Tea Enthusiasts – Case Study

Four Generations of Tea Lovers Brew Up New North Tyneside Venture

Photograph featuring (l-r) Liza Johnson from tea enthusiasts and Janice Ross, business advisor at North Tyneside Business Factory.

Four generations of tea lovers from one family are brewing up exciting plans for a new business following a £25,000 business loan from Virgin StartUp and assistance from the North Tyneside Business Factory.

Liza Johnson (38) is the founder of The Tea Enthusiasts, a new business selling a curated selection of teas from across the globe to customers in the UK.

Tea Enthusiasts currently sells a wide range of loose leaf teas and accessories through a bespoke online platform that aims to service a range of domestic and trade customers interested in broadening their range of specialist and everyday teas.

The business started trading in January 2018 and has quickly become a family affair, with Liza’s mother, daughter, son and even Nan all pitching in alongside a newly appointed 17 year old apprentice currently training as part of the warehouse and quality control team.

Liza comments: “Tea has always been in my blood. My mother is a tea merchant and is almost never without a pouch of her favourite blend of tea to make sure doesn’t have to settle for an underwhelming cup. Her love of tea blends filtered down to me throughout my youth and I have always been able to make a fan of even the loudest voice of dissent when it comes to the taste of tea.

“I grew up with tea, my children have grown up with tea and now, through Tea Enthusiasts, I can share my passion with the world with the aim of building a strong brand offering quality teas and blends from across the globe.”

Liza formerly worked in child protection as a social worker before undertaking self-employment with a joint comic-book shop and trading card company. However, the idea for tea enthusiasts really started to take shape in summer 2017 and Liza felt the time was right for a change.

Liza comments:

“I was ready for a new venture and felt that with my personal passion for the product and expert knowledge within the family to source quality teas from global suppliers, there was an opportunity to create a new business. Tea is a real growth product given that it is one of the few natural beverages to contain no salt, fat or calories and in many known varieties has proven health benefits to the drinker.”

“We literally scour the globe for the very best tea and seek to provide a ‘world of flavour’ with individual packets of tea for sale in different sizes on our website. We also offer a more adventurous subscription service designed to open up customers to new flavours. Our tea is about accessible affordable everyday luxury and wellness.”

“We advise as well as sell and our online community has really grown with enthusiasts seeking our help on what to try and when, we even create signature blends for firms. Many people don’t understand that tea, like food produce, is seasonal and only a professional will know when to get the most out of your cup. For instance, Sri Lankan black tea is generally agreed to be some of the finest tea in the world but it really should only be sourced March to Mid-April to coincide with their tea season.”

Liza worked with the North Tyneside Business Factory to develop a robust and detailed business plan designed to launch Tea Enthusiasts to an online marketplace. She was assigned a personal business advisor in the form of Janice Ross to advise on planning, premises and routes to market in addition to the more important aspects of financing the business launch.

Liza comments:

“Janice has given me a great deal of support and assistance in helping to get Tea Enthusiasts off the ground in a way that put the business in the best position for success. In addition to the one-to-one mentoring she offered on all aspects of running this type of business, she also helped me find the right type of finance to meet the capital needs of the business through a Virgin StartUp loan.”

Virgin StartUp is delivered exclusively in the North East by Tedco Business Support and offers low-cost, government-backed business loans to new business ventures up to the value of £25,000.

Janice Ross, business advisor at the North Tyneside Business Factory comments:

“Liza was successful in receiving £25,000 in a business loan from Virgin StartUp which has helped to finance everything from initial stock to the warehouse premises essential to get the business running from day one. Tea Enthusiasts is a business borne out of passion and knowledge and it has been a pleasure working with Liza to really work through the many different facets of an e-commerce business with a b2b and b2c audience. I have every confidence that she will make a success of Tea Enthusiasts – she’s certainly opened my tastebuds up to new teas over the last few months!”