In our Brand Story Hero series, we shine a regular spotlight on different brands that we think tell their story well. Here we take a look at Suki Tea, an ethically sourced tea company.
Brand: Suki Tea.
Product: Loose leaf teas, herbal infusions and fruit blend tea.
Founder: Anne Irwin and Oscar Woolley.
Year founded: 2005
Mission: “To grow the business in an adventurous, yet responsible and sustainable way that respects and values people, plant and the planet.”
Suki Tea is a Belfast Boutique Loose Leaf Tea Blender.
In 2005 business partners Anne Irwin and Oscar Woolley first set up the company. Admittedly they didn’t start off with a strong business plan. Theirs was “Tea, Fun, Money.”Although not set business plan they wanted to ensure they had a strong brand identity and kept true to their goals during their early years.
Their love of tea grew from their own travels. Having both wandered through Asia Anne and Oscar’s eyes were opened to the world of good ethically-sourced tea. Having found these gems, they wanted to share them with as many people possible.
Suki Tea launched with the aim to provide their customers with the finest loose leaf teas, herbal infusions and fruit blends from around the world.
Ethically sourced products fast became their priority. As was delivering quality and fresh products.
They started small. Their first excursion into the world of entrepreneurship and business was with a stand at a small Farmer’s Market in Belfast.
Following the success of this stall, they wanted to grow. They set about touring the island of Ireland visiting farmers marketing and craft fairs. They also began looking towards the music festival circuit to grow their brand. With the help of their friends, they started a ‘Tea & Toast’ set up at festivals around the country.
Today, the team remains Belfast based. They still use ethicaly sourced produce from all over the world.
They have grown in size and have won multiple awards for both produce and company.
Their storytelling lessons
Lesson #1 Offer your users an experience, not just a product
When you’re selling a product your interaction with your audience can be limited. They buy your product and leave your website. Your product becomes part of their daily routine and they most likely give it little thought, until they need to buy another.
Suki tea wants to be more. More than just a brand of tea people use a few times throughout the day but a brand that people use to make, gift and learn about tea.
On their website, Suki Tea sells tea and everything to go with it. From tea gift sets, such as ‘Make your own’ loose tea set to tea accessories such as teapots, cups and infusers. They even offer a monthly tea subscription service where users can receive a box of tea each month, trying and testing new flavours and combinations.
Suki Tea has positioned themselves as more than a traditional simple tea supplier. Instead, they are creating a global tea community.
Lesson #2 Show your journey
When a company launches new products they don’t just appear. For us, as users, we forget the journey that goes into a new product, from sourcing to experiments to packaging and more.
Suki Tea wants to remind us of that journey. This journey lets their audience see how they source their produce and also gives authenticity to their product.
Their aim is to help connect their tea drinkers with the people throughout the process.
From Darjeeling at the foot of Everest to Tanzania, Annie & Oscar and the rest of the team document their journeys, from crop to cup.
Lesson #3 Be proud of where you come from
Suki Tea is a company born and brewed in Belfast.
They are an Irish brand through and through and from a quick glance at their website, social media presence and produce you get a sense of their Belfast pride.
Suki Tea has partnered with one of Northern Ireland’s oldest and most recognisable brand, Bushmills Whiskey. Their involvement is part of the return of their #BlackBushStories series which celebrates those creators and inventors who challenge traditional thinking and live outside the box.
We are so excited to be collaborating with Bushmills Irish Whiskey for the return of #BlackBushStories which celebrates creators & inventors who challenge traditional thinking @BushmillsIRL find out more on the blog #sukitea https://t.co/yb0yAFyn7q
— Suki Tea (@SukiTea) April 15, 2019
Suki Tea has also paid homage to their home city in one of their best selling teas. The lovingly named “Belfast Brew” is a dominant tea in their range and is as they call it themselves “A Northern Irish Staple”.
Their storytelling tools
When you buy a tea from the Suki Tea website you know exactly what you’re purchasing.
Each tea on their website has its own separate page filled with all the information you need. From the origin and the journey of the tea to the ingredients and how Suki Tea themselves like to brew it.
Suki Tea gives its users and buyers the more information possible. They tell the story of each individual tea. This use of transparency creates trust in the brand.
Suki Tea also uses this method of transparency to build trust through their reviews on their website.
When you buy a product you see exactly where it has come from and what response it has gotten.
2) Be strong on social
View this post on Instagram
Spring is definitely in the air this morning🌤🌱so we have popped the kettle on and are enjoying a beautiful cup of First Flush Darjeeling, one of our triple certified, ethically sourced favourites 🌍#sukitea #firstflush #firstflushdarjeeling #darjeelingtea #fairtradetea #organictea #rainforestalliance #spring #spring tea #teatime #looseleaftea #microlot #singleestate 📸@mim_thetealady
In this day and age, every company needs to be on social media. It is how your audience connects with your brand.
Being on social media isn’t always enough. Creating and curating strong social feeds that have regular and interesting updates and posts is just as important. Suki Tea recognises this and has built a strong presence on the most common sites. They use these sites to build their presence, show their products and connect with their audience.
Their Instagram account is a great example of harnessing the power of a particular social media site and using its influence to build your brand. Instagram is all about creating a theme and uploading eye-catching photos. Suki Tea uploads beautiful images of their tea, their products and their journeys.
Their feed captures the essence of their brand and entices its audience into their brand.