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When people think back on the year 2020, most will probably admit that it wasn't the best time of their life. Sure it will be memorable, but for a lot of us, it won't be in a positive light. Truth be told, I started this tea company out of a lifelong love of travel and experiencing new things, both of which were taken away this past year.

 

I started Grounded Tea because I loved exploring the globe far and wide, connecting with other people and cultures in a way that's only possible by stepping out of our comfort zones. This was something I had to continually remind myself of this year as the pandemic restricted our freedoms and changed the way we did business.

 

Combining my love for tea, travel and people, I discovered early on that my purpose in life was to connect Canadians with a daily ritual that made them feel good. This launched my career as an entrepreneur and the founder of a tea company, encouraging people to sit in front of their mug each day and connect with themselves, a practice so common in many other cultures. I saw this as a way to bring so much of what I loved about being abroad back home to my roots, uniting people and cultures across oceans with a simple daily ritual.

 

Being an entrepreneur has allowed me many freedoms in life, in addition to travelling the world. I have the flexibility to pick my children up from school and never miss a recital. I am my own boss so I am in charge of balancing motherhood and my creative outlet. However, I never imagined that owning a business would have so many ups and downs, just as everything worthwhile tends to have. 

 

When I look back over last year, I could say that it was terrible. 
I could say that Grounded Tea almost didn’t survive. 
I could also say that it was the best thing that ever happened to us at Grounded Tea. 

 

Prior to the pandemic, we had a nice, dependable business model, servicing restaurants and cafes on a regular basis. When the government regulations closed these same restaurants and cafes, our business came to a grinding halt. I was in the middle of my second maternity leave and, as I looked at my company's dwindling bank account, I thought to myself: "This is it. This is my opportunity, my tipping point." I could either let the company go under due to external forces beyond my control, or I could gather all of my energy and attack this new obstacle with everything I have. I asked myself, "Why am I doing this? Does Grounded Tea really matter?" 

 

And my answer was simple: it isn’t about what we are, it's about who we are.

 

We don’t plant trees because we think it’s a good marketing play; we plant trees because those trees create farms, and those farms create food security and businesses for families on the brink of survival. We don't blend tea to make a sale; we blend holistic tea to help people live healthier, more fulfilled lives. I love everything that Grounded Tea stands for because it's not about making a buck; it's about making a difference.

 

Now you may ask, "How can a simple cup of tea fulfill someone?" For me, there's nothing I look forward to more in the morning or the afternoon — I feel a deep sense of peace with every warm sip. It transports me to another world, one where worries slip away and I’m more 'in the moment' than any other time. I know exactly what I'm drinking and the health benefits it provides in combating stress and maintaining my overall health (even when I skip that kale salad I know I should probably be having for lunch — it's not always easy to choose healthily). That's why a daily ritual focused on health and internal wellbeing kept me sane amidst the chaos.

 

Throughout the pandemic, it would have been easy to focus on the negative (and trust me, sometimes I did). However, with the pause in my sales, I was able to sit back and observe all the amazing positive interactions happening around me:

 

  • I saw business owners, Calgarians and fellow Canadians rally together and support each other. 
  • I saw the #BuyLocal movement spring to life here in the city and across the globe.
  • I saw local nonprofits get government funding to help finance women-owned businesses because they know the value and role that women play in business and entrepreneurship.
  • I personally experienced the desperation of photographers out of work, shooting around the clock to expand their portfolios in other areas and offering free product shots.

 

This time of peace, which could have so easily been viewed as our downfall, allowed me to re-evaluate why Grounded Tea exists and what our purpose is. Because I saw this vision so clearly and truly feel that we are here to impact and better human lives, I built up the courage and seized the opportunity to level up my business and elevate our role in the marketplace.

 

For all of you who are still struggling, still fighting, still debating if it's worth it to keep going, here's the hard truth:

 

We had $400 left in our bank account at one point in 2020, and I thought, "Tomorrow, we might be broke." But thanks to our incredible Calgary network of small business owners and loyal customers dedicated to supporting local, we were able to stay afloat and enter 2021 stronger than ever. We know this isn't the case for many, and we recognize our fortune. Sometimes we need to know the darkness so we can appreciate the light. 

 

We could not have made it through these trying times without local support, and these heroes deserve a shoutout:

 

  • Daughter Creative - for the incredible rebrand so that we entered 2021 with a bang
  • Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association - for our partnership that would provide Grounded Tea with the most talented, newcomer women working at our company
  • Cole Hofstra Photography - for our amazing product shots
  • Jesse Elliott Photography - for our beautiful lifestyle tea shots
  • Content by Kelsey - for helping us communicate our brand mission clearly and consistently with our community for the last year
  • Alberta Women Entrepreneurs - for the loan we were able to secure that would forever change our path
  • Digital Mainstreet - for helping us get our online storefront and gorgeous new website
  • Be Local YYC - for their never-ending support and network of fabulous Calgary owned businesses

 

And, of course, a huge THANK YOU to our loyal friends and family who chose to buy locally-blended, ethically imported FairTrade teas for themselves and their loved ones.

 

We couldn't have done it without you <3



1 Response

Stepanka
Stepanka

May 16, 2021

It’s wonderful and inspiring! I am so happy for you!

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