My journey in tea began 5 years ago in Hawaii when I first started working for Ito En (USA) as a QA supervisor. Here I learned how awesome tea is and was finally content with my career as a food scientist. For once I was helping an industry that produces a product that is healthy for our bodies, communities, and environment. I left Ito En to do a second Peace Corps assignment in the Caribbean and upon my return to Hawaii I studied for a Japanese MBA. At the University of Hawaii I co-authored a market feasibility study for the young Hawaii Grown Tea industry. My team identified a great potential for US- grown tea and saw that Hawaii is at an advantage because of it’s prime soil and conditions for growing and producing tea. At the end of my school program I completed a 4-month internship at Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantations with the International Tea Farms Alliance (ITFA). Here I became a Global Tea Ambassador and have since connected deeply with tea growers in India, Indonesia, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Sri Lanka.
ITFA has a mission to connect tea grower with tea lovers. I have assumed this mission since I’ve returned to Hawaii and started building Tealet. Tealet is a marketplace that allows seamless and transparent commerce between tea growers, tea lovers, and tea retailers. This company has taken me around the world and have introduced me to many incredible people such as Kevin Rose, James Norwood Pratt, and leaders within the industry. This company is not the traditional corporation, we are a social enterprise and will be built by a community. It’s a company built upon technology and community which is why much of our development has occurred on Facebook and Twitter. If you love tea and are interested in joining our community please connect.
Tea Lovers – Browse, Buy, and Rate teas in our retail marketplace
Tea Retailers – Interested in sourcing tea direct from the farm online? We are soon launching a wholesale marketplace, Sign up to be notified when it’s ready!
What I ask of the tea world: Please connect with me! I can’t do this alone and there are those with much more experience and knowledge that can give me and my team guidance. Tea growers, please let me know if you would like my team to document your stories and help you sell tea online. Retailers, let us know what your customers want and how we can connect you with the best sources of tea. Tea lovers, join my journey as we help revive tea culture around the world!
I don’t know about you, but I am feeling some incredible energy going into the next year. It’s positive, it’s urgent, it’s creative, and most importantly it is going to cause people to become more entrepreneurial and risk taking. We feel that we can take on our own responsibility for our welfare and find ways to connect with others to collaboratively find solutions. We are all connected through social networks and want to do something to make it a better world. Watch out for big things in 2012!
On this same token, I have recently been inspired by something called the Leap Year Project. I discovered it through my TED and twitter engagement. Victor Saad sees a vision of telling the stories of risks that people will take in 2012 as it is a Leap Year. He is currently trying to get people on board to share and inspire others to take risk and make it happen in 2012, there’s no better time. I look forward to contributing my story as I take the risk of starting a business and social movement of collaboration. Should be exciting! To stay connected with my project sign up on this email list.
On September 30, 2011 a large group of disgruntled citizens identifying themselves as Occupy Wall Street released their first document as a united interest group demanding accountability on Wall Street. This message has resonated with thousands of other individuals and communities causing protests in cities across the U.S. Hawaii has even experienced its own protests in Honolulu, Kauai, and Hilo. Identifying with the concerns of the original Occupy Wall Street movement Hawaii residents are forming their own interest group looking for social change. The Occupation movement, like any young interest group, is facing a number of conflicts. These conflicts are both external and internal and must be resolved in order for this social change to occur. The external conflict exists between the so-called 99% of Americans struggling to maintain a livelihood and the 1% that possesses 42% of the nation’s wealth. (DeGraw, 2010) As the protests continue to grow conflict will also grow. This is because of an internal conflict that is ultimately inhibiting the opportunity for collaboration and sustainable change. The internal conflict involves the various grievances that each of the protesters bring and their inability to focus on solutions and not blame. The foundation of this conflict is cultural as the protesters bring their grievances of the consequences they face because of the unbalanced distribution of wealth. These consequences are associated with the communities, occupations, education levels, income levels, and social status that make up the cultures with which they identify. In order to overcome this obstacle protesters must use this opportunity to find commonality among this 99% of the population and collaboratively come up with solutions.
Aloha collaborators! With my MBA classes at the Shidler College of Business complete I am looking towards bringing together all my experience and knowledge to finally walk the walk after talking so much talk. In a few weeks (Jan. 1) I will be journeying to Japan for five months to work with specialty tea farmers in Kyoto prefecture. I hope to learn a lot while on this trip and bring this knowledge back home to encourage farmers in Hawai‘i to diversify into profitable opportunities like specialty tea.
This past summer I worked with a team on a Market Feasibility Study for tea in Hawai‘i and found, surprisingly, that there is an incredible opportunity. My team has decided to develop a consulting company that can facilitate the relationships that can make this industry develop. It’s going to require a lot of work, but we believe that if we can develop trust-building relationships with all the players something wonderful can happen.
Our business is going to be highly interactive with engaged social networks. These networks are going to consist of people and organizations from research, farming, processing, distribution, retailing, trade organizations, and consumers. Our business is also built on the foundation of collaboration in which we find ways to develop the industry so everyone has something equal to contribute and benefit. The idea may seem novel, but we are confident that it is going to stick and could have the potential to transfer to other diversified agriculture opportunities and industries.
If you are interested in following the development of our company or are interested in Hawai‘i Grown Tea, food self-sufficiency, collaboration, or entrepreneurship we highly encourage you to join our mail list. Soon we will be launching our website, blog, and social networks. The email list will be the best way to stay informed. Subscribe to our mail list.
http://ow.ly/7PjPi via @hawaii
VIDEO: Excited to have been a part of Honolulu’s 1st #citycampHNL, a collaborative way to find solutions
My TEDxHonolulu talk is ready for viewing, get some Pure Aloha to close out this wonderful Thanksgiving Day!