May 28, 2024

Tea with Tae: Steeped in Success

Written By

Onramp Funds

Tea with Tae: Steeped in Success

Since working with Onramp

+

164

%

growth in first 3 months

+

144

%

growth in first year

+

149

%

all time growth

Journey to Innovation in Tea Blending

Tae's journey into the world of eCommerce wasn't planned. As an influencer marketing manager in the food industry, she recognized a gap in the market when she couldn’t find a customizable tea gift. This inspired her to launch "Tea with Tae," leveraging her food influencer connections to gain early traction. The idea took off, propelled by the popularity of their signature Tea Bento Boxes.

Meet Tae! The gifter behind Tea with Tae.

As demand soared, Tea with Tae outgrew their initial commissary kitchen and transitioned through increasing space needs, finally moving into a large warehouse. Tae’s husband, Roderick, a patent lawyer with an engineering background, joined the business, contributing his expertise to streamline operations and manage their "secret weapon"—an innovative tea machine that keeps costs low while supporting the broader tea community.

A Deep-Seated Love for Tea

Both Tae and Roderick have had a lifelong relationship with tea, beginning in childhood as a cure-all during illness. This passion not only led them to forsake alcohol in favor of tea but drove them to become certified tea sommeliers shortly after Tae started the business. Their deep knowledge of tea and herbs has enabled them to establish direct sourcing relationships with farmers across multiple countries, enhancing the quality of their blends.

Celebrating Community

The couple's commitment to authenticity took them to the Japan America Society of Colorado to ensure their bento-box-inspired product honored its cultural origins. This engagement deepened their community ties and shaped their organization. In fact, some of Tea with Tae’s first employees were members of the Japan America Society.

Signature Tea Bento Box

Exponential Growth and Market Expansion

Tea with Tae's success is evident in its explosive growth, with sales increasing by 400% annually in recent years. The milestones of being sold in every U.S. state and securing key retail partnerships with Anthropologie and others are among Tae’s proudest achievements, underscoring the brand’s widespread appeal and dedicated customer base.

“We choose Onramp’s structure because it grows and shrinks as the business grows and shrinks, however fast and however long it takes. It was nice to know that if we ever had a slow month, we would be just fine. Additionally, a fixed amount would’ve squeezed the business”

Strategic Funding to Fuel Expansion

Recognizing the need for a tea machine to sustain growth and maintain cost efficiency, Tae and Roderick sought funding, opting for Onramp due to its flexible structure that adapts to the business’s performance. This choice was validated by Onramp's responsive support during challenging times, proving it a partner aligned with their needs.

“Onramp employs incredibly kind and personable individuals. You really feel taken care of all the way through. “

The Impact of Onramp Funding

The funding primarily facilitated the acquisition of the tea machine and bolstering inventory, critical given the global scope of their sourcing. Without Onramp's support, Tae and Roderick may have faced drastic personal financial risks or been forced to sell dilutive equity in their business to keep their dream alive.

Looking Ahead

With a robust growth trajectory, community-focused business model, and a sustainable approach to sourcing and production, Tea with Tae is poised to redefine tea consumption and tea gifting while nurturing the culture and communities that make their success possible. Their story is not just about tea; it's about passion, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of quality and authenticity.

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