Marisa Lightfoot: Fair Trade Tea for the American Palate

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Name: Marisa Lightfoot

Business: The Virginia Tea Company

Location: Manassas, Virginia, U.S.

Industry: Food & Beverage

Reason for starting? Tea is the most common drink almost everywhere else in the world, except in America. My goal is to change that by educating and selling tea the way it should be. I had to do a lot of ground work in order to make my concept possible. This research included not only learning about Fair Trade and USDA organic standards, but learning as much as possible about herbs and the tea leaf itself, camellia sinensis. Living and working in Northern Virginia, I am well aware of how hardworking, driven and busy Americans are on a daily basis. Therefore, I don’t want them to have to do anymore research when deciding what tea they are going to drink. More specifically, I wanted to make their healthy herbal tea selection very simple to decide on. This is the basis behind the naming convention I chose. Most of the praise our company as received has been in relation to the herbal teas due to their delicious taste, which is a by-product of how we chose to blend those teas.

Related: Read about another woman-owned tea-focused business here. 

How do you define success? In my opinion, success is equivalent to happiness. For me, I like to put smiles on people faces, knowing that what I am giving them is cost efficient for them, better for the environment and world economy, and healthy. The ability to do all three of those in one simple sale is my driving factor for continuing to grow this company.

Biggest success: This is simple! My biggest success was reaching my goal on Kickstarter, because this is what helped get my company off the ground!

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Originally, I assumed that I would be a one-woman business for at least a year. However, the increasing demand in sales quickly proved otherwise. I had to hire folks to help me. I had never hired anyone before, and I did not know what to expect. Honestly, I know I got lucky. The employees I have hired so far are driven and want to help push my company to succeed. They are some of the best people around.

Related: All-Inclusive Hiring Tips for Entrepreneurs 

Who is your most important role model? When I was in high school, I was required to attend a speech at the local library. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the man’s name. However, I do remember what he spoke about because his words are what drive me to do what I do every day. He was one of those individuals who came from no money or family but was still able to make a name for himself and accomplish quite a lot in life. He had many successful businesses, all geared towards helping other people. He kept reiterating that as long as you do what you love and believe in, you will be rich in both money and happiness.

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Edited by The Story Exchange

Posted: March 16, 2017

Victoria FlexnerMarisa Lightfoot: Fair Trade Tea for the American Palate