Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chad Morris, Co-Owner of Chad's Chai Co., located in Winston-Salem, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Chad's Chai Teahouse is a beautiful, warm, and comfortable space where people can enjoy amazing tea and treats. Many come to spend time with friends, others for a place to work. We offer chai and matcha lattes, craft iced teas on tap, pots of hot tea, refreshing tea "mocktails," and soon will be doing tea-infused wine. Along with these extraordinary drinks, we also offer delicious treats, both sweet and savory, all made in-house by our bakers.
Tell us about yourself
I'm an artist and a foodie who loves camaraderie with friends. When I first encountered India-style chai, it was at a neighbor's house. They would have all their friends over for a monthly chai party. The aroma of spices filled the air as we enjoyed hanging out, playing games and music. I loved the combination of friends, fun, and this delicious drink. I soon went to the Indian store to buy tea and spices and try my own hand at making chai for guests at my house. It became a regular tradition with friends and neighbors. Over time, along with these friends, I started creating other tea blends and selling them to local coffee shops and restaurants. I've been doing this now for the past 16 years, but all the while have dreamed of having our own place where people could come spend time together and enjoy our teas.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Opening the teahouse was quite a feat. It would never have happened without others, especially Thomas, my business partner, who is gifted in many ways that I am definitely not! I'm the artsy guy, and I don't handle details or businessy stuff well. So, when Thomas joined the team a few years back, we began to flesh out a vision for this teahouse. We looked and looked for a good location. We figured out what we would (and wouldn't) serve. We talked about the "vibe" and how it would feel as people came in. It needed to be warm, inviting, and peaceful—yet where you could laugh out loud without feeling uncomfortable. A couple of years ago, we finally found a location that fit our vision: in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem. We began taking steps in that direction. It was a crazy amount of work, but we have finally opened. It is such a beautiful space, truly made complete by the people who come and enjoy it.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I would say the hardest thing is having to wear so many different hats. In the beginning, you have to do and figure everything out. It gets easier over time as you grow and can bring others along who can share responsibilities, but those first years can be a beast.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
You need to do something you can believe in and that lines up with who you are. And once you find what you want to do, don't try to do it all on your own. Surround yourself with others who can provide feedback, ideas, and help along the way, and keep you going when you want to quit, because you will. At the very least, I wanted to quit many times. As mundane as it sounds, simply "not quitting" is probably the biggest factor in whether a small business makes it or not.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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