The start of Cozy Leaf is something I’m asked about all the time. Why did I choose tea? What made me want to start a tea company?
The answer is simple: I wanted to drink tea that was good for me but also tasted good. As a music theater major in 2002, I found myself mid-semester on a strict vocal rest after developing vocal nodes. As a singer and performer, I knew I needed to heal quickly. My mom, who has always been pretty health conscious, sent me some herbal teas to help. They tasted HORRIBLE!!!! I could hardly choke them down! I wanted desperately to feel better but they were so awful. I started studying the plants and herbs in the tea I was drinking and how they all worked together. Then, I ordered my own raw ingredients and started blending them together myself. Little did I know that I had just created a base of recipes that would over a decade later become Cozy Leaf. But, we’re jumping ahead of ourselves. . .
After college, I got married and had three kiddos. I hung up my theater hat and embraced the home life. I homeschooled my kids and cared for a huge garden and farm animals in our backyard. We had goats, chickens, bees, ducks, turkeys, pigs, rabbits, and whatever else wandered our way. Our garden was 2,000 square feet and brought in close to 1 ton of vegetables every year. It was good, simple living. I continued studying the art of tea blending during this time. I learned about how plants worked together and the importance of formulas for optimal brew flavor and health benefits. I had friends help test my formulas until they were the right mixture of healthy and delicious. Sometimes a blend came together as quickly as six weeks, other times it took over a year to source the best ingredients and find the perfect formula. But, after a decade of study and blending, I had a few dozen recipes ready.
In 2009, with encouragement from family and friends, I decided to open up an Etsy shop in with just $100 and a shelf in my house. I didn’t think it would be a big deal. But, in that first year, I had a couple thousand purchases. It dawned on me that maybe I had something special here… but I hadn’t even chosen a name! While brainstorming with my mom, she drew a little logo on a napkin for our favorite idea - Cozy Leaf. I loved it and Cozy Leaf was officially born.
In 2012, I started a website for Cozy Leaf and did a few expos throughout the year, as well as sell on Etsy. For several years, in continued to be a side hobby alongside being a stay at home mom with my kids and crazy farm animals.
In 2014, I was contacted by a local coffee shop entrepreneur in Wichita, Kansas (Andrew Gough with Reverie Coffee Roasters). He had heard about my tea blends and wanted to carry them in his local coffee shop. I said no because I wasn't licensed to sell wholesale and I wasn't interested in it at the time. But he was very persistent. Seriously - he called me once a week for months! It was about this same time, I received a phone call from a Whole Foods Market representative out of Colorado. He had got his hands on some of my tea blends (no doubt by the above mentioned and persistent Andrew Gough) and he encouraged me to pursue wholesale because he wanted to carry it in the local Whole Foods Market. He said he knew the market and he knew it would do well. I still wasn't sure if I was ready for it at this point. But, I had a friend very seriously say "When Whole Foods calls you, You say YES!"
So, I put on my entrepreneur hat and decided to leap for it. But, before I could start selling Cozy Leaf teas in stores, I had to wade through months worth of paperwork and legal ick in just twelve weeks. Those days were riddled with stress - I was a THEATER major after all, not a business major! But, if theater taught me anything, it was how to pull everything together for opening night with limited money and a short timeline. So, I lost sleep and handled it with the utmost grace and dignity, I’m sure. Ha!
Just twelve weeks later, this small town Kansas girl turned business owner wrote her very first invoice and she was officially putting Cozy Leaf teas on the shelves of Whole Foods Market in Wichita, KS. I knew, even being a brand new business, that companies work for years before getting the opportunity to sell to Whole Foods, so it was a huge moment.
And that’s how it all started… how a Kansas girl’s obsession with tea became a company. That invoice was written almost three years ago and we're still going strong today. The life of a business owner is often filled with new highs and lows, but I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love every day.
Thank you for being part of the Cozy Leaf story!