A few years ago, Orleatha Smith was burnt out, anxious and nervous – and she knew coffee was the culprit. She tried numerous alternatives, but they either contained insomnia-inducing amounts of caffeine, or they simply tasted awful. In 2020, Smith launched Sip Herbals, which sells prebiotic teas that are caffeine-free and made from a short list of whole-food ingredients: chicory root for gut support, dandelion root for liver support, and carob to deliver the smooth mouthfeel of coffee. The Gresham, Oregon, mompreneur is now figuring out ways to market her growing business on a budget, while still savoring the experience of bringing people together over a warm drink.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
We do not use ingredients like caffeine or adaptogens, which can trigger jitters, anxiety, pain or fatigue. Our products are also prebiotic, and designed with gut health in mind – providing an added layer of support for those with sensitive digestive systems.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
We recently won a Comcast Rise Grant, and had our biggest sales month ever!
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
With limited resources for marketing, we’ve had to get creative about spreading the word. We’ve found success in creating relationships with influencers on social media, tapping into their networks to reach a targeted audience. To sweeten the deal, we encourage them to host giveaways and offer exclusive coupon codes to their followers, which not only boosts their own commissions but also boosts brand awareness.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Ask for help. Reach out to your network, attend industry events, and seek advice from experts. Asking for help is a sign of strength, and it can help you achieve greater success in your business – not to mention, reduce the risk of burnout.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
My husband and kids keep my fire stoked and burning.
What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?
“Titanium” by David Guetta.
Who is your most important role model?
My mother. She worked tirelessly to make sure that we had everything we needed growing up. ◼