It’s the time of the year when we think about where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished, and how we can make the next year just a bit brighter. Undoubtedly, thinking about 2020 is not an easy task for most of us. For too many, this year was filled with challenges and even heartbreak, and its end can’t come soon enough!
Thinking back over the ups and downs of 2020, one thing is clear - this year has been our most difficult and most rewarding yet as a business. Despite the ups and downs, however, we’d be remiss if we didn’t let you know just how important you were in keeping our business going.
It is because of our customers, our fans, and our family and friends that we made it through. Your orders, reviews, comments and referrals are literally what kept us in business. We saw much of our retail business evaporate with the pandemic, but so many of you switched to ordering online that it kept us going and growing!
Although this year sometimes feels like it was a decade, it also sometimes feels like it flashed by in seconds. Part of that feeling is because we have been so busy pivoting our business online and launching 13 new flavors! That’s pretty incredible for any business in a normal year, and certainly a tall order in this extraordinary year. It’s hard to believe - even for us - that all this has happened over the course of just one year.
So, we wanted to take a moment to walk you through the highlights to let you know just how important you have been in that journey!
WORKING WITH OUR CUSTOMERS TO DONATE TEA
One of the things we're proudest of is that despite challenges that seemed to crop up daily in the first months of the pandemic, we managed to run a donation program for healthcare workers. YOU drove that program! For two months, we turned 10% of your orders into servings of tea that went directly to healthcare workers you knew and nominated all around the country.
That program got tens of thousands of servings of tea into the hands of the people who most needed a clean source of caffeine! It also allowed us to e-meet some incredible heroes who inspired us with their resilience and by helping put our own challenges into perspective.
A NEW LINE OF HERBAL TEAS
Although we managed an end-of-year release in late 2019 for our first herbal tea - Everyday Wellness - Deep Doze, Immune Boost, Mellow Movement and Slim Savvy all came in early 2020, and Blueberry Chrysanthemum and Rose Ginger came along in October.
We have been so proud of these teas, for many reasons. They are an answer to a customer request we badly wanted to fulfill: offering caffeine-free teas. They are based on Chinese medicine formulations to offer functional benefits in addition to incredible flavor. But, unlike many herbal teas on the market, most can be consumed purely for flavor because they're just that good!
EXPANDING FROM CUSA TEA TO CUSA TEA & COFFEE
Yes, we added “rebranding” to that big list of feats. It was a natural decision once we were no longer selling only tea. Expanding to coffee was one of the best decisions we've made - it has allowed us to meet new groups of customers and offer something not seen on the market before: an instant coffee that is made by a cold-brew process.
TWO SUCCESSFUL KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGNS
Launching new items is tremendously expensive. From the R&D expenses: ordering new packaging and raw materials, to production costs and shipping it out to all our customers, the cost of developing a new product can add up quickly.
That’s why we asked for help from you, through Kickstarter, to help us recoup some of those costs upfront. It made all the difference! Not only were we able to launch our FIVE original coffee items at once, but they also catapulted sales for these items and allowed us to go back to product development even faster for the next two coffee items: Mocha and Dirty Chai. So thank you!
NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
Staying afloat in 2020 has been hard. The majority of our business was in retail stores, and we saw that business significantly decline by the affects of the pandemic. We made a lot of hard decisions internally to batten down the hatches and only invest in programs that we knew would succeed. These are never easy decisions, and there were a lot of sleepless nights.
Having said all that, we were blown away by the increase in our eCommerce business. Simply put - it saved us. We were forced to fine-tune our eCommerce expertise overnight and have worked tirelessly to transition our business to better serve our online customers. We are really proud of what we were able to accomplish and we have some BIG and exciting things coming in the new year that we know you are going to love.
A HUGE THANK YOU!!!
From our mighty team of three, Jim, Robin and Baylee, we can't say THANK YOU enough! We are so thankful that all our efforts in 2020 were met with enthusiasm and support from our community. We promise to keep innovating, staying true to our principles and bringing you new and exciting offerings next year and in all the years to come.
Happy Holidays and stay safe everyone!
Jim, Robin, Baylee