Meet Allison DeVane, the founder behind TEASPRESSA, a gourmet tea company that's known for it's fun and engaging pop-up shops. After launching her business, Allison has learned a thing or two about entrepreneurship, and she shares her unique success story with us below. For Working Girls looking to launching a food and beverage-related business, this one's for you! Q: When did launching your own tea-related business first spark your mind, and what is your background experience in food and beverage?
A: Ever since I was little I have always wanted to start some sort of business and open a coffee shop. It never really dawned on me what business, but I figured that one day I would it would eventually come to me. My path to tea actually started from my journey with coffee. Part of my interest in coffee started from my tradition with my father to travel, discover niche coffee shops, and try all the specialty things they had to offer. Fast forward to my first job as a barista at a local coffee shop, and I loved it. Something about understanding and making coffee drinks – especially lattes with fun latte art – calms my heart and makes me so genuinely happy.
Since then I have been involved in the business because I loved it so much – it's been 8 years! Additionally, I have a marketing and events background, and did a lot of freelance in consulting with local businesses and restaurants while working with a digital agency in NYC that specialized in consulting with restaurants. I have spent significant time working in all types of positions from front of house to management as well as worked as a third party for restaurants and hospitality. I suppose I have been involved food and beverage professionally and personally for quite some time!
Q: Tell us about the unique story behind TEASPRESSA and its pop-up shops throughout Arizona!
A: Based on my story behind my dream of having a business, coffee shop, and love for coffee, this all came together to make TEASPRESSA. Recently I saw the opportunity for me to do something for myself and start a business. All I knew was that I wanted to have a business that made a difference. If my business was a coffee shop, it couldn't just be another coffee shop.
Lately, I've noticed that there has been a trend of consumers trying to find healthier alternatives to coffee by drinking tea. At the time tea tasted like I was drinking flavored water and I found it to be quite unsubstantial in comparison to the robust gourmet coffee counterpart. So why can't tea be as enjoyable as coffee? This is how TEASPRESSA was born.
TEASPRESSA is a concentrated tea that has similar consistencies as coffee and therefore can be made into gourmet coffee drinks like lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, flat whites – you name it! Not only that, but some of the teas have just as much caffeine as a cup of coffee if you're looking for that clean boost without the coffee jitters. I felt that the TEASPRESSA concept was the answer to my dreams of having a coffee shop, starting a business, and doing something that was truly different. TEASPRESSA has actually led me to develop other new products such as tea infused pastries and inventing new tea technology.
Considering the fact that TEASPRESSA is practically a brand new company I figured it was best to start not necessarily small, but smart. I wanted to convey TEASPRESSA's luxurious and innovative presence with my modest budget so I thought pop-up shops would be most effective.
Additionally, I make my own tea blends which will be readily available to purchase online as well as other products in the near future. Right now I can be found on a decorated little cart at local events, festivals, and private parties.
Q: TEASPRESSA recently garnered media attention from the Phoenix Business Journal and Kickstarter – what are some of your marketing tactics that have gotten TEASPRESSA media love as the brand has grown?
Word of mouth – it is absolutely done wonders for me! I absolutely love what I do so it is hard for me not to share my enthusiasm with others. When it comes to representing my brand and being present in front of consumers I always
make sure that presentation and service is at its best. I feel that the biggest feedback I get on why people love TEASPRESSA is the intriguing aesthetics I create for each event, my friendliness, and the fact that the product sells itself – people love it. With all these positive vibes and a touch of my personal hustle, I feel that I have covered quite some ground for the short amount of time TEASPRESSA has been created.
Q: Walk us through what a day in the life of the founder of TEASPRESSA is like – lots of vendor meetings, calls, and networking?
Every day is an exciting adventure. Even though I may not have a set time to be in a office, TEASPRESSA, which fortunately happens to be my passion, is also my job. I wake up early, quickly run through my morning rituals, then usually have a plain Manhattan Black Tea Latte while I draft and check my daily, weekly, and monthly to-do list on my calendar. Since some of my vendors and contacts are on East Coast time, I prefer doing all my phone calls earlier in the day.
After I wrap up my chit chats I am off on the quest checking off all my to-dos that range from new product development, marketing ideation and business outreach. Throughout the day I like to expose myself to new things for inspiration whether it be simply surfing on the web, reading business articles, literature based on the industry, Instagram
, or my favorite, venturing out to try something new whether it be food, a new book store, networking, etc - I love learning!
Midday I snack on almonds and usually have at least one lunch or coffee – or should I say "tea" – date a day with someone new, a friend, or business partner. After a hectic day I like to unwind and catch up with friends & family and ideal evening at home is having a light dessert while watching a movie and writing in my ideation journal on a cozy couch. It doesn't sound like much but it is my ultimate zen where I usually doodle creative ideas. Before I go to bed I write an overview of things I have accomplished and goals, then sweet dreams.
I find writing down accomplishments and setting goals is especially important in my daily routine to keep up self-motivation and to ensure that I am keeping myself in high standards. In fact, some staple items I am very particular about always
having on me is my calendar, ideation notebook, inventions graph paper journal, laptop, phone, and Micron ink pen.
Q: What advice would you have for fellow women looking to embark on their own entrepreneurial adventure? How should they prepare before taking the “leap”?
A: I believe you can make a living doing anything. If there is something that you love to do I say figure out a way to monetize it and go for it: set goals, list accomplishments, just do it, & really live your dream.
I think starting is the hardest part and what steers away those from going through their entrepreneurial adventures because you can be intimidated about whether or not if you are ready to enter the market, feel overwhelmed by the amount of work and complications that have to be completed, and get extremely discouraged due to the fact that all the time and effort you put in goes unpaid, without reward.
My suggestion on how to conquer this steep hill of entrepreneurial struggle is writing short, middle, and long-term goals. I'm not saying you have to write a business plan or a novel but simple bullet points like "register business on XX or write email to XX about partnership" (short term), "Finish developing a new product by XX" (middle term), and "Make my First Sale by XX" (long term). By simply writing your goals on your calendar, you can set defined date lines for you and visually see/get a feel of your progress.
Another highly important thing to do is frequently write your accomplishments. Personally, I like to quickly reflect on my daily accomplishments by having a checklist, writing bigger accomplishments I have had over each month, and use that data to set goals for next month. Spending that small amount of time to really appreciate the things you have done is the fuel to your drive to keep going, the greatest personal reward.
Just Do It
This can seem like something very difficult to do but in actuality be the easiest. Sometimes I felt as though I wasn't ready to release my website because it wasn't perfect, or perhaps I shouldn't volunteer to sponsor an event because I was unsure whether or not I would be ready. Ready or not, I say just go for it. Chances are you are going to make more sales with your website live than not at all, and working those events will only make you better and more prepared for the next one. If you don't start, you are definitely spending more time and effort with a 100% chance of not having any source of discovery and, ultimately, income. Besides, people will understand, especially considering you're a new business.
Live Your Dream
I don't go a day without sharing TEASPRESSA with at least one new person. TEASPRESSA is now integrated into my life and I feel as though it seamlessly weaves into both my personal and professional life. I'm not saying that TEASPRESSA is the only thing I talk about in conversation but it is something I enthusiastically share, it's my dream job! I strongly believe that if you ask and actively contribute something to the world, good things will come back to you. People will see your happiness, want to share that feeling with you, and help you reach your goals. I can't thank all those who have been a part of my journey to get me to where I am today. I saw my chance to live my dream and decided to do it, I think anyone else can, too.
Keep up with Allison and TEASPRESSA on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!