What happens when you combine fresh ginger juice, Fair Trade tea, and sincere devotion to social change? Bhakti Chai. Here’s why this Boulder, Colorado-based B-corporation is on fire.
Brook Eddy, founder of Bhakti Chai, in Boulder, Colo., offers an inside look at how she grew her business from her home kitchen to a respected retail and food service brand. Eddy is currently working to secure national distribution. See how Bhakti and brands like it contribute to the U.S. economy and stack up to small businesses in other countries.
Sorry, Regular Tea, I’m just not that into you. You can tempt me with your gorgeous packaging and your delicate scent, but you just don’t bring the right texture and mouthfeel to the table…Bhakti Chai…Now this was Tea with a capital B! Not only is Bhakti Chai worthy of an invitation home for the holidays, it inspires soft purrs and heart-warming joy. On certain days you may even recall the line “I’ll have what she’s having” from When Harry Met Sally. And I’m not alone in my devotion-bordering-on-obsession. For thousands of loyal fans, Bhakti Chai has become part of who we are. And this, my friends, is the key to brilliant and successful brands. Read more…
The desert heat beams down upon your shoulders in a blaze of loving fury, you have danced and laughed and done yoga, spent an afternoon singing devotional hymns of kirtan, on your lips in your mouth the evidence… suddenly there it beams zeeee – an aura of gold, blue and red flashes calling you in…mouthwatering you follow the bliss to the goddess in the tent, and there in her hand.. The evidence… that you are not in fact dreaming this up…there in her hands is a spicy euphoric wonderland. Without another thought you reach for it, and hand her the few dollars which you question…could something this amazing be this available? But before anyone can change their mind or the mirage disappears, you have indulged. You have taken the sweet and savory sips of the Chai of the Bhakti Chai and your thirst has been quenched, you now understand devotion.
These three tea brands walk the talk by making giving back part of their core missions. For these businesses, it’s not just about selling tea but also about positively touching people’s lives and building a better future.
Brook Eddy, the founder of Boulder’s Bhakti Chai, has had her eye on Expo West for a while, but waited until this year to pull the trigger.
“I think we could’ve gone out (in past years), but it just felt a little premature,” she said. “We didn’t have something that was widely distributed … I just wanted to be able to have more things in line.”
Now that Bhakti Chai has launched its ready-to-drink concentrated chai and grown its distribution, Eddy knew that this year would be the time to go. Expo West, she said, could be the launching pad her brand needs.
Brook Eddy went to India looking for inspiration. She got it, just in a different way than she expected. In India, Eddy fell in love with chai – spicy, sweetened tea served with milk – and today her Colorado-based Bhakti Chai is approaching $2 million in sales and Bon Appetit magazine namechecked Bhakti in naming Boulder America’s Foodiest Town in 2010. The path to tea mogul was challenging and unexpected.
From being made on a stove at her home in Nederland, to making 500,000 gallons a year, it’s all happened in just 5 years. Bhakti Chai has seen revenues double annually, and now they are projecting 6-million dollars in revenue this year. They order ingredients from all over the world – ginger from Peru, tea from India, spices from everywhere – and then brew & bottle their Chai products in Longmont.
In only her second year of business, Eddy began donating money to nonprofit organizations that empower and educate women. In 2010, Bhakti, which uses sustainable packaging as well as organic and fair- trade ingredients, contributed $23,000 to nonprofits. This year, Eddy plans to give back 15% of income to charitable organizations.
Tax breaks for angel investors have cropped up in recent years in about two dozen states as a means of stimulating job growth. But the effectiveness of the incentives-which range from breaks on 15% of funding in Colorado to 100% in Hawaii-are coming under greater scrutiny, particularly as states face budget pressure.