Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Victoria Lam, co-founder of Tea Street, located in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Tea Street is a locally owned and operated contemporary Taiwanese bubble/boba tea house, offering hot and cold drinks in a variety of tea and fruit flavors. Premium loose-leaf tea, directly sourced from Taiwan, is the core of our menu. We put a modern twist on classically inspired drinks, building upon the foundation of traditional East Asian tea culture. Our craft drinks do not contain synthetically flavored powders. Fresh fruit and scratch-made syrups are used instead.
As we oversee our own operations, customers can really taste the passion and thought we put into crafting each cup of tea. Our loyal following of customers love the creativity we have. Each season, we introduce drinks using only the freshest ingredients - citrus in the spring and summer, peach in the fall, and traditional hot Chinese beverages in the winter.
Our target audience are working professionals seeking alternative coffee drinks and adolescent families. Drinks on our menu are crafted from quality ingredients working professionals, parents, and children can enjoy. Premium tea can be made as simple or as fun as the consumer prefers.
Tell us about yourself
Patrick and I (Victoria) are the co-founders of Tea Street. We are Colorado natives and ethnically Cantonese Chinese with significant Vietnamese cultural influence. When we were children, we frequently visited Hong Kong with our family. Our Vietnamese-born parents deeply valued their Chinese heritage. They wanted to impart upon us the significance of retaining our culture. It was during these trips we were introduced to Hong Kong-style Milk Teas.
At a young age, we developed a shared love for this sweet, creamy delight. With each visit, our appreciation for the rich and bold brews of tea grew. My adoration for milk teas eventually drew me to study abroad in Shanghai. I would often travel to Hong Kong while abroad. Meanwhile, Patrick frequently visited Taiwan, where he was exposed to a different style of milk tea, the Taiwanese Bubble Tea. Our shared love for milk teas led them to begin Tea Street. Tea has significant cultural and familial importance to us. Being able to share the satisfaction and comfort a cup of tea brings motivates our continual passion for Tea Street.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Creating a self-sustaining business is difficult. Systems and policies, which can take several iterations to develop, must be in place. Hiring and training staff to consistently produce quality teas takes time. As of this interview, we have achieved this benchmark! Being able to step away and see our business continue without our constant oversight has been a huge accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Stepping away is one of the most difficult things for us to do as business owners. Our business is our baby, and we love the work we do, so we always want to be involved. However, it can be a detriment to us, as there are many other things on our plate. Everything requires our attention, so learning to prioritize and to delegate is something we've learned to do.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just keep moving - it's easy to become discouraged with the amount of work and challenges of opening a business, but with each step, you learn and grow, which is the most empowering part of the journey. It will all be worth it!
- Love what you do - if you don't love it, it will be hard to commit.
- Do what you do best and outsource the rest - seriously, don't spend time learning to be a graphic designer if you've never done it before. Use that time to grow the core of your business and hire someone who can do it better and faster than you can. Your time is valuable.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If it's your first time at Tea Street, let us know. We always have seasonal items we're featuring and LOVE talking about them.
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 email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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