Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lauren Danson, CEO of Mizuba Tea Co., in West Coast, USA.
Tell us all about your business...
Mizuba Tea Co. works with small family matcha producers in Uji, Japan, to bring you traditional matcha green tea of integrity. As a woman-owned, direct-trade company and a recognized “Official Uji Cha Tea Dealer,” Mizuba Tea Co. personally knows, visits, and counts as friends the matcha producers who strive to uphold Japanese tea heritage. Mizuba’s teas are certified organic, non-GMO, certified radiation-free, certified heavy-metal-free, and gluten-free.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?
I have been personally studying specialty tea for at least 17 years of my life. I grew up in a foodie family and was always encouraged to know the stories behind what made food so special. I became enamored with tea at 11 years old and found I experienced so much of the world and relationships through tea! I traveled to Japan to visit a friend in 2013 and became connected with the heritage of Japanese tea culture. I met the folks who strive to keep the art of Japanese tea alive. 6 months later, I agreed to help some of the matcha producers I met to share their tea in America. Together, we have Mizuba Tea Co. and have enjoyed sharing their beautiful teas and helping to preserve Uji Matcha history ever since!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Enjoying every moment! Even the challenges that I face mean that I am blessed to be working with what I love. But my proudest moments are definitely when the farm partners and matcha producers I work with in Japan tell me how excited they are that Mizuba's customers are so enthusiastic about traditional Uji matcha. We've been able to come alongside our producers and support specific projects of theirs. For example, we are now in a place where we can purchase micro-lots from different farms to help them reach their growth goals of transitioning a conventional tea field into an organic one or help them highlight unusual and unique teas that are in danger of not being produced anymore. The Tea Industry in Japan is declining, and tea farmers are worried that the next generation will not want to continue managing and maintaining farms. So we are doing what we can to help generate excitement about tea for future generations and ensure their art of Japanese tea culture is not lost.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a solopreneur?
Feeling focused and trying to manage all the different hats I have to wear as an entrepreneur. I want to do everything well, but you have to know when to delegate!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Use the phone! I think people these days underestimate a phone call. Being a "phone person" means you build relationships, get responses faster, and make connections on a different level, whereas e-mail responses are easily lost.
- Respect your boundaries. Working until midnight most nights is not a way to live. Although Mizuba is my vocation, I do not want to live for my business.
- Know what a good investment is. There will be so many companies and third parties trying to sell you services, but you have to be very discerning in what assets will grow your business. You do have to spend money to make money, though! But don't feel rushed into having to "have it all," either. Growing slow was the best thing we did for our company.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Overall, I honestly never wanted to own a business or be an entrepreneur. Learning how to run a business is secondary to the opportunity to share our farm partner's teas. I'm thankful to continue learning about business resources to do so, but above it all, I'm just so happy to share tea with everyone! It's the passion for tea that keeps me going. Can't wait to share a #matchamoment with you!
Where can people find you?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.