Black Entrepreneur Spotlight Series
We would greatly appreciate it if you could tell us a little about your company.
Ivy’s Tea Co. is a Hip-Hop and pop culture inspired holistic health brand that offers teas blended by an herbalist for the culture. The company was birthed out of a desire of my own to be a true social activist. And I felt like one of the biggest changes I could make is in creating products and eventually a space for marginalized groups of people. The whole Starbucks situation speaks directly to why I have aspirations of owning my own tea shop – we need safe spaces for Black people to simply exist. And instead of convincing white owned businesses to welcome us, I decided that I would make my own.
What was your child hood aspirations?
As a child I wanted to be an attorney. And every day I am so glad that did not happen :). I am a proud graduate of Bowie State University where I got degrees in English Literature, where I focused primarily on African American and Multi-Ethnic literature. It was in college that I began to write more about Hip-Hop and rap music in the same way that I’d write about the works of William Wordsworth and August Wilson. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was working towards my current marketing style with Ivy’s Tea Co., where I weave Hip-Hop culture into pretty much every aspect of the business. Hip-Hop is an incredible marketing tool, it should be used by only those who truly love it.
Can you give our readers a quick answer on business advice?
The best piece of advice I got came from Kezia Williams, Founding Director at The Black UpStart, an organization that helps aspiring entrepreneurs take their business from idea to product in 6 days (it’s also how I started Ivy’s Tea Company back in 2016). Kezia told me, “Done is better than perfect.” And I find so many entrepreneurs who take pride in being perfectionists and I remember when I was at that stage. I had no business, no money, and no way out of my current situation working at a 9 to 5 I hated.
We have to be bold enough to take the leap to start our businesses, create prototypes, get the logo, write the business plan, buy the domain name (and the matching e-mail address – no more MYDOPEASSBUSINESS@yahoo.com), start the social media pages, create the content – just go. It’s not going to be perfect, but at least you did something. If I were waiting for the perfect time and the perfect packaging, you wouldn’t even know about Ivy’s Tea Co. because it would just be an idea in my head. I decided I didn’t want to spend another moment just talking about owning my own business, I was going to do it and sell it and somebody was gonna buy it lol.
What was your toughest challenge?
My toughest challenge has been networking. I do well as a solopreneur because I am an introvert and I like being away from people most of the time lol. But networking is how I learn about opportunities to collaborate with other brands, upcoming pitch competitions, and get a lot of free advice in conversations with other business owners. It takes a bit of time to get myself excited about networking, but once I’m there I remember why I’m doing this (to make Ivy’s Tea Co. the most successful Black owned tea shop in this country!) and that makes things a lot easier.