Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andrew Flocks, Co-Owner of Simple Loose Leaf Tea Co, located in Springdale, AR, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Simple Loose Leaf Tea Co, as the name aptly shows, is a tea company that sources premium loose-leaf teas from around the world. Featuring them in a catalog of over 150 different teas where tea lovers can discover anything their hearts desire.

But the real gem of Simple Loose Leaf is our Personalized Tea of the Month Club. We take the thoughts and input of our audience to build each subscriber a personalized experience every month. We collect over 148 different points of information about a tea lover and use that information to build a scorecard for each tea in our catalog. We use that scorecard to build the best experience each time we send a customer a box of tea.

Our customers are lovers of quality tea that enjoy experiencing the magic of something new. They love to experience and explore something new, and then when they find something they love, they often share it with all their friends and family.

Tell us about yourself

Simple Loose Leaf was started by two brothers and our sister. We started Simple Loose Leaf in March of 2013, almost 10 years ago, in our little two-bedroom townhouse. We started with tea because of our trip my sister and I took one spring break to Hong Kong with our aunt and another cousin. We had a chance to see Hong Kong, the culture, and the tea that shaped so much of the region. Coming home from that trip, we realized that finding good loose-leaf tea was a challenge in our Small Town America.

Years later, we decided that we'd take up the family business, entrepreneurship, and tea was where we were going to start. We found suppliers, figured out packaging and started on a journey of learning everything we could about loose-leaf teas from around the world. Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Africa, and so many other amazing places.

What keeps us going each day is the support of the amazing group of customers we've bonded with, some of which have been with us since our starting days. Providing feedback, support, and just an enormous amount of loving support as we figure out how to be global tea merchants.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

We have a few accomplishments that are pretty relevant to us. We've been able to partner with a local developmental work center that provides employment to members of our community with developmental disabilities. We've developed entirely on our own a rudimentary algorithm that matches someone's taste preferences across our entire collection of teas.

But the accomplishment that I think we're most proud of is that we are able to work together. As a family, we hear all the time, "I could NEVER work with my brother/sister." We work together and are able to sit down to dinner with each other without issue. I think we'd all agree that we've grown closer since having all three of us working together under one roof.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The huge swings in the marketplace from COVID have been a challenge. We saw record growth that just blew our socks off. And the correction that came after that growth was equally shocking. We had to both open a warehouse and learn how to run a super lean company all in the same year.

It was trying, but ultimately hardships are what test entrepreneurs and allow us to grow. Easy times don't make great entrepreneurs; not saying we're great at this, but we're working every day to get better at what we do.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Do the basics well. Communicate well, sell honestly, and don't stop doing what works.
  2. Get effective, then get efficient. Doing something well isn't a good reason to do it. Doing something that needs to be done is more important than doing a worthless thing well. Prove something is worth doing, then do it well.
  3. Know your numbers. This doesn't have to be fancy, but a spreadsheet that shows the costs associated with your product is very important to make sure that you're making money selling your service or product. Without this knowledge, you have to wait until the end of a year to know if you're making money or, even worse, you'll find out when you're bank account hits $0.00.

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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