OF TEA

Letters to a Young Zentrepreneur

By Mel Ziegler (Author) , Bill Rosenzweig (Author) , Patricia Ziegler (Author)

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1992
ISBN: 0-385-42056-0
Publisher: Doubleday

 A tedious the-journey-is-the-reward exercise in launching a business. A couple of years ago, while returning to his California home from a conference on business and social responsibility, Mel Ziegler (cofounder, with his wife Patricia, of the Banana Republic apparel chain) met fellow conferee Rosenzweig, a thirtysomething consultant based in Arizona. During their cross-country flight, Ziegler (who was in semiretirement at fortysomething after having cashed out of the Banana Republic) confided a growing fascination with tea and its retail potential. Rosenzweig took to the idea immediately and assumed responsibility for getting a company to be called ``The Republic of Tea'' into operation. The bulk of the text here consists of letters faxed between Rosenzweig (coyly dubbed ``Minister of Progress'') and the Zieglers (he: ``Minister of Leaves''; she: ``Minister of Enchantment''). While readers not up on their Zen may have difficulty making much sense of what the threesome had to say to one another, the message seems to be that ``zentrepreneurial'' enterprise has a life of its own, one that places little premium on traditional management concerns. The text is steeped in deadly earnest discussions of balance, empowerment, energy, fulfillment, nurture, warmth, and other elevated precepts and percepts that evidently supplant the workaday priorities of more mundane start-ups--such as capital, cash flow, credit, inventory control, etc. There's also a surfeit of portentous pronouncements--e.g., ``Drink tea and you don't need answers. But you just might get a clue to what the questions are.'' Be that as it may, the nascent Republic of Tea has opened its doors to vend ``Metabolic Frolic,'' ``Surrender to Sleep,'' ``Wake Up Dancing,'' and other life-styled teas to the yuppie carriage trade. The new republic's principals had best hope that their business has firmer foundations and better organization than their book--which, most assuredly, won't be everyone's cup of tea. (Seventy-five line drawings.)