Moving Forward

Building out: April 2012

Building out: April 2012

Opening a retail tea store has been a dream of my husband’s and mine since the late 1990s. A New Leaf began as an assignment to prepare a marketing business plan for an MBA class I took at Hofstra University (I got an A). We waited quite some time until [what we thought was] the best time and then jumped in feet first. Living locally, we honestly believed that Seventh Street was the location in which we wanted to open our first store. Once a site opened up, I got up my nerve to leave a 24-year career to start my own retail business. At the age of 42, I showed my three beautiful daughters not to be afraid, to follow their dreams, and to take a chance. You only get to do this once – live life.

Clearly as a result of our customers’ loyalty, and the great growth of our online presence, A New Leaf has recognized double-digit growth nearly every month of its operation. However, after nearly three years on Seventh Street, A New Leaf has plans to relocate to new retail space this fall.

Reading The New York Times

Reading The New York Times

The decision to relocate is not related to lack of growth. As a result of creative marketing efforts, loyal customers, and fantastic publicity, A New Leaf has grown to happily serve the niche tea market in Nassau County. A New Leaf has a heavy social media presence (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, WordPress, LinkedIn) as well as an ecommerce Web site. Additionally, in just over two years’ time, A New Leaf has been written about in The New York Times, Newsday (twice), Long Island Woman, Long Island Pulse, the Malverne-West Hempstead Herald, and was used as a location to film the season premiere of “Long Island Medium.” Impressive for a “three-years-young” small business.

Life IS Good!

Life IS Good!

Fighting the battle of a fast-moving society also turned out to be quite the challenge. Tea has a lot to do with being mindful. “Tea time” is a time for relaxation and peace. For centuries, the tea ceremony has been one of reflection, meditation and simply “being.” In today’s society, no one stops. Very few people relax for extended periods of time to just “be.” Trying to encourage people to slow down and relax is a challenge not easily fought by one person/business in a community where most people are running to work or running to do errands, or running to schools to pick up children. If I could fight the battle alone, I would.

I am grateful to those customers that believe in me, the store, the tea, and the business model. For those customers that thought A New Leaf wouldn’t make it (and especially to those who told me I wouldn’t make it, for one reason or another), I challenge you to patronize a small business today and find one nice thing to say to the owner. Perhaps you can thank them for boosting the economy. Thank them for employing people (A New Leaf employed six local college students). Thank them for trusting in your community to believe that it was strong enough to allow them to follow their dream. Tell them how beautiful their store is. Tell them how helpful their staff is. Find something nice to say to brighten their day. Rather than express an opinion on what you would do if you were in their shoes (especially if you’ve never been in their shoes), perhaps simply take a moment to thank them for their effort in the small-business sector, and give them words of encouragement for believing in your local economy. Trust me; they will appreciate it. Those truly are the moments that can help someone get by.

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Store design

A New Leaf has received so many great compliments over the course of the three years we’ve worked on designing, building, and operating the store. From the layout of our space, to the courtesy and knowledge of our six wonderful staff, right down to the calming atmosphere – compliments came frequently, and nothing pleases a business owner more. I lost count on how many times I was asked if A New Leaf was a franchise – we spared no expense on making this, our first location, the most appealing and relaxing spot we could think of.

A New Leaf also received its share of advice from customers. From, “You should serve food,” to “You’ll never make it because you don’t sell pancakes,” we’ve heard it all. It is my firm belief that Seventh Street is predominantly food-oriented. This is very challenging for a retail business. Through no fault of its own, this local community craves more eateries. In order to preserve the original plan for A New Leaf and to hold true to my business model, A New Leaf did not enter into the restaurant or food business. There are plenty of other people who could do that a lot better than me, and who would love the opportunity to do so.

Tea with Seniors

Tea with Seniors

A New Leaf is proud to have provided Garden City High School with tea for three “Tea With Seniors,” events since 2013. We’ve donated to wonderful charities, non-profits, and causes when we were able. We’ve helped people sleep better, cleanse their bodies, and start their mornings with tea. We’ve provided tea-tasting classes, had guest speakers and converted “coffee-only” drinkers. We’ve helped provide relief from colds, allergies, insomnia, and the occasional not-so-common illness. I’ve spoken at events and lectures, all in the interest of tea.

10628438_791923067497838_372141737129996260_nHow wonderful it is! I beat the odds; I am very proud of the 33 months that I worked tirelessly both in the store and at home to share my love of tea with all of you. What I am most proud of, however, is that I was able to do something that very few people could say that they did. I followed my dream. I took a chance. How many people will look back at their lives and say, “I’m so happy I did that?” Not many. Most will say, “I wish I did that;” but not me. I have no regrets. What a life lesson I learned and what an example I set for my three daughters: take a chance; what do you have to lose? Money? You can always make more money. But you can’t get back time or an opportunity. What do you have to lose? Whatever happens, you’ll have a great story to tell.

I look forward to my next location, and details will be disclosed soon.

As of August 1, our inventory will be available online from ANewLeafTeaCo.com, and we will continue to restock our most popular teas.

Any questions and/or comments to this open letter can be directed to me at info@anewleafteaco.com.

Good luck to all of you! A New Leaf looks forward to serving you online at www.ANewLeafTeaCo.com.

Kimberly Orlic

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Tea in Croatia: Kuća Čaja

Just outside the ancient walls of Diocletian’s Palace (built in 305 AD) on Ulica kralja Tomislava in Split, Croatia is the charming loose leaf tea shop, Kuća Čaja (House of Tea). Stop inside, and you’ll be amazed at all of the fine loose-leaf teas housed in the cozy shop. With over 100 teas stored in aluminum tins behind the counter, Kuća Čaja also has other specialty blends with flavors like, “New York Cheesecake” and “Angel’s Tongue.”  Glass shelves in the customer area are stocked with beautiful, delicate porcelain tea pots and cups, matcha wares, whisks, gift items, tea timers, and other tea accessories.

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Siniša Kaliterna, Mila Skoko, Kimberly Orlić and Ivan Orlić outside Kuća Čaja Split.

Siniša Kaliterna, the sales manager, and Mila Skoko were more than happy to speak with us about their growth in a place where coffee prevails. Siniša and the staff have been supplying Split, its tourists and the locals from the surrounding towns, with premium quality loose-leaf tea for the past four years.  When I asked Siniša why he decided to open a tea shop he explained that there was nothing like it in Split and he understood that it was a huge gamble.  He explained, “Here, our culture is very focused on cafés and wine. Friends meet for coffee or a drink; people would often associate tea with something you drink when you don’t feel well.”  The staff at Kuća Čaja have noticed a change since they opened.  There is a growing interest in tea and the many heath benefits from drinking tea.  “Also, people are beginning to explore the many favors of tea while appreciating their subtle differences.”

While strong tourism brings in people from across the globe, while I was there, a local Croatian mother came in from Trogir, a town about 30 km away, because she heard of one of their teas which helped with a particular ailment she was experiencing.

The selection of teas at Kuća Čaja are selected from around the globe and include many masterful blends. There is also have a growing selection of local tisanes which include chamomile, lavender and sage.

Recognizing the enthusiasm for sharing her knowledge and love for the Camellia sinensis plant with her customers, Mila was happy to open container after container of tea for this Long Island, New York tea shop owner.  From fine Silver Needle white tea, a common Irish breakfast and a less common green Assam to distinct aromatic blends containing healthful ingredients such as sage, nettle, lavender, and calendula flower this duo certainly knew their teas.

Of course, I had the overwhelming urge to purchase 50g of every tea Kuća Čaja sold, but settled on a handful to bring back to New York:

  • Oasis of Senses: a Sencha (green tea) leaf with apple pieces, almond slices, lemon peel, coriander, pistachio, pink peppercorn and calendula petals.
  • Angel’s Tongue:a Pai Mu Tan (white tea) leaf with calendula petals, scented with bergamot and vanilla essence.
  • White Dragon: a blend of two exceptional white teas: Silver Needle and Mao Feng.
  • King of Pu-erh: a fermented dark tea produced in China with may health benefits, purportedly including cholesterol reduction, weight loss, and many antimicrobial properties.

It was certainly a pleasure to meet two individuals as enthusiastic about tea as me, and to learn about the growth of a startup to a comfortable place in the Croatian small business world. I’m already excited to go back next summer!

Be sure to visit Kuća Čaja‘s web page and like them on Facebook!

Hello from Croatia

While the heat is on back home in New York,  A New Leaf is in the wonderful hands of our staff.  We are on the Adriatic coast of Croatia visiting family and getting some rest and relaxation.

1014407_10201738019919083_1758831216_nThere’s no rest from tea! Vinisce is a tiny village not too far from Split, a beautiful city with a rich history. We took a trip into Split for a quick visit for tea. Kuča Čaja (translated to “tea house”) is a very quaint shop in the city center. I briefly spoke to the owner and was able to get some great King Pu-erh (dark tea) and a white blend of Silver Needle and Mao Feng, called White Dragon. We talked about how tea took some time to catch on in Croatia, and how they are getting the word out about the health benefits of tea. I’ll be headed back there early next week — look for an interview that I’ll publish here.

camomileBack to Vinisce. My husband’s teta (aunt) grows and dries her own camomile. Teta Franka was quite happy to send me home with some dried flowers, which I’m told to scatter the seeds in March to seed for early summer bloom. I’m very excited about that. Camomile is great for calming an upset stomach, promoting restful sleep, and relieving anxiety. It has sedative properties, so a small amount should be taken for anxiety, and larger amounts help promote sleep. Camomile has also been shown to relax muscles. Hence, camomile tea is often consumed to relieve abdominal and menstrual cramps. Pregnant women should avoid camomile as it can cause uterine contractions that potentially could result in a miscarriage.

21397_10201778298286017_2017147399_nOn our evening walk about town, lavender grows wild, poking through stone walls of the locals’ homes. What a pleasant aroma. Lavender is a great tea component, found in our Provence blend at A New Leaf. Lavender can also be steeped alone and is good for stress relief, headaches and insomnia.

Check back next week for more updates from Croatia.