- Tell us a bit about you and your business, Eteaket, and how it came about.
I’m the Founder & Managing Director of Eteaket leaf tea co. We empower tea drinkers all over the world to develop their own personal tea routines so that they can pause, rebalance and thrive more every day. I am primarily responsible for business development and overseeing the running of our Wholesale, Ecommerce, Training & Membership business streams.
I was previously a litigation lawyer where I worked on some high profile civil and insurance litigation cases, including assisting in taking a case to the House of Lords. I had a moment of clarity in the bath one morning and decided to quit my job and go backpacking round Sri Lanka and India to learn all about tea and find suppliers for my tea business idea. I moved from London to Edinburgh to start Eteaket 15 years ago.
I’m a regular speaker on all things tea, business and mental wellbeing related. I’m also a Trustee for the mental health and wellbeing charity Health In Mind, a business mentor, Mental Health First Aider, NLP Practitioner, Vedic Meditator, Reiki Practitioner, Women's Enterprise Scotland Ambassador, mother of girls, campervan lover & occasional surfer.
- How did you get here? How did your experiences growing up shape your life today?
I’ve learned the hard way that it’s all too easy to follow the well-trodden path and to do what’s conventionally expected of you. I have to constantly fight to listen to my inner voice and actively choose the right path for me. Sometimes that path is difficult to see, especially if you’re going at a million miles an hour. That’s why I build in pauses during my day to listen to my tea leaves and tune in. Starting your own business is really the best university you could go to!! And you learn so much about yourself as well which is the really interesting part.
My Mum brought me up to believe that I could achieve anything I wanted and I’m forever grateful for that. My Dad forged his own way in business and I was inspired by the way he always thought outside the box and looked at different ways of doing things. As a family, I grew up sailing in the West Coast of Scotland, which threw up plenty of challenges to grow my resilience.
- What makes your business unique and where did the name “Eteaket” come from?
Eteaket is unique because of our 3 step Thrive In 3 process. We empower tea drinkers to pause and rebalance while sipping on the highest quality, ethically sourced teas so that you can thrive more every day.
We fuse our knowledge of tea with our love for self-care & philosophy by suggesting a series of tea routines to do while you’re waiting for your tea to brew. We’ve designed our teas around the Chinese 5 Elements theory so that you can choose a tea based on how you’re feeling to help rebalance your body and mind. As well a blending teas in harmony with the 5 Elements, we often add in a Scottish twist, like the hand-harvested sugar kelp in our Isle of Harris Gin Tea.
The name ‘eteaket’ came about when I got terrible service in a café one day, turned to my husband and said ‘that’s really bad etiquette’ then a light bulb went off and we both smiled at each other and knew that was the name. Guess it’s a bit like naming your kids.
- Where are you based and how did you end up in that location?
We’re now based in Giles St near Leith Shore in Edinburgh as we wanted a flexible, calm space where we could allow space for ideas to brew. The space allows us to host a range of tea and wellness creative events like our recent Immersive Scottish Tea Experience. It’s also a space where we can train our trade partners and hosting our online courses, workshops and events.
- What has been an unforeseen difficulty that you encountered with your business? A speed bump that you didn’t expect.
Ehh, how long have you got! It does seem to be a daily occurrence. Obviously the Covid Pandemic was quite a speed bump but that coupled with the disastrous and lasting effects of Brexit coupled with the cost of living crisis have really tested our mettle and our ability to evolve.
After Brexit there was a point where we pretty much had to stop suppling to Europe. We would send out a £40 tea package and the customer’s customs note would be upward of £50/60 on top of what they’ve already paid plus delivery which is just crazy. There didn’t seam to be a reason behind it, every country was different, every courier was different, every time we sent something the charges were different. As a team and a business we have learned a lot and it has definitely made us stronger and more focused.
- As a mum and an entrepreneur, how do you achieve work-life balance? What does a typical day look like for you?
I prefer the term work-life integration. I see life in through the 5 Element system and it’s very rare that everything will be perfectly balanced. We each go through different seasons though and you’ll have different priorities at different points. For example, I’m super focused on developing new tea projects at the moment, then as we move into Autumn and the Metal Element I’ve got lots of learning lined up… then when we get to Summer and the Fire Element I aim to take at least the whole of July off so I can travel round Europe with my family in our van. There’s a similar cycle within each day to. The art is being intentional about what you’re spending time on and why and being as present as possible. Easier said than done!
- How are you becoming more sustainable in life and in work?
The biggest thing we’ve done recently is create our new retail packaging so that our cartons now come with collars. That means we can now create small runs of bespoke teas in bespoke packaging for other brands (like the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh!) And it results in so much less cardboard and less waste. It’s a win for us, clients and the environment. We spend at lot of time ensuring we’re making the most of current innovations like our bio-degradable and compostable inner bags and our recyclable trade bags.
Obviously, we’re huge fans of loose leaf tea – if more people drunk loose tea daily we could save on some much unnecessary packaging (not to mention all the micro-plastic in some standard tea bags).
As home, with our new space in Leith my commute is a lovely (if more strenuous that it should be) cycle along the coast.
- No Inspirational Woman is an island - tell us about your team/who supports you?
I’m super grateful to have such a great team as Eteaket just wouldn’t exist without them. The last few years have been such a crazy ride so the fact that we’ve worked together to get through it and keep thriving is all down to them. My Operations Manager, Sam, is the super-woman glue that holds everything together. She more than makes up for all my weaknesses and I’m constantly blown away by her creative thinking and ability to get things done. She needs a better job title because she does so much!
Then there’s my Creative Manager, Lorn, who is responsible for brand, design and product development. Her design ideas and skills are second to none and I love working on new ideas with her. She’s the only one who can translate what’s in my head into something people can see and understand!
I could go on all day… I just hope everyone who is and has ever been part of Eteaket know that I really do appreciate them and value their work in helping us get to where we are today.
- What is your favourite part of your job?
I run a bi-annual Thrive In 3 course for women who want to learn how to thrive personally, love life & fuel their professional growth in 3 powerful steps. It involves regular zoom sessions where we come together for tea meditations centred around particular challenges. I love the fact I can be creative and merge my love for tea with meditation, Reiki, NLP, mindset work and coaching. When I see people growing and becoming happier everyday that makes me happy.
- Did you ever have a mentor or inspirational woman that you looked up to?
I’ve always looked up to my Mum as a role model. She had to leave home at 14 to go to school (she’s from the Islands) and created an amazing life but at the heart of it I’ve always been struck by her generosity and the way she goes above and beyond to help other people. She’s now in her 70s and spends a lot of time visiting elderly people who need someone to talk to. I’m often struck by how she’s always known the value of connection and moments rather than material things.
As for other women, as an Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland I’m hugely inspired by the achievements of Carolyn Currie and her team of Ambassadors. I’m also inspired by women like Bozoma Saint John, Fearne Cotton, Davina McCall and Mel Robbins who are living life their way and killing it. Not to mention Antoinette Fiona-Douglas of course – her vision and ethics have had a real influence on me.
- What advice would you give to someone following in your footsteps?
Pop the kettle on, make yourself some tea and sit quietly. Keep sitting for as long as it takes to hear your inner voice. Not the annoying one trying to keep you safe. The quiet one telling you if you’re on the right path or not. Then once you know, hang onto that. You don’t need advice or permission from anyone else. Be brave and take the next small step.
- What’s next for you and Eteaket?
We have just launched our new e-commerce website where our trade customers will also be able to order online. We’re also building our own online course and membership platform within our site so we can create an amazing experience for anyone that wants to Thrive In 3! We’re excited about Christmas and doing lots of recipe creation behind the scenes… watch this space for lots of fun events, pop ups and collaborations!