Tea Rebellion_ Our Terrible Twos

Tea for 2 – Years Old!

Who of you has missed a big milestone (wedding anniversary is the classic but there are others – such as your company launch date!).

To me October 17 was Tea Rebellion’s Two Year Anniversary, then Facebook reminded me that it was actually October 11. So, I am a few days late. Ooops – well this is how busy start-up life is!

When I look back over the past two years, I can honestly say that I have never learnt that much in a short period of time and been as proud of the fruits of my work. It’s been an amazing journey, with incredible new opportunities and challenges every single week! I would not want to miss a day! In this blog, I am sharing personal highlights and surprises of running this start-up.

Some of the most amazing highlights include:

Our partners – my travels to the Himalayas to visit our partner farms in Nepal and also to Taiwan and Japan were deeply rewarding and inspiring. The special tea cultures, unique socio-economic fabrics and warm welcomes and lots of inside-out warming cups have made these truly amazing. Looking forward to many more amazing tea travels and adventures.

Our fellow entrepreneurs – Getting to know the Toronto food and entrepreneurial scene through Food Starter, District Ventures Kitchen, local farmer markets, trade shows and mum entrepreneur groups such as Mama&Co has opened up a whole new world to me – it’s enriching and inspiring to be surrounded by so many change makers!

My biggest surprises (and related learnings) are:

From start-up to start-up: Had you asked me when my social impact venture would graduate from a start-up to sustainable small business I would have told you “One year at most”. Our Two Year Anniversary is here and yet we are definitely still a start-up going through its growing pains. Can things go faster? Yes with sizeable external financial backing it can but that comes at a price to strategic independence and financial ownership… we have opted for becoming a growing at our own pace!

Watch the cash flow: All of us who are surrounded by people who either run their own or teach about business, will have heard this phrase “Cash is king”. I must have heard it 50 times before launching this venture. However, there is learning and there is first hand experience! Without an incoming salary cheque at the end of the month, effective cash management I have realized Is the number one important business capability for early stage self funded ventures.

Say yes please to free help: Anyone who launched almost anything from scratch – a project, a community event, a social venture –  will tell you that without free help and support – friends, spouses, kids, parents, fellow entrepreneurs – their venture would not have not come off successfully. Our social fabric is amazingly built on support and community spirit! Thank you for all the tremendous help from family and friends over the past 2 years. Please keep offering and we will continue to stay yes please and thank you!

24/7 outside the comfort zone: As human beings we all have capabilities that play to our strengths, and reversely situations that take us out of our comfort zone. In my role as Founder of @tearebellion, I am now almost 24/7 outside my comfort zone (travelling to my partner farms is the exception). Here are some examples of what I mean: Do I like myself live on social feeds? No! Did I know anything about digital marketing prior to this? Not very much! Do I like to do pitch events? OMG no! The good news is that slowly but surely these comfort zones are shifting….lets see what else can become habitual.

With immense thankfulness for all the amazing experiences over the past two years I raise my cup to you our partners, helpers and customers! I am thrilled about the journey ahead!


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About the author: Annabel Kalmar founded Tea Rebellion to change the way tea is traded and to connect tea drinkers with tea farmers. She noted that consumers care deeply about the origin of their coffee, but are still in the dark when it comes to their tea. She developed a passion for improving farmers’ market access and incomes while studying agriculture and working in the fields of El Salvador and St. Lucia, harvesting coffee and interviewing farmers. She founded Tea Rebellion to change how tea is traded, marketed and consumed.

Posted in Startup Life
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Rosalyn Kalmar October 19, 2019, 8:35 pm

    I just read and thoroughly enjoyed your blog. Congratulations on your progress…and for moving out of your comfort zone! This is an inspiring example, since all of us human beings have areas in our lives that challenge and invite us to grow.

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