Monday, December 20, 2010

Tea Business Spotlight 3 - Indie Tea

Welcome to the third of our Tea Business Spotlights, in which we allow tea people to share insights on running their business. If you're a tea business owner and you'd like to take part in an upcoming spotlight, please contact us.

Indie Tea
Las Vegas, Nevada

How long have you been in business?
Indie Tea has been in business since May, 2009, but in the works since 2007.

What is the size/scope of your business?
Currently, Indie Tea is a small, boutique tea company that is family owned and operated by myself, my husband, Mike Johnson and our daughter, Rachael Wilson. Of course we have aspirations for growth; but always want to maintain that family atmosphere no matter the size. We our focusing on selling wholesale to retail partners, but do maintain an online retail outlet. In June of 2011, Indie Tea will be an exhibitor at the World Tea Expo (booth #731), and through our presence there hope to expand our brand to other parts of the country and beyond.

Why tea?
Why, we love tea, of course, but beyond that, as a family of artists, we look at the creation of each new blend as an artistic project that begins with the hunting and gathering of the elements that will eventually create the tea, to the blending and tasting again and again until it's just right. While taste is of ultimate importance, we also love to play with the tea as if it were paint on a canvas. The ingredients come together and truly create a work of art.

How did you get the ball rolling on your venture?
After a visit to several tea shops and stores, we decided to attend The World Tea Expo to learn more about the business and make contacts with importers and suppliers. Frankly, we dove right in; ordering ingredients and creating our blends, while simultaneously developing our logo, and the look of our brand.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your business?
Indie Tea uses only 100% USDA certified organic ingredients to create all of our blends as well as Fair Trade ingredients wherever possible, so the beginnings of our teas are as good as they can possibly be for the health of our customers as well as the health of our environment. Our blends are all our own, and though we have some traditional offerings, they usually have something a little different than the average brew. An example of this unique twist is our Wise Man's Caravan Masala Chai with a hint of Frankincense and Myrhh (one of our best sellers). As artists we have also placed emphasis on our packaging and artwork so that, in a fun way, they stand out from the crowd, and add some whimsy and fun into the world of tea.

What were/are the biggest challenges of getting into/being in the tea business?
I think the biggest challenge is competing against the tea giants that are already so well-known and established, while keeping our pricing competitive when we're obviously going to pay much more for our ingredients and packaging than they do because of the lower purchasing volume. In addition, trying to market your product in an effective way on a limited budget is also a challenge. I think that's where our creativity comes into play; coming up with ways to share our product to a new audience. As an example, we had a fun night with Gaia Flowers & Gifts during Las Vegas' art walk (First Friday) where we shared tea cocktails with patrons as the roamed from shop to shop. It was a lot of fun, and very tasty.

What would you do differently, if anything?
I would love to offer our teas in tea sachet form in addition to loose-leaf tea. We are hoping to make sachets available as soon as the volume permits us to purchase the packaging equipment.

How's business?
Business is good and growing. We have some wonderful Las Vegas retailers that we work with (The Las Vegas Hilton, Pure Health Foods, Gaia Flowers & Gifts, Herbally Grounded,) and a great online retailer, who have been very supportive to our business. Through their support, and our marketing efforts, we have gained a loyal following.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be in the tea business?
Learn as much about tea as you can, but just as importantly, learn about running a business. Many times the tea could be great, but it takes a lot of hard work, and long hours to make a love for tea into a successful business.

Gifts for lovers of tea with free wrapping of all items.

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