What were you doing when you were 17 years old? I was living at home, going to college, going out with my friends and the only worry I had was what I was going to wear out that weekend.
Meet April…she’s 17 years old, is living at home and doing her A-Levels…but she’s also a year into running her very own business – The Leafy Tea Company.
I met up with April to chat about how she got into the tea business, what’s it like to run a successful business at 17 – obviously this was all done over a fine cup of tea! (sorry for having an English Breakfast Tea April!!)
How did this all start? – It started in January 2016. I wanted to set up a business before the Christmas but wasn’t entirely sure what it was I wanted to do so nothing came to fruition. After receiving some vouchers for Harrods we took a trip and I spent all the money on tea as it’s something I’ve always loved. However when I got open, I was really disappointed by the quality so decided to start looking into things a little. Within 4 days, I had set up Leafy Tea!
I started off with loose leaf tea however found that this wasn’t as popular – realistically, many people like the idea of having a ‘proper cup of tea’ however everyone has busy lives and cleaning out the teapot of loose tealeaves isn’t on the top of everyone’s priority list! I switched to teabags and it’s been much more successful.
Where do you source the tea from? – I was lucky enough to visit Malawi recently for some charity work through school. I managed to persuade a teacher to allow me and friend (plus the teacher) to visit a tea plantation where we did some tea tasting and have a look around to really understand the business. When I returned home, I immediately imported some and we now sell this as our Morning Malawi tea. From each sale, 40p goes to the Fishermans Rest organisation so I’m giving something back to the community.
Where does the future of Leafy Tea lie? – When I’ve finished my A-Levels, I don’t want to go to university, I want to focus on running the company. I’d like to do a course through Pearson Business College which allows you to study and run a business at the same time. They offer support to entrepreneurs which I think is excellent. Work experience is absolute key when you’re my age and I don’t think people realise that.
We’ll be moving to pyramid teabags in the near future and I’m waiting on samples of my own blend to be delivered. I’m determined to get a better blend of tea out there to people rather than what you get in the supermarkets.
What’s the best thing about running your own business? – It’s definitely give me more confidence. I’m the shy, quiet one at the back of the class who never puts her hand up to answer the question but by running Leafy Tea I’ve had to get out and meet new people and interact with lots of different people.
What’s been the hardest thing to overcome? – Probably people not taking me seriously as I’m so young. We do a lot of farmers markets and my Mum comes to help. A lot of people tend to ask her questions rather than me and although she directs them to me, they’ll often ask for clarification from her despite her telling people that it’s not her business!
It’s also been tricky trying to juggle running the business, doing the farmers markets and of course, my school work! I get my studies done during my free periods leaving the evenings and weekend free to answer any work emails, do any packing and do the markets!
What’s your favourite tea?! – My go to cup of tea is a cup of chai made with half a cup of hot milk…delicious!
April kindly gifted me 2 packs of tea from her range – the Morning Malawi and the coconut tea. As you may know, JB cannot have cows milk so was instantly drawn to the coconut tea which has got a delicious delicate flavour and isn’t overwhelming despite there being a strong smell when you initially open the packaging. The Morning Malawi is also delicious (I take mine with milk…I don’t do black tea…) and its great to know that I’ll be helping a local community when I make a restock!
You can buy Leafy Tea from Widcome Deli, Galleries in Freshford, Mes Amis in Beckington and Rowde Post Office. Of course, you can also order it online here.
How many 17 year old’s do you know that have their own tea chest?!
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