How do you Cusa?
I start every morning with 2 cups of English Breakfast or Light Roast Coffee, depending on how much caffeine I need to tackle that particular day. Then, to avoid the after-lunch slump, I like to have an iced Jasmine or iced Mango Green Tea.
What's your fav flav?
That’s like asking someone who their favorite child is! It depends on the day. 😊
Where do you Cusa?
Being outside on adventures is one of my favorite things in the world. I love ski mountaineering, ice climbing, scuba diving, mountain biking and river rafting the most. I have skied multiple Himalayan peaks as well as climbed 56 out of the 58 14,000ft mountains in Colorado. The idea for Cusa came when I was tired of wet, soggy teabags while in the backcountry and dreamed of a better option. So, you could say that the outdoors is the heart blood of the brand!
What’s it like owning your own business?
There are a lot of great things, and a lot of challenging things. I love that I can build a company culture that I always wanted to work for. Things like a flexible schedule, empowerment to make a difference for the customer, and environmental responsibility have always been really important to me, and I’m proud to build a company where these are central to what we do. But running a startup has a lot of challenges, too, and I would be lying if I said that there aren’t a lot of sleepless nights trying to figure out the latest problem with limited resources. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What's something most people don't know about you?
I have lived in Asia for almost three years of my life. First, to study international business in Hong Kong for a semester in college. Then after college, I went back and taught English in Thailand and Nepal for two and a half years. This is where I really fell in love with tea and saw all the options out there.
How was Cusa affected by the pandemic?
We saw most of our retail store sales go to almost zero, which was a very scary time. But luckily, our online direct to consumer sales grew exponentially, which really saved the company! As the pandemic wanes, we are seeing a healthy balance of both, and the future looks bright.
If you could talk to yourself five years ago, what advice would you give?
Focus on direct-to-consumer sales sooner and grocery store sales less. We found, through a lot of trial and error, that standing out in a very crowded tea aisle was extremely difficult and expensive. There are just so many tea bag options, and we were an unknown brand with a new delivery format. Once we shifted the focus to online, it was much easier to tell our story, and find customers that were interested in a product like ours.