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. Soin my business’s infancy, I signed up for the Tea Business Bootcamp at theWorld Tea Expo in Las Vegas. It was only 4 hours’ drive from my home and anaffordable 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 fromNew 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 hailingfrom Kenya with ties to a tea plantation, and finally a women from India whoschooled us all at the table in the correct pronunciation of the famous Indiantea growing regions.
That day-long course and the subsequent week of conferencesessions and exhibit floor time was invaluable for my business I would open thedoors to only eight months later. I found my tea suppliers, I discovered newtea 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 eagerlypurchased my pass to the World Tea Expo 2018. This year was different. I hadreal problems I was trying to solve. I was seeking the small tea business guruswho would have the answers as to why my tea business wasn’t taking off, as Ihad 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 andeasily executable tactics.
I returned home with a full notebook but even more valuablewere new connections with veterans who had been in my shoes before. Theysincerely wanted me and my business to succeed, a theme that would be echoed inthe subsequent year and offered up time to discuss one on one my struggles andpain points. As a result, I made changes to my business that continue to thisday 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, ifonly symbolically. I always intended to franchise my tea house business and thisyear I debuted my intention in the New Business Launchpad section of theexhibit floor. Whether or not I met a future franchisee, I found the warmembrace and comradery once again of the world tea community. I took in eventslike the World Tea Awards and the networking hours that I had been too unsureof myself in the past to attend. There, the tea business and communitylandscape opened up to me a little more, enough for me to want to keepventuring deeper. To taste, see, and experience tea and tea culture in waysthat are accessible in America.
As it has every year, the World Tea Expo stoked my passionto keep driving toward my business’s mission of spreading true tea and teaculture 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 mybusiness and my growth as a passionate tea lover. I do not know what this yearwill bring for my business; but I know I have the support and resources of theworld tea community at my fingertips to help me along the way. This year willunfold in beautiful and unexpected ways; may we all reconvene in Denver to onceagain share our stories and harmonize our love for tea.