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.


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, 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

Good luck to all of you! A New Leaf looks forward to serving you online at

Kimberly Orlic



It’s our Two-year Anniversary!

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take …”

My story

Celebrating Two Retail Years

Celebrating Two Retail Years

Over 18 years ago, at the tender age of 25, I developed the marketing plan for a tea shop while earning my MBA. Three children later, I completed my degree and continued my full-time career in higher education. Upon turning 40, I started to become discontent in my 20-year career. I decided to dust off that marketing plan and, with the help of my husband, created a full-blown business plan. I took one of the biggest gambles in my life and left my career to follow my dream of owning a tea shop. Many people thought I was crazy and I often hear(d), “I could never do what you did.”

Being a small-business owner is a great feat. Every day is a challenge in strength and perseverance. Oftentimes (and certainly in the case of A New Leaf), you wear many different hats. Not only are you the go-to person, you’re also the marketing executive, accountant, salesperson, IT technician, decorator, cleaner. But in my case, I’m also still a wife and a mother. Learning to balance all of it is very challenging and more difficult than running the day-to-day. I could never be where I am today without the help and support of my wonderful husband and three beautiful daughters. I look back at everyone that told me that they could never do what I did and hope they see that risk can pay off — but with the combination of hard work and a great support system.

Looking back on two years: sure, there are things I would have done differently, but learning is part of life. I encourage everyone: do something that scares you, and take those chances before you regret the fact that you didn’t take them at at all. Thank you to everyone who has made A New Leaf a success; even to the doubters: I couldn’t have done it without any of you.


Reflecting on the Past Year … and a Look Ahead

Wow, time has surely flown by! It’s hard to believe that this Sunday is the official one-year anniversary of my opening A New Leaf. I’d like to take a walk down memory lane and then a look ahead.


Looking Back: One Year Anniversary of A New Leaf

I have been a tea drinker my whole life. My earliest memory of tea is sitting with my grandmother, and listening to her clinking her spoon against the side of her teacup to stir in her milk and sugar. Years passed and I developed a love for tea. I went off to college, met the man who became my husband, and learned that he was also a tea drinker. We married, travelled, and deeply expanded our tea horizons. It was in graduate school, while taking a marketing class with the marketing genius Dr. Joel Evans, that I had to develop a business marketing plan from scratch. It was then, back in the late 90s that the business plan developed.

“A tea shop? Why tea?” was Dr. Evans’ question to me.

“Why not? There are few places like it here in the U.S. … and I happen to love tea,” was my candid response.

I did alright in my marketing class, received my MBA in business computer information systems, and then sat that marketing plan on a shelf for many years while I continued my career in higher education and raised three daughters. The business plan came back out in 2009, was honed and expanded, the business was named, and the LLC formed. Just in case.

My daughters were now a bit older, in high school, middle school, and elementary school … growing up quickly. I had recently hit the big 4-0. I was comfortable in my job, enjoying what I did, but after 20+ years at it, something was missing. My husband had found the vacant storefront on Seventh Street in Garden City and asked if I would want to open up my tea store. Terrified, I spent many sleepless nights pondering my decision and after a few grueling weeks, finally decided to take a very big risk and a very tough economy and become an entrepreneur. As the mother of three very strong-willed daughters, I was determined to show them to follow their dreams, to believe in themselves, and never have any regrets.

We found a great architect and a conscientious contractor, and after approval from the Village, opened six months after signing our lease.

A New Leaf Ribbon Cutting Celebration

A New Leaf Ribbon Cutting Celebration

We have made a great start here in Garden City. New businesses are difficult, and I’ve had more sleepless nights being a small-business owner than I did when I brought each of my babies home from the hospital. Every day is a challenge in one way or another. But, it’s a lot easier when you have people who believe in you. I couldn’t have done anything without my wonderful husband, and my three beautiful kids. My husband is sure to remind me every day how what I’ve created has inspired many, and that I’ve done the most important thing and become an inspiration for our three children.

Since our opening on September 15, 2012 A New Leaf has done some exciting things, but the best of all is that we’ve brought the awareness of tea into a coffee-infused area. I managed to hire some great, tea-loving staff and get compliments about their pleasantness and knowledge every day (how great is that?!) We’ve switched up our tea offerings seasonally and now offer over 75 different teas that we can steep on site, hot or iced.

We’ve started to build a great community of clients, and have branched out into off-site catering, corporate accounts, tea tastings, tea services, and other special events.

Looking ahead, A New Leaf is moving into new territory and has some exciting things planned for the upcoming fall and winter months:

  • Wine-inspired teas (now in stock)
  • Sweet-spicy chai (this week)
  • Scheduled tea education classes (e.g., tea basics, tea discovery classes) beginning in November
  • Tea-of-the-month club (in time for December)
  • New inventory of porcelain teapots (September) and stainless steel tea kettles (October)
  • Extended winter hours on Friday and Saturday evenings beginning in October
  • Guest speakers
  • Social events (e.g., book club hostings)
  • Entertainment

One year has certainly flown by. We’ve gotten our feet wet, and we’re looking forward to continuing to build our customer base and help spread our love of tea to the Garden City area and beyond. If you’re in the area, make sure you stop by and say hello and sample some of our free teas this weekend (9/13-15).

From Our Family to Yours

Thank You … From My Family to Yours

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.


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!