The key “business ingredients” need to be available and our successful business model can be explained, in our opinion, through an analogy using the fire triangle. A fire needs a source of heat, a fuel to ignite and oxygen to enable the fire to “breathe”. Without one element of the triangle, there would be no fire. Or in our case, no viable business.

Fuel = The niche or gap

There needs to a gap in the market driven by consumer demand
which will fuel sales. This is the reason for existing! Cumbrian Tea came to being, initially, due to me having the realisation that there was no tea (or coffee) brand totally synonymous with, or to, the county of Cumbria. Such as the likes of Yorkshire has.

It doesn’t matter how you come to understand the gap, for us, it was a bit of a punt: Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world after water and there wasn’t a regional tea brand. Whereas in other counties, there was. These businesses seemed to be doing ok, so why could we not do it in Cumbria? Well, we’re trying and it seems to be working.

Heat = The product

Getting the product (or products) right is key. However, it may not be 100% perfect first time round. James Dyson refined his vacuum design hundreds if not thousands of times before he was happy to market products for sale.

For us, we needed our tea and packaging to be as close to 100% perfect as possible, because with tea (and the fact that we’re a small business), you might not get a second chance.

So, we considered the following:

Product taste and sourcing: Our tea had to taste great otherwise it would just be considered gimmicky, which isn’t what we’re about. Our products also have to be in line with our core values; so sustainably and ethically sourced. Whether being complimented by water from The Lakes or not, the leaves also had to be versatile enough to taste great, whereever they end up being used for a tasty brew.

Current/Up to Date: News was starting to bubble away in the media about the presence of plastic in tea bags. We didn’t want to hit the ground running “up the curve”, so we wanted plastic-free tea bags to home our lovely tea leaves in, bringing our tea as up to date as possible in the current climate.

Packaging: The great tasting tea and plastic-free tea bags needed to be housed in eye catching, enticing, but also sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly packaging. There’s no point, in our opinion, having plastic free tea bags, if your boxes are wrapped in plastic that isn’t recyclable or takes thousands of years to biodegrade. The wording on the packaging “pops” and hits you in the face, within a second you know exactly where the product is from, and what it is…it’s fun too!

Relatable and relevant to the area: Tea leaves don’t grow, commercially, in Cumbria. So, we needed our brand and brand products to be synonymous with the area in a slightly different way, hence our social impact strategy (and me being local).

We also don’t manufacture in Cumbria, yet, but are proving the concept of our products initially with the view of bringing a manufacturing facility to West Cumbria, in the near future.

Naming the “trading as” (T/A) brand name needs to be right, as does the brand naming in entirety, otherwise – like some of the other few companies in the county offering similar wares – you miss the “trick” and will fail to plug the gap in the market.

Oxygen = The Enabler

So, we got lucky. Incredibly lucky. We were a little bit cheeky in our approach but wanted to stand out. We were also lucky to have found one of very few people who had a very similar mindset and core values, together with a want and desire to go into business, and the ability (the manufacturing facility) to do so. I’m also rather spiritual, and believe in fate.

In Summary

All three of the above will arrive through a moment, an epiphany, then come together through a desire, fuelled by inspiration or aspiration, to succeed. This is the hunger I alluded to earlier: You have to be totally bought-in to your business and product(s). You have to believe they are the best they possibly can be: the best on the market. Now you have to take that energy and tell the world!

We combined a holistic, referable and recognisable county brand; very appealing branding/packaging; a great quality product and an up to date environmental, ethical and social ethos to launch Cumbrian Tea into the world. We wanted people to see our products, instantly know where it was from then look a bit deeper to understand us, our ethics, what we’re all about and why. And, not to mention, enjoy our tea!

Repeat sales and continued business development during difficult times (2 lockdowns in the first 6 months of trading) tells us were doing ok and are on track to become a sustainable business.

Everyone has an entrepreneur inside, you just need to be persistent – don’t let the naysayers put you off – trust your gut, and sometimes, it helps to be a little bit cheeky!

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