At Big Heart Tea Co., our mission is to ethically source the highest quality ingredients, produce the best tasting teas, herbs, and blends to improve the health and well-being of those we serve. The company was founded based on an original turmeric tea recipe, our Cup of Sunshine. When we started, we knew every detail about its ingredients — but as we grew, the logistics of scaling replaced farmer relationships with inventory reliability.
For the past 2-years Big Heart Tea Co., has been on a quest to connect our herbs and spices with real people throughout the supply chain. Along the way, we’ve learned that the herb and spice trade is old, dusty and primed for innovation.
We learned that small, land-owning farmers are at the mercy of corporate importers who leverage their massive buying power to control the price and buy at unsustainable rates. This old way of doing business is only good for one person — the middleman — and it leaves small growers little opportunity to advance.
We reject these clandestine, exploitative trade practices, and we know that a growing section of the market does, too.
Over the course of the past 6 months, Big Heart Tea Co.’s staff and team of pro-bono industry experts have been writing and talking, and talking and writing out our strategy for collaborative, purposeful growth. In August of this year, we pitched our BIG idea to a room of savvy investors and business executives at a global business competition, Arch Grants. And guess what, we won.
We started on this path 6 years ago, and it’s looked something like this:
In 2012 we were accepted into a culinary incubator and started selling freshly grated turmeric ginger tea out of a trailer.
By 2013, we were selling tea to a few coffee shops around town and business was steady enough that I quit my day job. That same year, we applied for our first business plan competition, Ideabounce. Our application was an immature outline of our current growth strategy — transparency in the herb trade. We lost, but it was the jurors comments that hurt the worst — that we were a “lifestyle business, not scalable.”
In 2014, we opened and closed our brick-and-mortar tea shop, and I had my one and only child, Astrid Louise.
2015 had us applying to an even larger start-up competition, Prosper, and we lost again (rejection was delivered without comment).
2016 SUCKED but 2017 was on fire: we launched Big Heart Tea Co., entered 43 states and Canada, and I took the companies first ever sourcing trip.
And here we are — 2018. Well, well, well, 2018, are you trying to kill me? For real, all of the sudden, supply chain transparency is cool — which is awesome. And now, with the support of Arch Grants and the local start-up community, we can shift focus (ever so slightly) and scale our sourcing to improve the quality of our herbal ingredients.
Our list of thanks is long, y’all, AND it starts and ends with you.
Extra special thanks to Arch Grants board, staff, and judges for believing in us. Baba Jideo of Makers Valley for making our 7am web development meeting banging. Laura Burkemper of the Catalyst Center for helping us find the best words to talk about our work. Jason Bockman of Strange Donuts for helping us form the best pitch ever! Chelsie Helligie, for overcoming all obstacles and putting the final touches on our grant from an internet cafe in Thailand. My momma, Donna Govro, for input and support in every single way. Kunthearath Nhek-Morrissey, for reading our application in the first round as a judge and defending our application in the second round as our new VP Operations and Sustainability.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
- Lisa Govro, Founder, Big Heart Tea Co.