Thursday, March 3, 2016

Business of Tease Part Two

Hello my friends,

Yes, today is the day when we continue a conversation with the tease master herself, Sheena Brady. Buckle up, here come the juicy parts....

OD: I could not agree more and am a huge supporter of passionate people whose idea I see fit my beliefs. Your passion shines through in your products. I love the names that you give to your blends! Could you tell me how you come up with these names?
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SB: As a business owner you are in constant competition. It is extremely important to differentiate your business and your products. I focus on the fact that my company offers a modern take on tea and it is reflected in the type of blends and names we give them. Each tea has its own identity and personality. As a girly girl I always loved the idea of clever names given to nail polish lines; this is somewhat similar. Each tea has a purpose and appropriate name - if you look at our on-line store it offers a choice of teas for your every desire or mood. A great example is Chai Love You – a combination of rose petals, lavender and dark chocolate. What can be more romantic?

OD: LOVE IT! It is definitely different! My understanding is that you blend teas yourself. Where do you get the ingredients?

SB: At this time I deal with tea brokers. As much as I would love to deal directly with the gardens, it is tough for a small business like mine. I am very selective and deal only with brokers who offer ethical tea partnership certification and organic certification and accreditation of sustainable resources. It is important to me that the tea I offer has been grown and harvested without a negative impact on the environment or workers.

OD: And that is why you are one of my guests. I am a strong believer in sustainable living as well. It is not as complex or scary as some might think. So, you conquered NYC, what’s next for TeaseTea?

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SB: Great question and not necessarily easy to answer. Our NYC pop-up store just closed after 6 months but we are opening a second location in April or May. It was a risky move but paid off greatly for brand recognition. The main goal is to establish TeaseTea as a “go-to-on-line-tea-store” worldwide. It’s a big goal that requires few steps. At this time I would like to have more presence in Ottawa. It is rather funny that all of the products are blended and packaged in Ottawa but there is no representation. I am working on it and been very fortunate to have access to media outlets here in Ottawa such as local newspapers, TV and radio programs.

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OD: Understanding your passion for women’s issues, what does your company do to support causes and organizations?

SB: Celebrating women’s achievements are the pillar of my company. We try to help in any way we can. In September 2015 we started the ChariTEA project. The idea behind this initiative is to choose a women’s organization on a monthly basis and support them in any way we can. It can be swag for the gift bags, or gifts for an auction, or a donation of part of the sales proceeds. Giving back is very important to me!

OD: As a successful business woman could you provide us with some words of inspiration?

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SB: Absolutely! There are plenty of passionate women with great ideas but there is always that fear of failure. So here are two main aspects to consider: 
1. Go ahead and start your business. Yes it is hardest thing to do but when you take the first step, your passion will drive you! It will all come together when you have a desire and belief!
2. Don't worry about the problems until they happen! This might sound rather irresponsible but it is true. Most of the successful ideas were driven by passion and not fear of what if it does not work. My NYC store did not make business sense on paper but it was a huge success for the the brand! I say better ask for forgiveness than ask for permission. People get stuck on problems and it is the biggest roadblock for most.      
OD: Thank you so much for sharing your life experiences, all of the fascinating facts about tea and messages of inspiration. There is just one more question, your red lipstick? On few occasions that I’ve met you and few photos I've seen, it is permanently on display. Is it your trademark?
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SB: Hahaha! Thank you for noticing! I love lipstick and tend to have several tubes at a time in my purse. Although it might not be the trademark, it has a big presence in the brand. Each package that goes out has a pink lipstick imprint. It’s about details and leaving your mark. This is mine!

OD: Sheena, it was a pleasure to get to know you and your business better. I look forward to possible future collaborations.

Well, here you have it! You just have had a little bit of a tease of being driven by passion and the wonderful world of tea. It is amazing how life changes direction at times and takes you to places you might never thought you find yourself in!

Please visit TeaseTea and support this wonderful young lady and her business. There are more great things to come for Sheena and TeaseTea!

I would also love to hear from you with suggestions of women and women business owners that can be featured in March Current Inspiration. In the meantime....

Be Active! Be Involved! Be a Current Woman!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Business of Tease Part One

Hello my dear friends,

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Today is the second day of the March and I am starting a feature “Current Inspiration” in honor of International Women's Day on March 8th. This feature will introduce you to a few fascinating women that despite life diversities came out on top! They are a true inspiration and most certainly fit the mold of a Current Woman!

I am especially excited about this post and not just because this is the first one but also due to my love of tea. Yes, as some of you know my day will not go right if there is no tea in it!  So, it is my pleasure to introduce you to a wonderful young entrepreneur from Ottawa, Sheena Brady, the owner and founder of TeaseTea.

This talented young lady caught my attention during one of the episodes of Daytime on Rogers TV and it immediately teased my interest.  Our first encounter however did not take place until December of 2015, during a final episode of Daytime with Derick
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as a host. I was once again teased by the idea of getting better acquainted with this young lady and her business. And considering my tea passion this had to happen NOW! So we exchanged contact info and agreed to talk.

A few months went by, our busy schedules settled and we had a chance to chat. It was a very exciting experience and I discovered that we actually have quite a few things in common. So, without any further delay, here is the interview with Sheena Brady.

OD: Sheena, it is such a pleasure to finally connect with you! I hope to learn more about you and your wonderful business and share it with my readers and everyone I know. To set the tone of our conversation I would like you to tell me a little about yourself, something that has not been written already. Tell me a little about your family background and upbringing.
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SB: Olga, thank you for arranging this interview. I am very excited to talk about my passion, TeaseTea and how it all came together. But as per your request, let’s start from the beginning!

I was born in Ottawa, Ontario and raised in a single parent household. Due to the family dynamic, I have lived all over Ontario and by the time I was eighteen I had attended three different High Schools. Some might think that this type of environment would guarantee a troubled youth, but I will let people decide on this one… I think I turned out just fine!

OD: That’s very interesting Sheena. I see your upbringing as a character builder and now it explains a few things about you. I recently read an article in The Ottawa Citizen about the success stories of the graduates of Hospitality Management Hotel and Restaurant program at Algonquin College.  What brought you to this particular program?

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SB: Funny you ask. This was not the original plan. Graduating from high school at an early age of 17, I already knew that I had an entrepreneurial spirit. The only reasonable next step was to learn about running a business and head off to College. I decided to join the ranks of students at Algonquin College and Major in Business Administration. Unfortunately, after one year I felt out of place and somewhat lost; I decided to leave the program in search of what I felt was missing.
I wasn’t sure what to do next other than get a job while I was figuring things out. Restaurant work was something I’ve been exposed to since I was 15 and was the most logical choice. I did not regret it as I really enjoyed working with people and the industry itself. It paid off! After few months, seeing my passionate approach to the work, one very influential figure in my life offered a lifetime opportunity for a 19 year old. It was a six-month position as a bartender at a brand new resort in Turks and Caicos to teach locals the ways of North American
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hospitality. However, after just two months, the General Manager had left and I was offered that position! A little fearful as I lacked experience I did not lack enthusiasm and the best way to learn is by going in headfirst. So, I decided take on the challenge. This is when it was suggested to me that I should look into the Hospitality program at Algonquin College. I did just that and the program opened many doors for me and my future.

OD: Very interesting since I am a graduate of Algonquin College Business Administration program with major in Marketing. So I understand the impact college programs make on your future development.  Now, I believe we had enough teasers for the readers, let’s talk about the birth of your passion for tea.

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SB: With pleasure! After graduating, I was very fortunate to end up in New York City. What started as a graduation trip turned into a longer stay including a job offer in the industry that had been so good to me in the past. It was an incredible time in my life with exposure to BIG NYC culture of high-end dining and hospitality. That experience took me to the West coast of the USA to the sunny state of California in beautiful San Francisco. During this time, my love for wine helped me obtain the prestigious status of wine sommelier.  In turn, this accolade brought me back to Canada to join a very exciting and prestigious program at the Shangri-La hotel in Toronto. Although I would not be joining their team as a wine sommelier, I was offered an opportunity to explore the world of tea and introduce tea, its ceremonies and its service to staff and guests.

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My first reaction was a bit fearful, as I knew nothing about tea or how to gain a better understanding. However, after further investigation I discovered how much there is to learn about tea and how much similarity there is between the world of wine and the world of tea. Did you know that no matter what type of tea it is, black, green or white, it all comes from the same leaf and the difference is climate, soil and harvesting method? And so I discovered my new passion! Next came my 8-month journey with the Tea Association of Canada to become a certified Tea Sommelier. This is when I also discovered how underrated this beverage is in the North American hospitality industry since tea is considered to be a respected gesture of hospitality around the world.

OD: Amazing how one passion can lead to understanding another! So what about the birth of your business? How did you come up with idea of your own teas?

SB: While at Shangri-La I developed a real love for tea and as a creative person started experimenting with my own tea blends. This helped me gain a better understanding of tea culture and offer more education to staff and guests. It was a huge success experimenting on my family and friends in late 2013. Having this passion become so overwhelming affirmed my belief that I needed to part ways with the Shangri-La hotel and begin a new journey starting my own tea boutique appreciating everything the hotel had done for me.
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In early 2014 my tea business was growing so I decided to come back to my hometown of Ottawa and give this company very serious consideration as a full time business. It was not a small endeavor and some people were questioning my decision. But when you are so passionate about something and believe in the idea very strongly, it would be a shame not to give it all you have.....

To be continued.....

So? What do you think? Has this part got you even more curious? I hope so, since there is more to Sheena and TeaseTea and you can come back tomorrow to continue learning.

In the meantime, keep up the great job of being you and staying healthy and happy! And...

Be Active! Be Involved! Be a Current Woman!