I knew I always wanted to own my own business but I had no idea what that business was going to be until 5 months before we launched. Now that I look back, it all makes a bit of sense. Little seeds were planted as young as the age of 10 that impacted the fruition of WOASH, a holistic loose-leaf tea line designed to utilize the natural benefits of herbs to nourish and support the body from within.
Let’s start at the beginning, this will be quick I promise. I started drinking tea around the age of 10 my Oma (yup I’m a Dutchie!) would make me a cup of Red Rose orange pekoe or whatever it was, lightly steeped with ¾ milk and 2 hefty scoops of sugar. I was addicted; a warm milky sugary treat after dinner still makes my mouth water. As I grew older I tried to like coffee but couldn’t bare it neither could my stomach, I instantly had a knot in my stomach and felt un-easy so, I began to explore loose-leaf tea and expanded into different varieties. Earl Grey with milk and sugar was my go-to morning cup for years, then I dabbled into green tea when I ate sushi, herbal blends that tasted like candy and coconut Oolong that didn’t taste much different than the cup of tea my Oma made me.
These next few seeds were pivotal let alone at 23 I knew that or not between the beach parties and the all day happy hour. My husband (then bf) and I were travelling through South East Asia for 8 months, while we were in Indonesia exploring we thought it’d be a good idea to drink something other than Chang beer and Smirnoff ices so we took a touristy day trip to a local tea plantation. On that tour I was exposed to a whole new meaning of tea, the way our guide explained the delicate process, their ceremonial practices and how tea was a crucial part of their culture and medicine cabinet. This slightly blew my mind, I had no idea tea had so many health benefits! This caught my attention and I began to explore tea blends without all the added sugars and natural and artificial flavourings you find in most tea blends these days.
The coffee man who kicked me in the butt...
Lets quickly fast forward Business school, getting married, restaurant jobs and now we’re off on our mega-moon headed to Central and South America for 6-months. We were staying at a homestay in Honduras “trying” to learn Spanish, which basically ended up being a lot of confusing conversations over authentic Spanish cuisine pointing at random things around the room and butchering Spanish words. During our few weeks there I met a man (far left), similar to us “trying” to learn Spanish but was also down there for work scoping coffee plantations for his coffee shop back in the United States. This is when alarm bells started to ring so I took him for coffee (me tea obvs) and made him tell me everything there was about how he started his business and how on earth that supply chain worked.
WHY TEA THOUGH?
Add all that together and combine it with my frustration to find a cup of loose-leaf tea in Canada that utilized the natural benefits of tea plants and BAM! 5-months later WOASH launched on 11.28.18. I wanted to create loose-leaf tea blends that had purposeful health benefits – you knew what you were drinking and why you were drinking it. We accomplished this by focusing each loose-leaf tea blend on a specific need and strategically chose each ingredient for its natural health benefit and healing properties based on that need. Our goal is to encourage our community to check-in with themselves and discover their unique needs while responding with intentional nourishment for those specific needs. We also want those few selfish minutes a day to truly be yours by enjoying the practice of making the perfect cup. The endless nourishment that surrounds us is inspiring and offers a different connection from within to the earth and our bodies.
"... was the fuel to my fire"
Now for the dirt on what it entails to launch a product based business, this is for all of you who feel lost and have no idea what you want to do, have an idea but haven’t actually decided to go for it (lame get on with it your success day could be one day closer) or are about to throw in the towel and say fuck it cause you keep hitting road blocks. Between the tight deadline, knowing nothing about blending tea other than I enjoyed it and wanted something different than what was out there, no money saved, a full-time serving job (I wanted out of so badly) and the decision that I was going to do it and prove everyone wrong was the fuel to my fire.
All these ideas, visions and dreams were constantly rolling through my mind I could barely sort them let alone put them into action. I had the big picture, end goal and the success story all lined up but I had no idea how to get there or where to start. I found myself working constantly but not really getting anywhere, I knew I needed help and guidance so I reached out to an old mentor that helped me figure out a system to sort everything I needed to do to make it to launch day, by system I mean taping up scribbled on papers all over my walls. I prioritized based on how long each aspect was going to take and started on the lengthy ones.
Now the ball is rolling and I needed people with skills that I didn’t have to help me create my vision, this costs money and it’s not cheap. You're not only spending lots of monies (or going into debt like me) but you’re trusting someone else that has no idea about your business with a significant portion of it. I’m beyond grateful for the people I worked with, they delivered above and beyond but O god have I heard horror stories of wasted money and having to start all over. My advice do your research and ask for referrals from your community, make sure you vibe with what they are currently doing and it better align with what you are trying to create.
"2.5 months out from launch we had no blends, no product, no packaging, no website..."
This might make your palms sweat but 2.5 months out from launch day I had no blends, no product, no packaging and no website but holy did my branding look on point! Out sourcing was the key to getting things done I let the professionals do what they did best (tea blends) and I stuck to what I did best (packaging, managing the project and building a website). I hired two holistic nutritionists, Megan De Jong and Sisley Killam to consult on the blends and bring my vision to life. Packaging if you were following along in the beginning what a nightmare that was! I’ll save you the emotional roller coaster but our packaging never arrived on time so we scrambled and got temporary white bags, over-nighted labels that ended up being wrong and spent all night before launch day stickering and bagging tea. The amount of compliments I got on the packaging and branding made me laugh, who knew you guys were so easy to please, they hadn’t even seen our killer blue yet!
Holy fuck! We finally made it and not without a bang, the best thing I heard in the first month of launching was, “one day you guys weren’t here and the next WOASH tea was everywhere!”