In 2002 Brook Eddy traveled to India to study Bhakti, an ancient practice of devotion. The Boulder, Colorado-based entrepreneur developed a deep affection for her daily cups of chai tea, so much so, that when she returned to the United States she began experimenting with her own recipes. The ginger-spice mix that she ultimately concocted became a hit among friends and family and led to the development of her business, Bhakti, a fresh-pressed ginger-chai tea. Her products are sustainably sourced, organic and fair trade — and most importantly to Eddy, part of the profits go toward supporting organizations that empower women and girls. Through her foundation, GITA, Eddy hopes to help other smaller organizations like Hope Shines Summer Camp, Pure Water for The World and the Sacred Valley Project.
Eddy’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
While in India studying a movement based on Bhakti, or devotion, I fell in love with the unforgettable aroma and creamy comfort of homemade chai. As I shared cups of chai with numerous families along my journey, I sampled endless chai variations and was inspired by the intimacy and ritual of taking time to slow down and sip tea together. Upon returning home, I developed a recipe using fresh-pressed organic ginger and fiery spices from India to share my travels with friends so they could experience “India In A Cup.” When my recipe created a buzz, I decided to start a mission-driven company that would use sustainably sourced ingredients to make craft-brewed tea, the profits from which would support organizations that empower women and girls.
How do you define success?
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Tell us about your biggest success to date.
Hosting a free 400-person outside yoga event featuring musician Michael Franti to dance and move for peace and health, launching over 20 innovative beverages, and securing Whole Foods as a national partner.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Raising capital has been our biggest struggle as we scaled the business and went from $0 revenue, one employee, and one product to $7 million in revenue, 20 products and 30 employees.
[Related: She’s Bringing Science and Innovation to a Thousand Year Old Cooking Tradition]
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
I started Bhakti with $200 in my checking account and 2 year-old twins. I was in the trenches of growth, management, divorce, single parenting, raising capital, innovating, legal issues, quality issues, hiring and firing, national distribution, losses, and feeling the unseen sting of stress and depression.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Build giving into the DNA of your brand at the beginning. Don’t get trapped with pressure to have fast aggressive growth. It’s a marathon so enjoy the scenery.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
Poetry, skiing, cannabis, hiking, tequila, yoga, writing, anti-depressants.
Who is your most important role model?
Ben & Jerry’s illustrated what a business doing good in the world, and not just breathing for stake holders, looks like. They’ve shown that it’s possible to build a company with integrity, social change, sustainability and creativity.
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