Lauren Danson is the owner of Mizuba Tea Company. After hosting tea gatherings in college and visiting Japan, she was spurred toured a lifetime of seeking paired seasonal teas and fostered a dedication to studying Japanese tea cultivation, production, and culture. She loves how tea creates connectivity, culture, and community from source to cup.
[bctt tweet=”How to nurture a supportive community @mizubateaco #blissfulbitespodcast” username=”nicoleculver”]
In this episode you’ll learn:
- Your friends know what they’re talking about
- Sales strategy of being honest and patient
- Importance of picking up the phone
- How to nurture a supportive community
Tell us a little bit about you, Lauren Danson, and what you do.
I grow loving teas, and I love having tea parties. Mizuba started with my mother. In middle school, she would give me cups of Bigelow Constant Comment tea before breakfast every single morning, and it became the thing that I love. As I got older, I realized that there’s more to life than Bigelow. I started exploring different teas in high school, and I had the opportunity to travel a bit in high school. I didn’t know that I was doing it, but I was experiencing my memories and the way I viewed my travel through teas and the experiences I had with those teas that stood out to me the most. I ended up cultivating this hobby. I was collecting and studying tea. I went to college with this tea collection and this base of knowledge.
It wasn’t even until my sophomore year of college that I became more active in it. I got put into a dorm room that was really far away from my friends. I wondered,”What could I do to make my friends visit?” I started hosting pop up tea shops and parties in my dorm room twice a week. It became this thing where 20 people showed up to my floor and drank tea with me and all my friends started saying, “This is what you need to do with your life.” I was an English journalism major studying Charles Dickens. If that gives you an idea of my business background, my business was far removed from my mind. I told my friends, “Hey, that’s hilarious. I’m going to get a degree.”
After three years, I was still hosting tea parties and in my senior year of college, I had the chance to go to the Japan. I knew there going to be good teas there, but I was not going to seek tea. I was just visiting a friend and traveling around. To make the long story short, I ended up meeting a tea farmer. The relationships I made over those cups of tea was really the main reason why I am so into teas. Number one, the quality of tea blew my mind. It was 20 times better than anything I have experienced. Even tea in the grocery store was incredible. It was the relationship that I made that really stayed with me. I was just about to graduate, and I was going to publishing school that summer. I met that tea farmer and when I came home, we kept emailing each other. One day, the tea farmer asked me if I wanted to have samples, and that’s where it was started.
If you can think about what something your friends and family say to you all the time, that’s where a business idea can be born.
It took me three years to listen to my friends. This whole Mizuba tea company was not just me, it is also the people who surrounded me and who are very supportive, encouraging, and helpful to me despite of my own inhibitions. I was super blessed. My best friend in college was a business major and he was always the one who instructed me how to collaborate, how to trademark, and all those things.
What is your piece of advice to someone who is just starting out?
Be kind, be nice, and be patient. I say that because when you put yourself out there and you have a product to share, a lot of people will have questions. These people might be from bigger companies and they will come to you pretty aggressively. Just hear everybody out and be patient with their questions.
My other advice is to use the telephone. You can send emails and be patient with follow ups, but telephone is better.
- They have to answer your questions right away and vice versa.
- You can also tell the way they’re feeling. You build relationships and personally, I love talking to people in the other companies that I work with. I get excited to hear from them and when they feel that you are excited, they are going to get excited too.
What is your sales strategy?
People are smart. They can tell if people are trying to sell them something. If you share something genuine, people will relate to that. It’s honest. At the end of the day, you are communicating it and people would support that. You just have to be genuine and not trying to just sell and sell hard to core. Just be honest where you’re at. People resonate with that very well.
Do you have any entrepreneur friends that you meet up with?
Erika Welsh from Wild Friends is one of my best friends here. I look up to her quite a lot. There is a wealth of people in Portland. I am lucky to be in a community where there are so many different entrepreneurs. There is a rising tight society here with awesome women and tons of photographers, bakers, artists, and others. You realize you are not alone. When you get an awful email, you just take a breath and think that most of these entrepreneurs already have experienced this. Build a community too. You are just supporting each other and being enthusiastic about what each other was doing.
Lauren Danson knows tea. What she didn’t know was that the tea gatherings she hosted twice a week in college, the journeys abroad she spent collecting tea, or the countless cups she drank and loved to share would lead her to Japan, and ultimately, to a true vocation. Her experiences spurred Lauren toward a lifetime of seeking pure, seasonal teas, and fostered a dedication to studying Japanese tea cultivation, production, and culture.
And she wants to share how delicious Matcha is with you.