ARTICLE / THE MAKING OF... SERIES
The making of...
Whichever way you look at it, Tea is a huge category. And thanks to the likes of T2 and various others, the options seem to be endless. However, Nicole Lamond and Julie Hirsch, Co-Founders of Eloments Natural Vitamins Tea… saw an opportunity to help professional women get their daily nutrients.
The making of... Series
Welcome to The making of... blog series. Can you give us a brief background into who you are and what Eloments Natural Vitamins Tea is all about?
Hello, we’re Nicole Lamond and Julie Hirsch, Co-Founders of Eloments Natural Vitamins Tea. As busy professional women, we wanted to make sure we were getting all of the nutrients we needed to stay healthy, but we hated taking pills and didn’t like the idea of taking synthetic supplements.
Having been involved in Fairtrade tea for many years, we knew that women were turning to tea for its health benefits, but they didn't trust the traditional remedies on offer in the tea aisle. So we thought, why can't we take two parts of their daily health ritual - a vitamin tablet and a cup of tea - and combine them?
Having a cup of tea that has your daily vitamins in it is smart. How did the market react to the idea? What research did you do to arrive at what you've got now and how did you test your product-market fit?
It took two years of research and development to create Eloments. Along the way, we created a patent-pending blending method that allowed us to combine nutrient-rich fruit and herbal extracts with a beautiful cup of Fairtrade tea, resulting in the world’s first 100% natural vitamin tea.
Nicole Lamond and Julie Hirsch, Co-Founders of Eloments Natural Vitamins
With thorough research and development over two years, what were some of the insights that shaped how you launched?
We've always had great feedback on our brand (two years of R&D meant we had two years to develop killer packaging) but we realised that our messaging hierarchy was a bit confusing on our first packaging design. We fixed this about a year after launch, making the words "Vitamin Tea" the biggest text on the pack.
Launching something like tea can be costly. Can you tell us how you initially funded everything?
We started with Seed funding from a Friends and Family round to fund the initial R&D. But once we launched the response was overwhelming. As Eloments quickly expanded to thousands of stores across multiple countries, we realised we needed to raise a Series A round to fund this growth. We became part of the 2.7% club, the percentage of equity funding that went to female founders that year.
Funding is already super difficult, so being part of a 2.7% club is a huge achievement. Well done. And what about your black packaging? Can you tell us how you arrived at the decision?
We knew from the beginning that we wanted black tea boxes. This was unheard of in the tea aisle at the time. It was a very white-washed, colourful and calming landscape. We loved the sophistication of our black tea boxes with their pop of colour and have never moved away from them.
With your brand and funding sorted, how are you getting the word out there? How are you scaling the brand?
We've seen a lot of success with earned media to raise awareness for Eloments Teas. Having an innovative product with a clear social impact has made it possible for us to tell our brand's story, especially as we don't have the budget for large paid campaigns.
So not having the budget for large paid campaigns is one challenge. What are some of the other challenges you think you'll face moving forward?
With so much uncertainty around ongoing shipping delays and inflation, we're pivoting away from strict contracts with retailers and moving more towards online (DTC). As such, we’re building up our skills in e-commerce but any tips or feedback are always appreciated!
So DTC is new to you and it’s something that you’ll no doubt learn and refine as you go… however, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give another entrepreneur who is embarking on their own startup journey?
Never see the word ‘No’ as a stop sign. It's not the end of the road when someone tells you ‘No’, what they're saying is you've just taken a wrong fork in the road. You may have to backtrack, but there's always another way forward.