Monday, May 02, 2011

Tea Business Spotlight 9 - Culinary Teas

Culinary Teas
Milford, Indiana

Welcome to the ninth 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.

How long have you been in business?
We have been in business for ten years. We started the company in April of 2001.

What is the size/scope of your business?
We sell only to the United States and Canada. We did just over $200k in sales last year so we are still a small company.

Why tea?
Tea has always been a love of mine and when my favorite vendor went out of business I decided I could take my job skills and use them for myself instead of others and make sure I would never run out of my favorite tea again.

How did you get the ball rolling on your venture?
I was working as a marketing and Internet consultant building websites for companies. I worked with my husband who is a programmer and wrote a lot of custom code for my websites. We sat down and looked at other tea ventures on the web and decided we could do them one better without spending a penny on developing a site. So we created a site and converted our garage into a tea packaging and shipping facility. I needed a person to help me with the day to day so my Aunt by marriage came on board as my partner and here we are 10 years later.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your business?
I believe knowledge is our biggest strength. I have devoted the last 10 years to gaining knowledge about teas. It helps us stay on top of up coming trends. I also have a culinary background so that combined with my tea knowledge makes my tea tasting decisions of prospective teas very concise. I have many companies that come to me for my opinions on teas because of my track record of picking top selling teas.

What were/are the biggest challenges of getting into/being in the tea business?
The biggest challenge that most tea companies have is obtaining just enough tea so that it sells without becoming stale but also getting enough so that you don't constantly run out. We have created a system that works well for us using our past sales records and current sales trends.

What would you do differently, if anything?
We opened a tea room 5 years ago and even though we did our research and it should have been an easy success we found that people in Indiana just are not interested in tea rooms. I would have forgone that entire experience.

How's business?
So far in 2011 we have seen about a 12% increase in sales over 2010. Last year we had a decrease in sales but we made internal adjustments and we still had a very profitable year.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be in the tea business?
Do your research, some tea ventures are much more feasible than others and there are lots of red tape to wade through. In some parts of the country it is almost impossible to overcome local regulations when it comes to food related businesses. Please know about the hurdles you will have to jump before you spend any money.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is nice to see. Highlighting people doing business in something they love. This encourages me as I begin my journey into the tea and tea sets business. I am so excited to be in business for myself doing something I love.