Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jenny Tse, owner and president of Sipping Streams Tea Company, located in Fairbanks, AK, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Sipping Streams Tea Company was created to fulfill our mission to help people transform their lives. Our products and services are more than just tea and honey, rather an invitation to get to know yourself, connect more deeply with who you are and to your mind, body and spirit. We see our tea as a medium for self-healing. Tea truly transcends all generations and cultures, and it has so powerfully transformed my own life. Now we provide:
- High-quality teas.
- Foraged teas.
- Tea accessories.
- Custom handcrafted gourmet honey.
- Our book “The Essence of Tea.”
- Classes on the culture of tea through our UniversiTea program.
The division in the world is apparent, yet tea has a wonderful way of bridging gaps between all sides and can play a role in healing that divide. Overall, our customers are people who are self-aware and want to go deeper into that self-awareness using holistic tools and products from Sipping Streams Tea Company. Our customers include Alaskan mushers, award-winning chefs, entrepreneurs, truck drivers, and even college students. Our most popular tea is the1000 mile tea - best for packing a high-energy punch perfect for high endurance activities and extreme athletic performance.
Tell us about yourself
I started my business because I saw how tea opened up conversations between my family and me. The stories that emerged from my family that was previously hidden from us came pouring out over our tea rituals. The stories were about difficult times in their lives and ones they had pushed out in order to assimilate to the cultures and society of the new country they decided to continue to build their lives in.
As the stories came out, I learned more about my cultural identity and my roots and for my family to heal and grow. Then, when I was working as a physical therapist, I started to witness my clients opening up about their own stories of tea! Even more astonishing was the healing that occurred on both sides and helped us understand each other.
What I truly love about tea it's facilitation for healing because tea is not confrontational; tea is easy. Tea is approachable; it's always there for you; it's always there like a good friend. When I see the changes in peoples' lives and how we affect them in a positive way, from employees to customers and community, through the medium of tea, I get to see this every day. So it's so easy for me to show up to do this hard work.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I have had several great accomplishments over the 15 years of running my business, from surviving two recessions, speaking on stages at large conferences, getting my book published, to establishing our Teahouse, to becoming an international award-winning master Tea Sommelier, but my BIGGEST accomplishment, topping ALL of the others is to be witness to the growth and healing in the lives of our customers and their communities. THIS is what drives me every day; it’s the people.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Work-life balance! My work is so integrated with my life that I can get distracted by all the cool stuff we do, and that is happening around us in our business! The interesting stories that then spur ideas and new products, you can sometimes get lost in the work and in service. The business doesn't survive if you get burned out. Recognizing that there is a fine balance between being passionate and RUNNING a business is crucial. Remember, your business also has to make MONEY, so the financial side of running a business is vital to the business being sustainable. A personal way I overcome burnout is I create thinking space. I (of course) make a cup of tea and then sit down with my planner to make plans, get ideas out of my head, take stock, and reflect rather than just letting all those thoughts run a muck of my brain.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Have a core mission - what is the reason, and be clear.
- Be disciplined - with a plan, write it all down. It doesn't have to be a structured plan.
- Create momentum, take micro-steps to get to full-on execution. Literally move your hands, move your feet, move into action.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
"You don't know what you don't know" is a phrase I remind myself of ALL THE TIME. I encourage you to get out there and talk to lots of people, get to know other entrepreneurs in your community, and listen to them. There are so many things that you are not aware of that you will learn when you listen. You can learn so much from others that are going through the entrepreneurial journey as well. In this listening and observing more, you never know what nuggets of gold will land in your lap because you embraced the idea of "You don't know what you don't know."
Where can people find you and your business?
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.
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