Neau Stories: A Lifelong Love For Tea & Travel

What inspired you to start The Tea Nomad?

A lifelong love for travel and drinking tea. I grew up drinking tea all day long, every day, and with parents who loved travel and made it just a fixture of my childhood, so both tea and travel were things that have always been in my blood.

A few years ago, whilst living overseas. (of course), indulging in a wander luster’s life of travelling as much as possible, and working a corporate job, I was looking for a creative outlet and the idea of combining passions of mine, being tea and travel, came through conversations with some of my best friends- with whom I usually talked, planned and dreamt travel with! What was first an idea for a blog (the travelling tea ladies!), slowly became more exciting and tangible as an idea to make teas that were inspired by travels. I appreciate that travelling is a luxury and aside from a daily ritual or beverage choice, I think that tea can also be a luxurious experience that offers something indulgent for the senses... so slowly, the idea of creating tea blends that were experiences,  and could convey some of my favourite travel experiences or dreams, came to be. A way to share a love for travel, and how else, but over cups of tea!

 

How did you go about launching your business?

Learning about and trying my hand at blending tea. Ideas for places to inspire teas came easy and I quickly even had some initial blend ideas (which formed the initial three blends in our range) but I had to see if I had any skills to create teas that didn’t just sound good, but also looked, smelt and most importantly, tasted good too!

 

What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have faced since starting, and what have you learned from it?

So many! There is no rulebook for how to start a small business and entrepreneurship is certainly not something I learnt, despite studying business as part of my degree. In fact I even majored in marketing, but it was in the era before digital marketing so… largely what I knew obsolete!

That said, one of the biggest challenges for me was initially, getting our packaging right. I had quite a clear idea of the look and feel we were going for, as I wanted something visually beautiful and distinctive, that would communicate the luxuriousness of the tea experiences we wanted to offer, but also maintain the integrity of high quality tea- and I wanted it to be unique. So getting to the copper canisters we have now, which are our signature product, was quite hard.  These did not exist and communicating this, getting the design right and then getting it produced as a start up business dealing with MOQs- that was hard.   

It is now though, what we are known for and does, easily distinguish us from other brands so I am now quite proud of our strong branding- it has taught me to listen to my gut about this part of the business, and also to stay on course and have patience when trying to get to the outcome we are looking for- not to settle for close enough.

 

Have you had to adapt your business during COVID-19? If so, how?

Absolutely! From markets closing to logistic delays and supply shortages.. 2020 was a year of being adaptable and continual adjustment. We have had to focus a lot on online- both in trying out virtual (online) markets for the first time, to building our social media presence through Instagram stories, going live and putting my face on camera. We’ve also had to work through supply shortages- which has meant at times, looking for alternatives for some of our ingredients, and being mindful of what blends we work on – given likely shortages from tea farms abroad. 

 
What makes The Tea Nomad unique?

Aside from having a distinctive brand aesthetic, what really makes us unique is the why of our teas- how each tea blend comes about. Rather than having purely functional benefits or offering the “usual” blend options, travel is what inspired our blends. Each blend is created from a travel memory, experience or dream, and it is the sights, scents and tastes of a place, that inform what ingredients we put into a tea.

 

What advice would you give others who are wanting to start a business?

As Nike says.. just do it! You will never know until you just try it. No matter how much research you do, it’s only in putting it out there that you will know whether something is worthwhile or works.  Sure, start small and figure out your minimum viable product, or the lowest risk you can take in testing the waters, but you just have to try.

 

Why do you think it is important to support our locals?

Think 2020 has taught us all the importance of supporting our local, small businesses- with the madness of the world around us, and with so much out of our control in a larger sense- what happens in our local communities, to those around us, that’s what really matters and impacts you. We’ve all spent a lot more time learning to appreciate the smaller, and closer things nearer to us.

 

What are some of your 2021 business goals?

I would love to say that after a year of uncertainty, its full steam ahead on “normal life” but I think 2021 is going to be about remaining flexible and adaptable… but it will also continue to be about connection. With that said, one of our goals is to deepen and grow our relationship with our community. 2020 gave us the chance to be more creative in how we engage with them, and we heard more from a lot of them, but we would like to continue to do that and do it better because without them, there is no us.

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