We were happy to introduce Shanae, founders of Ivy's Tea Co. through our my B.O.B. campaign on Instagram! This campaign brings awareness to Black businesses from the owner's perspective. At blackbox we believe it's important to know the vision and purpose behind a business. Through our blog, we can dig deeper into their stories and provide a fuller perspective with you!
Shanae initially envisioned a community tea house to launch her business, Ivy's Tea Co. However, due to finances and deciding she needed to take immediate action, she launched online in November 2016. Her holistic knowledge and work as a herbalist propelled her vision to build up the Black community.
When did you fall in love with tea? What do you love about it?
I fell in love with tea at an early age. For much of my childhood, my mother, who is British, lived with my grandmother, who is Jamaican. As you can imagine, tea was a big part of our interactions with one another. Over tea, I learned more about my family (especially the women of my family), myself, society, history, relationships - you name it - I learned about it over tea. Tea is a safe haven for me; if I'm sad, I drink tea. If I'm sick, I drink tea. If I'm celebrating, I drink tea. I love the ritual of making tea, the kettle (I love kettles), mugs/tea cups (I feel about mugs the way some women feel about shoes), adding sugar, milk, honey - tea is peace for me.
You just recently launched your business, congrats! Did you go all in and quit your job to do so? Or are you transitioning out of the workplace?
Thank you! This has been the best 9 months or so of my life. I'm having so much fun being an entrepreneur, it has its trials, but to me, it's worth it. I still work a 9 to 5:30pm job. But there is a very still voice telling me to quit. It is likely that I will be 100% working for myself in the next 2 or 3 months.
What is your favorite tea that you offer and why?
I love all of the teas that Ivy's Tea Co. offers, but the one that I reach to most often is Rise & Grind because it is such a unique tea. There's nothing like it on the market. It's also a very popular tea - one of our bestsellers.
We also agree with you about black businesses making all kinds of products that are for everyone, not just black people. That's what we want to showcase with blackbox. How have you kept true to your marketing showcasing Black people and images and still letting others know that Ivy's Tea is for everyone?
Our marketing is about changing the way people see tea drinkers, but our tea is about holistic health - making herbal medicine a routine and the default, not an option. This holistic health industry does not have a space for Black people, but with Ivy's Tea Co., I get to say, "Here we are. This is how we do things. We know it's dope. You are welcome to to be a part of what we're doing. If don't like it or don't want it, bye wig"! Lol. We only want progressive, respectful, forward-thinking people in our tribe. If you are those things, you won't find our marketing offensive. We intend to be more inclusive in our advertising, but right now, this has to be about us. And our non-Black supporters respect and value this. Those are the supporters that we want and need, if we expect to make an impact in the holistic health industry.
What would you like to share with other healthy food and beverage entrepreneurs getting started with a black audience who may not always eat or drink the healthiest?
I am an herbalist and a healer. I bring that to my work in the healthy beverage industry. We have hip-hop inspired marketing because hip-hop is who I am; I love the music and the culture. I work with Black models/artists/entrepreneurs because I am Black. My circle consists of mostly women because I am a woman. It's all about being true to yourself and starting where you are with what you have. This community is about education, healing, and support. Think: how can I connect with the people I want to serve in a way that is innovative and true to myself? When you've got that, study the craft, present it in a way that will get the attention of the people you want to support, and do the work.
What a pleasure learning more about Shanae and her hustle as we works a day job and her urban tea company, Ivy's Tea Co. Shop her tea collection here. We wish her continued success in bringing more holistic living options to the Black community!