Making tea cool againBy Rebecca Bodman | Mar 20, 12 02:07 AM
We talk with Maryanne Shearer the founder of T2 about her recent win at the Veuve Clicquot Business Women's Awards.
Congratulations on winning the Veuve Clicquot Business Women Award 2012, how do you feel? Winning the Veuve Clicquot award has made me so proud and I feel priviledged to join the group of incredible women that have won the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year award in previous years.
How did T2 come about? T2 came about from a passion for tea and creating a new and innovative retail experience. Creating a new generation of tea drinkers has been so exciting and we have loved watching people discover tea and all the fun and wellbeing it brings.
What year did it all begin? T2 happened over a cup of tea in 1996, myself and my then business partner thought it would be a great idea to share our passion for tea as everyone at the time was falling in love with coffee. Tea has so much more variety and the romance and history in the tea world is so layered, every day I learn more about tea and more about people, what our customers like and what our suppliers can offer; it’s endless.
How many T2 stores are there now? T2 currently has 30 retail stores nationally and we’re opening approximately one a month for the next 24 months, we also have approximately 1800 wholesale customers and a rapidly growing digital world which includes our online store. Our digital world has become a great way to talk to our customers and for them to talk to us and share their thoughts on our blends and brews.
You made tea cool again – is that what you set out to do? I’m not sure that was our plan, what we wanted to do was open up the very traditional world of tea to a new generation; we did that by approaching it from a young angle. When we started, everything we did was bespoke/very hand made, this was hard to maintain as the business grew but we attempted to keep it simple with a clear message “it’s all about the tea and the experience”.
Are you a diehard tea drinker or do you sneak a coffee in here and there? I start my day with a coffee ... Just one, and then I jump into my daily tea journey which most days includes about 8 to 10 cups of tea.
What been your most challenging moment so far? Convincing people that tea was a great idea in the early years. When we started to really grow the banks weren’t interested, so we had to finance the business from personal cash. Cash flow would have to be the one thing that must be kept in check at all times.
What been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt? We opened stores in the early years where the location was challenging, but the learning was to understand our customer. Choosing a good store location has been critical to our success.
What are you most proud of? The T2 team and their shared passion for what we do at T2. We are a strong and passionate group of tea drinkers who have only just started our journey.