Pandemic Stories: Grounded Tea
By: Angela Hayward & Kelsey Woods
2020 was a hard year — most people will look back on it and say that it was memorable, but it definitely wasn’t the best time of their life. In fact, many people won’t look back on it in a positive light at all. Truth be told, I started my tea company out of a lifelong love of travel and experiencing new things, both of which were taken away this past year.
Grounded Tea was built on my love for exploring the globe far and wide, connecting with people and cultures, and regularly stepping out of my comfort zone. This was something I had to continually remind myself of this year as the pandemic restricted us and changed the way we did business.
I discovered early on that my purpose in life was to connect Canadians with a daily ritual that made them feel good. Combining my love for tea, travel and people, I launched into entrepreneurship head-on and founded a tea company that encourages people to sit in front of their mug each day and connect with themselves, a practice so common in many other cultures. I saw this as a way to bring so much of what I loved about being abroad back home to my roots, uniting people and cultures across oceans with a simple daily ritual.
In addition to travelling the world, being an entrepreneur has allowed me many freedoms in life. I have the flexibility to pick my children up from school and never miss a recital. I am my own boss, so I am in charge of balancing motherhood and my creative outlet. I never imagined that owning a business would have so many ups and downs, just as everything worthwhile tends to have.
When I look back over last year, I could say that it was terrible.
I could say that Grounded Tea almost didn’t survive.
I could also say that it was the best thing that ever happened to us at Grounded Tea.
Before the pandemic, I ran a dependable business model built on servicing restaurants and cafes. But my business came to a grinding halt when regulations closed these same businesses without warning. In the middle of my second maternity leave, watching my company bank account dwindle to almost zero, I thought to myself “This is it. This is my tipping point.” I could either let the company go under due to external forces beyond my control, or I could gather all of my energy and attack this new obstacle with everything I had. I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? Does Grounded Tea really matter?”
And my answer was simple: it isn’t about what we are, it’s about who we are.
I love everything that Grounded Tea stands for because I built it from the ground up. We plant trees because they create farms, which then create food security and businesses for families on the brink of survival. We blend holistic tea to help people live happier, healthier lives by combating stress and maintaining overall health. It’s not about making a buck; it’s about making a difference.
If you’re wondering how a simple cup of tea can fulfill someone, let me tell you. With every warm sip, I feel a deep sense of peace as my worries slip away and I’m transported to another world. For me, there’s nothing I look forward to more in my day — I’m more in the moment than any other time. A simple daily ritual focused on health and internal wellbeing which keeps me sane amidst the chaos.
Throughout the pandemic, it would have been easy to focus on the negative (and trust me, sometimes I did). However, with the pause in my sales, I was able to sit back and observe all the amazing positive interactions happening around me:
- I saw business owners, Calgarians and fellow Canadians rally together and support each other.
- I saw the #BuyLocal movement spring to life here in the city and across the globe.
- I saw local non-profits get government funding to help finance women-owned businesses because they know the value and role that women play in business and entrepreneurship.
- I saw community rise together as I had never seen before.
This time of pause, which could have so easily been viewed as our downfall, allowed me to re-evaluate why Grounded Tea exists and what our purpose is. Because I saw this vision so clearly and truly feel that we are here to impact and better human lives, I built up the courage and seized the opportunity to level up my business and elevate our role in the marketplace.
For all of you who are still struggling, still fighting, still debating if it’s worth it to keep going, here’s the hard truth:
In 2020, we had $400 left in our bank account and this made me question everything. Thanks to our absolutely incredible network of small business owners here in Calgary and loyal customers across the country, we stayed afloat and entered 2021 stronger and more aligned than ever.
We know this isn’t the case for many businesses, and we are so grateful for our fortune and foresight to persevere. Sometimes we need to know the darkness so we can appreciate the light.
To our partners,
Our local business community, and
Our loyal friends, family and dedicated customers,
Thank you for choosing to buy locally-blended, ethically imported fair-trade teas — for yourself and others.
We couldn’t have done it without you.
Grounded Tea is a grassroots, Calgary-based company whose sole purpose is to help people live better lives.
“Do you want to share your pandemic experience? Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.”