Two Aberystwyth University students are brewing up business success after securing funding and office space to get their premium tea business off the ground.
Amy Aed, 22, and Emily Knipe, 20, who met at university and bonded over their love for tea, have launched EISA Tea co., a premium tea business with a focus on social and environmental responsibility. The duo started their business with the help of Big Ideas Wales, part of Business Wales and funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The service is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea, including students and graduates.
With ambitions to get EISA Tea co. sold in cafés, delis and hotels from June, the business’ first products includes two pure teas and two blends. While the high quality white and green tea aims to attract traditional tea-lovers, the pair hope to draw new consumers in with their world’s first Welsh Cake tea and the UK’s first vegan sticky chai.
Talking about how EISA Tea co. originated, Emily said: “When the pandemic hit, we decided to do an online tea course to broaden our knowledge of the industry. After discovering even more about all the ethical issues associated with tea farming, we couldn’t even enjoy a cuppa without feeling guilty.
“We recognised other tea lovers out there might also be in the same moral dilemma and soon realised that there was a gap in the market for delicious, flavoured tea with less of an environmental burden. This became the main motivation in ensuring our products are responsibly farmed and that EISA Tea co. is an ethical business.”
Adding to EISA Tea co.’s ethical standpoint, Amy said: “We are a women-owned and women-operated business, and we want to use our resources to directly empower women across the globe. Most of the tea farmers we plan on working with are women, and we have strict standards of gender equality across farms.”
Teas free from plastics, packaging made from biodegradable paper and a donation of its profits towards environmental causes are some of the sustainable pledges that make up EISA Tea co.
With an established tea blog and over 350 different teas sampled between them, Amy and Emily entered EISA Tea co. into Aberystwyth University’s annual InvEnterPrize competition, which was organised by the university’s Careers Service and supported Big Ideas Wales.
To help the students develop their entrepreneurial mind-set, Emily and Amy were assigned a Big Ideas Wales business advisor, Julie Morgan, who provided the students with advice in writing a business plan, financial forecasting, marketing and business development.
Alongside this one-to-one support from Big Ideas Wales, as runners-up in the competition, Amy and Emily secured a year’s free office space at the Aberystwyth Innovation & Enterprise Campus in order to develop EISA Tea co. further.
Speaking about the support they’ve received, Emily said: “Both the university and Big Ideas Wales have offered us incredible support at the start of our business journey. Having the chance to speak to likeminded entrepreneurs in Big Ideas Wales’ Role Models has meant we’ve had the free advice off successful businesspeople who have been in exactly the same position to us now. Knowing Big Ideas Wales are at the end of a phone is very reassuring as we develop our business.”
In the long term, the businesswomen have their sights on being market leaders in sustainably grown premium teas and hope to visit tea farms in Asia to develop more personal relationships with farmers.
Julie Morgan, Big Ideas Wales business advisor, said: “It’s fantastic to see how Emily and Amy have managed to turn their passion into a genuine business with ethical approaches. They have a strong brand that is focused and committed to sustainability. Combining this with their natural business acumen, I have high hopes for the duo and look forward to seeing EISA Tea co. grow into a successful business.”
Tony Orme, Careers Consultant at Aberystwyth University, said: “It’s great to see these students turn something they love into an enterprise, applying the skills they’ve learnt with the university and during the InvEnterPrize competition to develop a solid business. Emily and Amy have been able to turn this challenging year for so many businesses into a new beginning for their own.”