Today's profilee Angelina is generously sponsoring our afternoon tea at the Harvest Textiles event this coming Sunday. Read on to learn more about Ange and her exciting new business!
What is your professional or training background?
Strangely, my professional background is as a regulatory economist. I moved into economics because I wanted to get involved in foreign aid and development – I was (and still am) very interested in why peoples’ living standards vary so dramatically across the globe. Before that I was in marketing and communications, and worked for several non-profit organisations.
Apart from being an avid tea drinker and enthusiast from the age of four (which doesn’t count I know!), my formal tea training is still in its relative infancy. A few months ago I attended the ‘Tea Business Boot Camp’ at the World Tea Expo in the US, which was hosted by an impressive international line up of well-respected tea professionals. I’ve learnt a lot from others in the Australian industry also - they tend to be very passionate about tea and generous with their knowledge.
What do you make, create or do?
I source teas that I think people will love. There is such a depth and diversity in tea and I want to be able to bring that to people and get them looking at tea in a new way.
All of the aesthetic aspects of the branding are a vehicle for this. I wanted to create a look and feel that would reflect the values of the business: Tea&Sympathy is earthy but ‘urban’, authentic and individual. It’s about the raw product and respect for its origins. This is what I intend to bring to the future retail premises in Thornbury – the space exists but it needs a lot of work!
Tea&Sympathy is also an opportunity to create a business that embraces the values that I look for in other businesses – like honesty and integrity and being independent and local. At the retail end this means maintaining a personalised service. In terms of sourcing teas, my preference is very much for direct trading with small scale artisan tea farmers – this is important for many reasons, not only for the ‘traceability’ of the tea you drink, but also to understand how it is produced, by whom, and the social and environmental conditions in which that happens.
What other creative areas would you like to explore as a side-project to your current work, or move into full-time?
Starting Tea&Sympathy is the creative project that I have been hanging out to pursue after working in such a ‘left brain’ environment for so long. It’s about creating a business and a brand that will embody all things tea, and bring that to people in a way that captures their imaginations.
What skills do you have that help you run your business, or what skills would you like to develop?
I think running a small business really draws together all the skills acquired over the course of life thus far! I’ve worked in a variety of jobs and industries over the years so it will be a case of doing that under pressure. Becoming an effective retailer - understanding what your customers want and delivering on that is a totally new skill area that I feel I have a solid sense of but will need to further develop.
List five people, businesses or websites/blogs that keep you motivated and inspired, and why?
www.artoftea.com – I met Art Of Tea owner Steve Schwartz in the US. His is a great ‘garage start-up’ story. He’s also established a company that focuses on the creative side of tea, making custom signature blends for their clients.
www.camelliacha.com (aka Anne Norman) has built a career as a musician, performance artist and author travelling the countryside giving performances on ‘Tea’. Her book Curiosi-tea is a really fun, accessible way to learn all about tea.
www.facebook.com/maysiedaysie - May King Tsang is a super-energetic woman who has built a reputation as an expert tea speaker and has a unique way of connecting with the community through tea tasting and appreciation events.
www.kiva.org - a great way to help others with significantly less resources and human capital at their disposal to build successful businesses.
Wendy Whiteley – I recently visited Wendy’s Secret Garden in Lavender Bay, Sydney and was inspired by her creativity and initiative, and so grateful that she created this beautiful, sprawling public space that would have otherwise been sold and developed.
Contact Angelina via info/at/teaandsympathy.com.au
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