Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I decided to sell tea as a way to stay in touch with my home back in Darjeeling, India where premium tea grows. Also with the growth of interest in tea consumption in the west, for its health-giving properties and aesthetics, it made perfect sense to choose tea. Currently, we import teas directly from certified-organic growers in India, Nepal and Taiwan. These growers are known to us and we have personally visited most of the gardens that we source from. For our tisanes are made from ingredients that we source from within the US, most of whom are certified organic and fairtrade.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales were direct sales at the local farmers' market. For online sales our approach was to participate in internet forums for tea drinkers and send our products to tea reviewers. This strategy has paid off with word eventually spreading about the quality of our tea through online forums and social media. It's almost 50/50 between our local direct sales and online sales which almost entirely non-local, even international sometimes.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Currently we use Shippo, Yotpo, Quickbooks and Shopify POS. Our favorite is Shippo. They have made our day-to-day operation so much smoother. We have tried other apps in the past, but it did not seem to have made any substantial difference. We fulfill them ourselves. We use the app Shippo. We use USPS mostly and try to ship within 24 hours of receiving an order. We believe by shipping fast, you communicate to the customer that you value their order!
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Get ready for the grind. The product or the service that you offer must mean something more to you than just bringing in money. That way the grind does not feel so much like a grind anymore!