Q&A: FaithAnn Bailes Previews the World Tea Virtual Summit 2021

FaithAnn Bailes, content manager for Questex’s World Tea Virtual Summit and the World Tea Conference + Expo

Questex’s World Tea Virtual Summit is taking place March 15-16, 2021, and the digital engagement program will gather the global tea industry once again to explore opportunities, challenges and trends. The inaugural World Tea Virtual Summit took place in October 2020 and it attracted more than 2,000 registered attendees.

A Sneak Peek
To get a preview of the upcoming March event (details and registration will be available in early February 2021), we chat with FaithAnn Bailes, content manager for Questex’s World Tea Virtual Summit and the World Tea Conference + Expo.

Question: Hi, Faith. What’s the main goal of the World Tea Virtual Summit taking place in March?

Answer: The main goal of the World Tea Virtual Summit is to gather and engage the tea industry – both tea suppliers and retailers and other professionals in the industry and across vertical markets. By the time we get together again in March, it will have been a long break since our last digital meeting, as well as a long while since we all met in person. Of course, there have been so many challenges for businesses within the tea industry because of COVID-19; it’s changed the face of business for what has seemed like forever. And with all the new tea businesses emerging, we need to educate and share insights with each other. I know that we are all overwhelmed with webinars and digital meetings, but this event focuses specifically on the tea community and all the wonderful opportunities that we have before us. The next live event won’t be until July 14-16, 2021 in Denver, Colo. [the World Tea Conference + Expo], so it’s really important that we stay in touch with each other as much as possible. I don’t want anyone to feel that World Tea is not helping them stay informed and supported during the pandemic.

FaithAnn Bailes

Question: Last year’s summit attracted more than 2,000 virtual attendees, and many have since downloaded and watched the summit on-demand. What made the event a big success?

Answer: Tea people love to chat and we just can’t help ourselves. Give us a pot of tea and a cookie and we are in heaven. Some were surprised at how much action was happening in the chat section of the World Tea Virtual Summit last October – but I wasn’t. The tea industry thrives together as a community, and the last summit addressed that. When Sara Martinelli [of The Boulder Tea Company and Three Leaf Farm] told us of how she had to lay off so many employees, I almost cried. When Daniel Lewis of T By Daniel blew us away with his enthusiasm amidst challenging times, I was so proud of him standing his ground. The World Tea Virtual Summit happy hour in October was so delightful, as we all gathered and chatted with tea. Overall, the tea community is all about sharing and giving to one another, and that makes the summit so successful. It’s the people. And the one thing that I hope for with the next generation of tea professionals is even more of the same kindness that has been given to anyone new to the community. That kindness and the supportive nature of the community is what helps make the World Tea Virtual Summit a big success.

Question: What do you think are the most important issues in the tea industry right now, and how will some of those topics be covered at the summit in March?

Answer: Recovery and building stronger businesses is critical right now for the tea industry. Reinventing ourselves and learning to build powerful relationships that make us bullet proof. Staff training has always been an issue with business owners, especially in the food service arena, as employees are usually short-term and tend to move around frequently; this makes training a consent challenge. Babette Donaldson [owner and publisher of T Ching and founder of the International Tea Sippers Society] will address that problem with an affordable solution. Social media is always important and now it’s even more imperative that every business makes it part a big part of their strategy. Jamila McGill and Alfonso Wright [of Brooklyn Tea] will give some solid tips on how they have used social media to build their business into a thriving hub in New York, despite the pandemic. And “location, location, location” – it has been and always will be a challenge to find the right place and a good fit that will draw the public to your tea business. Emilie Jackson [Emilie's French Teas] found her perfect location and quenched her passion by co-locating. Every day I come across simple solutions and innovative ideas from within the tea industry, and my goal with the World Tea Virtual Summit is to gather tea leaders and creative minds to share insights to solve some of your biggest problems, so you can succeed.

Question: What trends are you paying close attention to, and will some of those trends be covered at the summit in March?

Answer: Trends are a funny thing, and with all the new entrepreneurs out there in the tea community, you never know what will peak everyone’s interest. It seems like RTDs [ready to drink] are still raging. And let us not forget the portable bottles for beverages. The one subject that I find keeps pairing up with the World Tea community is herbals. Think about it: Every tea company seems to get involved with herbals in some way. That's why I have asked Rob McCaleb [Herb Research Foundation] to join us at the upcoming summit to talk about what we need to know about using herbs, in relation to tea infusions, to build our immune system during this pandemic.

Question: What are you most excited about regarding the summit in March?

Answer: Tea Tycoons! I love hearing about new ideas and products, and the new Tea Tycoons program at the March 2021 World Tea Virtual Summit is going to be exciting! The work and effort that goes into developing new ideas and products is truly inspiring. It gives me energy and hope for the future of the industry. Seeing dreams come to fruition within the tea industry is always a thrill for me. Also, seeing new and returning faces makes me happy too, so I’m looking forward to that at during the summit. It almost seems like the World Tea Virtual Summit is one big party, and my birthday is March 19, so the summit can be a pre-party for me this year.

Question: Who needs to attend the World Tea Virtual Summit, and why is it a can’t miss event?

Answer: Anyone interested in tea or tea related products, whether you’re already in the tea industry or just considering a career in tea, or if you’re a part of a vertical market exploring tea, we welcome you. In general, any professional, entrepreneur or up-and-coming professional who is passionate about tea and eager to learn should attend. The summit is free to everyone to attend, and it’s packed with valuable information about tea, tea products and the business of tea. The chat section at the summit is a very busy place, and that makes for a lively conference. The speakers are very generous with information and follow up, and this is a way to meet new people across the industry or in various vertical markets. I find the summit to be a place of inspiration and a sense of community – you are not alone during this pandemic. We are a tea community and together we can grow and prosper.

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Info About the Summit
Registration, along with the full conference program, speakers and additional details, will be available in early February 2021at WorldTeaExpo.com/VirtualSummit.

To inquire about the World Tea Virtual Summit or to become a 2021 sponsor, contact the World Tea team at [email protected].

You can also watch the October 2020 World Tea Virtual Summit on-demand by clicking here.

Be sure to follow the March 2021 event on Twitter (@worldteamedia) and Facebook and Instagram (@worldteaexpo), or via #WorldTea2021.