Every other week, we do a short profile of someone who has been successful creating a career out of doing what they love. We call it The Inspirationals and we hope they will inspire you too!
Why do we love JennaDee & Abianne?
JennaDee and Abianne are close to our hearts for a lot of reasons. Erica and I have known these sisters since we were little, so we have always loved them and their entire family, even before they got into harvesting Texas tea. But we got pretty excited when we learned that they had started a tea company. Two sisters, starting a company, doing what they love – how inspirational is that?
Our sister Julie gave us some of their Cat Spring Tea for our Christmas stockings. I brought the tea back to South Africa with me and started drinking it each afternoon while I was writing blog posts. The tea was so delicious, I decided to get back in touch with JennaDee & Abianne and find out how they got into this (ad)venture.
How were JennaDee & Abianne inspired to start Cat Spring Tea?
Cat Spring Tea sources local heritage yaupon tea plants grown between Houston and Austin. Completely locally sourced and manufactured, Cat Spring tea is reviving the tradition of yaupon tea which has been lost for over 100 years.
JennaDee and Abianne are true entrepreneurs. While researching plants growing on their family ranch, they rediscovered a much maligned resource, the yaupon tea plant, which had been a thorn in the side of Texas farmers for generations. Eclipsed by imported tea over a hundred years ago, the yaupon tea plant has faded into near obscurity. Surprised to find a tea plant in their backyard, they started playing around with ways to prepare the tea. Soon, a small community of yaupon tea drinkers were interested in their experiments and got involved.
Turns out, this tea isn’t just delicious: it’s also full of good, healthy stuff too. The type of caffeine in yaupon tea is theobromine, the same caffeine in dark chocolate. It also contains loads of antioxidants, and delivers a boost of caffeine close to that of coffee.
JennaDee and Abianne decided to start Cat Spring Tea to give this local tea plant a second chance. By pulling together start-up funding from friends and family via Kickstarter to get their dream off the ground, they created their first batch of tea. Their company is now creating fair wage jobs for Texans and bringing back a lost tradition.
Quotable: The sisters on their new venture…
From JennaDee: We are honored and delighted to see our family pull together to build this company. It’s a completely vertical enterprise – we harvest, we transport, we manufacture, and we ship. Abianne and I could not do it alone; our sister and our mom and the three men in our lives afford us great encouragement and deep resources. (from her interview on jewelry designer Andrea Montgomery’s blog).
From Abianne: I was with lululemon in DC for a few years. It was an amazing experience, and I was able to plan some pretty cool things like Cherry Blossom Yoga on the National Mall. The people and community at lululemon is very goal focused; every 6 months, we would go through the exercise of defining our 6 month, 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year goals. It was an amazingly insightful process and simultaneously humbling because we would then post them in the store for all of our guests and coworkers to see, to encourage us, and to hold ourselves accountable. Through that process, I realized I wanted to start my own company and that it was really important to me that the mission of the business be making a difference. I left lululemon to move back to Austin to attend Acton (an MBA in entrepreneurship program) with the intention of starting a social impact business upon completion. Little did I know I’d be starting one with JennaDee – even better!!
How would we describe these sisters in one word?
Traditional. We use this word in the positive sense, not the negative one. JennaDee and Abianne are reviving a long-lost tradition – Yaupon tea. At the same time, they are building their business in a traditional way: with the support of family and with the intention of bringing sustainable jobs to the local community.
Thanks, JennaDee & Abianne, for sharing your story with us and giving us some inspiration (and my afternoon cuppa!).