Tasty Teas could soon be coming to a store shelf near you according to Johnathan Forbes Jr, co-founder of the authentic Bahamian ‘bush tea’ producer. He recently told JustBiz242: “We’re about to start some partnerships with local hotels and food stores and you will see Tasty Teas in local hotels and food stores shortly.
The business has come a long way over the past three years according to Forbes, beginning in 2013 with a mobile outfit and just last year Tasty Teas opened its Delancey Street store. The business now produces seven signature juices and ice teas and 13 packaged teas, a number which continues to grow according to Forbes, a 2014 entrepreneurship award winner. Furthermore, Tasty Teas attracts a whopping 600-700 visitors a week and is helping to keep the culture & Heritage of Bush Tea/Medicine alive in the Bahamas.
As to how it all got started Forbes says: “My mother Hilda Forbes used to sell her teas at the farmer’s market and people used to come to get their tea. The farmer’s market was only open on Saturday’s and people would flock to her to get tea. I fell on hard times, had nothing to do and decided to help her out. What we started doing was taking the product around and allowing people to taste it. From there we decided to start doing events and festivals; any event that happened we had to be there. Locals and tourists went crazy over it.”
“We started with our juices and ice teas like the sour sop juice, tamarind juice, and fever grass ice tea, the 21 gun salute which is the natural aphrodisiac and is really popular with men. We started with juices and ice teas and then we moved to packaged teas and loose teas. We started our mobile business in 2013, just riding around selling the product but we opened the store last year. Our team right now is my mom, myself and three workers. Right now, 99.9 per cent of our traffic is tourists. We don’t see much locals but I haven’t been marketing much towards locals. I will probably start sometime soon. We see about 600-700 tourists a week. We have the support of the local tour companies. They bring the visitors by and they love it,” says Forbes.
“It wasn’t easy when we opened the business. The first day started with a bang and then there was a steady decline and I asked myself what I was doing wrong. I literally begged and pleaded with local taxi drivers to bring visitors here and it was a while before they did come. When they did come they saw that the visitors loved it. Now we have a roster of 40 taxi drivers a year and two months later, it’s really unprecedented. The taxis drivers understand it’s a great product and they love it,” said Forbes.
“We have about seven signature juices and ice teas. We have thirteen packaged teas and counting. They include the fever grass, 21 gun salute, Sweet Margaret, spice, bay lavender, pomegranate and we’re working on a signature weight loss tea as well.”
Forbes acknowledges that the round to entrepreneurship hasn’t been easy. “It’s not easy. When you’re doing something by yourself and you have no capital, it’s hard to start a business. You have to have thick skin and be able to hang in there. You’re not going to see cash flowing automatically so you have to be creative and find ways to get people to come to your business. We had to think of creative ways to do that. You have to figure out who your product is for and how you attract those people. You have to be creative, determined and have thick skin,” says Forbes.
For budding and aspiring entrepreneurs, Forbes offers this bit of advice: “Find something that’s going to excite you and you’re going to want to be in for a long time. We all want to get into business to make money but you have to first find your passion. Don’t just get into it for the money, it has to be your passion or else you’re not going to put your all into your product and it’s not going to be the best. You have to sand out. You don’t have to be the only one selling a product but you have to stand out.”
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