Canadians and double-doubles have made many stories, but with the rising benefits of antioxidant-rich tea, many Canadians traced their love for tea once again. Furthermore, with an immigrant-rich background of people from India, China, Sri Lanka, the tea lovers community steadfastly increased in Canada. In a conversation, Piyali Chakrabarti, owner of Toronto-based Tea basket, a one-stop-shop for tea lovers, explains how her business tapped this community and made sure the perfect daily elixir reaches its lovers every morning without fail.
Tell us how the Tea Basket started? What is it all about?
We all learned the common adage, “Necessity is the mother of all inventions,” when we were young. Tea Basket has a similar story to tell. We wake up in the morning, and a sip of the Darjeeling tea preps us up for the rest of the eventful day. However, in Canada, it is not available all the time quickly. There was only one international brand available, though neither the quality nor the supply reliability was up to our requirement. Thus, Tea Basket was created to provide a consistent source of top-quality Darjeeling tea for connoisseurs. It’s all about top-quality Darjeeling tea, black, green, and curated teas.
Why did you pick this niche tea business line?
We are tea lovers and especially fond of the Darjeeling tea, which is a classic in itself. As its availability was very limited in Canada, we wanted to establish a steady, reliable source. In Canada, the market for specialty teas does exist, but there are very few businesses around it. We capitalized on it, as it had a personal chord attached to our lives and gave us a reason to work for the better good.
Who was your inspiration behind this innovative business idea?
I would say our love for tea and the quest to source that good quality tea was the primary source of inspiration. Furthermore, we have had great support from the tea producers. They encouraged us in this business and pledged to support us with reliable supply throughout the year.
When businesses paused due to COVID, how are you managing it in this testing time?
Our business faced a major roadblock earlier when people could travel around the world on their own. Most of our clientele are people who have ties with India and know the taste of Darjeeling Tea. So just like us, they too sourced their stocks from India whenever they travelled home. However, with COVID, travel ceased, and demand for the tea rose. People wanted to get their regular cup of tea when they wake up in the morning. So to procure it, they are now ready to get it from anywhere near them. Honestly, COVID gave us an edge in our business, and it has been going well since then.
How do you source the items for sale?
We are an approved reseller of teas for Canada and the US market for a big producer in India, the Goodricke Group Limited. They are a socially responsible tea producer who is also ethical and have the highest level of integrity. The products are Rainforest Alliance certified, FSSC22000 certified. They have their fair trade certification and USDA certification for their organic varieties. Thus, we have a lot of faith and trust in the product we bring in.
How is your business doing currently? How big is your clientele now?
We have a Facebook page where we post and promote our business. As of now, it’s more focussed on Facebook marketing reach and word of mouth from our group of tea lovers. However, we are in the process of developing our online portal and extending our reach to more and more customers across Canada and the US.
How big is your team?
We are a team of two. My husband and I work together to make sure our Tea Basket reaches all the tea lovers across the US and Canada where we serve.
Where do you see your business post COVID?
We have done competitive research on available teas online as well as in the market. We firmly believe that quality and price-wise, we are far better placed than many of the available products in the market. Once our online presence is established, we would reach out to more tea lovers and grow our business.
What help do you think you would need to grow your business in this pandemic?
COVID had kept us all indoors, and due to social distancing, networking took a toll. Reaching out to more tea lovers across the country as well as overseas is an issue. As offices and retail spaces are closed, connecting to corporates for servicing the tea lovers there is also a difficult task to achieve. So I believe our online presence is firmly required as time passes by now. The faster we can jump in to do that, the better it would be for us and all tea lovers.
Any advice/tips to the entrepreneurs around you?
Passion and dedication for whatever business you want to do is the key to success. You don’t need to start big, but small meaningful steps can help you reach miles with your zeal.
Pialy Chakrabarti’s Tea Basket is a one-stop shop for all speciality tea lovers. Whether it is simple Darjeeling tea or its roasted flavoured varieties, Tea Basket can quench your thirst and get you started for that extra energy to kick start the day. Presently, Tea Basket does a free delivery across GTA (Greater Toronto Area) on a minimum purchase order.
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Author: Debarati Mukherjee, for The Onside Media, Toronto, Canada. If you have any stories or comments, kindly email: – email@example.com or visit LinkedIN