BLUE WILLOW TEASPOT
Welcome to Blue Willow Tea! I have been working hard to grow this company for nearly 10 years into a premium wholesaler of teas from all over the world. I supply over 50 cafes and restaurants both locally and nationwide with teas to serve in their establishments, and the number keeps growing. Each year I travel to Asia to meet with the farmers I work with and source new offerings to bring back to the States. But now I am ready to plunge into the retail world and open the Blue Willow Teaspot.
I have a location secured in Berkeley where I am able to warehouse my teas and do all of my blending, packaging and wholesale operations in the back, and have a lovely adjacent tasting room on the corner next door. Here, teas will be prepared as they would be at origin and I will be able to share the bounties of my travels directly with customers. There is a dedicated cupping room where I will be able to host workshops to explore the seasonal changes of teas and the different characteristics each growing region embodies. Several of the farmers I work with have already agreed to come out and meet with customers, so I will be able to offer Q & A events with them and have them talk about how they grow the tea and demonstrate different methods of preparation. There will also be a traditional Japanese Tea room, where customers can join me for a delicious bowl of ceremonial grade matcha in the Omotesenke style, which I have been practicing for over 4 years. Teas will be sold by the ounce and the atmosphere will be cozy and welcoming and offer comfortable seating and wifi.
This neighborhood is rapidly changing and 2 years ago a new Whole Foods opened on our block. There are new brewpubs popping up in the surrounding streets and small retail outlets as well. Just 2 blocks down the street Urban Adamah is making huge progress building a massive urban farm, park and community center. The Blue Willow Teaspot is located on the corner, tucked behind beautiful Japanese Maples, at the exact mid-way point between 2 shopping areas, each a block away. We are on Tenth Street, which in a few months will be the only through traffic west of San Pablo Ave, connecting the two grocery stores and shopping areas. We are also right next to University Village, which houses hundreds of Cal students and they are building additional housing as you read this.
Your support of this project will help finish the build-out here, move in the tearoom and help hire the first Blue Willow employees. Most of the work is done, and we will be open for business early this fall. In addition to the build-out, your contribution will help fund the redesigning of the retail packaging so that bags won't have to be hand-stamped anymore and we will have attractively labeled bags to bring into grocery and retail stores. This will require a new label printer and new packaging, but the expenses are no more than $4000 of the total money I need to raise.
Of course it would be great to raise over the $15,000 goal, but even raising the minimum will allow me to finish this project quickly and be able to open the doors to the public in no time!
Risks and challenges
Luckily, the risks here are limited. Because I operate an importing and wholesale company, I am bringing in enough income to fund this portion of the business until it can fully sustain itself. The scope of the changes are not huge and the operating costs are comparatively minimal, so the risks are not substantial. In addition, because most of my teas are sourced direct, the costs of the teas are as low as they can be for such high quality, and I am keeping our staff limited to a few dedicated employees who share a common passion for tea. Over the years I have been able to keep Blue Willow's prices reasonable because I have very limited operating expenses and do almost everything myself. That will not change with the opening of the Teaspot. Besides hiring employees, I will still run a tight ship so that I am able to keep expenses down and pass the savings on to my customers.
The rental agreement with my landlord is ideal and the location is only becoming better and better as the Gilman area is growing in popularity.
My experience in growing Blue Willow as much as I have has taught me what can be achieved through hard work and the Teaspot is no different. Success is the only option in my eyes.
- (30 days)