Christine Snyder owns the Lia Leaf Tea House in Flagstaff, Arizona. She shares her perspective on her World Tea Expo experiences below.
Year One: Eyes Wide Open
I thought I knew tea, I knew I didn’t know tea business. So in my business’s infancy, I signed up for the Tea Business Bootcamp at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. It was only 4 hours’ drive from my home and an affordable toll to follow my dreams.
I found myself immersed in a truly international experience, everything you would expect, and maybe surprisingly more, from the expo’s name. At my table, only one of a dozen or so, sat an aspiring tea distributor from New Zealand, a women looking to open an English tea room in South Carolina, another women wanting to start a tea business in Colorado, a traveler hailing from Kenya with ties to a tea plantation, and finally a women from India who schooled us all at the table in the correct pronunciation of the famous Indian tea growing regions.
That day-long course and the subsequent week of conference sessions and exhibit floor time was invaluable for my business I would open the doors to only eight months later. I found my tea suppliers, I discovered new tea gadgets, and I got a glimpse into the world I longed to be a part of.
Year Two: Timid and Seeking the Answers
Only a few months after opening my business I eagerly purchased my pass to the World Tea Expo 2018. This year was different. I had real problems I was trying to solve. I was seeking the small tea business gurus who would have the answers as to why my tea business wasn’t taking off, as I had so confidently expected it to. My agenda was full of marketing, tea trends, and strategic online sales classes. I filled my notebook with helpful tips and easily executable tactics.
I returned home with a full notebook but even more valuable were new connections with veterans who had been in my shoes before. They sincerely wanted me and my business to succeed, a theme that would be echoed in the subsequent year and offered up time to discuss one on one my struggles and pain points. As a result, I made changes to my business that continue to this day and I know are part of its growth towards success.
Year Three: Intentions of Growth
This year’s expo was a turning point for my business, if only symbolically. I always intended to franchise my tea house business and this year I debuted my intention in the New Business Launchpad section of the exhibit floor. Whether or not I met a future franchisee, I found the warm embrace and comradery once again of the world tea community. I took in events like the World Tea Awards and the networking hours that I had been too unsure of myself in the past to attend. There, the tea business and community landscape opened up to me a little more, enough for me to want to keep venturing deeper. To taste, see, and experience tea and tea culture in ways that are accessible in America.
As it has every year, the World Tea Expo stoked my passion to keep driving toward my business’s mission of spreading true tea and tea culture in America. I believe we are on the cusp of that reality.
Here’s to the Future:
The World Tea Expo has become an integral part of my business and my growth as a passionate tea lover. I do not know what this year will bring for my business; but I know I have the support and resources of the world tea community at my fingertips to help me along the way. This year will unfold in beautiful and unexpected ways; may we all reconvene in Denver to once again share our stories and harmonize our love for tea.