Bianca Herbert, a 28-year old founder, is launching a new line of tea-infused cookies. She also dreams of opening her own tea parlor one day. She got the idea when visiting Japan and tasting a variety of new flavors. Her site is New York Tea Co and she’s in the process of developing a range of fun holiday gifts and flavors.
In Japan, matcha (powdered green tea) is used in desserts, beverages, and other types of food. When I came back to the U.S., I wasn’t able to find great tasting products made with matcha, so I started experimenting. I then expanded my range using earl grey, chai, chamomile, and other flavors. Cookies are my main product now. I bake in Harlem at Hot Breads Kitchen Incubator.
How did you start out selling your cookies?
I created a website using Shopify and began sampling my products at events. I also posted on Reddit and got more than 60,000 visitors, which confirmed that I had a market for my products. I was a broadcasting major in college, so I understand the importance of viral marketing.
What’s the toughest part of being a start-up entrepreneur?
When you make a recipe mistake as a start-up, course-correction may take a couple of months to fix. When you’re just starting out, you don’t have the capital for inventory.
Who are your role models?
Sara Blakely of Spanx started her business with only $5,000. I also look to Momofuku because they are always doing unique and crazy things. I also joined a group at WeWork called Starting Trouble, which shares women’s entrepreneurial stories via podcasts. I connected with sheBOOM at one of Rucha’s live events, where she also interviewed me, check it out here! That just reinforces the importance of networking and mentorship in building a business.
What’s ahead for 2017?
I’m going to do more pop-up events and crowd source recipes for new flavors (especially sugar- and gluten-free varieties).
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