Fresno Tea Business Expanding Online, Physical Presence
Hannah Esqueda – Staff Writer Via The Business Journal Since its founding in 2009, Fresno based Raizana Tea Co. has seen a majority of its sales originate online. That trend is set to change, however, as the married owners are increasingly focusing on expanding Raizana’s presence within the physical marketplace while maintaining its essential philosophy. “For us, the idea is not to work hard, but to work smart,” said Sol Orozco, who co-owns the Fresno tea company with husband Pablo. “We try to appeal to the human side of people and make sure our product is helping them.” So far this year, the Fresno tea company has lined up a number of wholesale accounts both domestically and abroad, and will soon be featured on shelves at Whole Foods Market in Fresno. Their natural herbal tea blends have attracted a large local following and Raizana is the house tea at several local cafes. “Everyone loves it. It’s sometimes hard to keep on the shelf even,” said Leo Rios, owner of Cafe Corazon. “It’s delicious, different and feels special.” Rios said his business has carried Raizana teas for five years, and he is impressed by the amount of thought and care the Orozcos put into their products. Even their name signifies their commitment to customers, he said, blending together the Spanish words, raiz, meaning a natural source, and sana, to soothe. Craig Scharton, owner of Peeve’s Public House and Local Market, echoed that sentiment and said the couple has gathered a loyal following through both their business style and teas. “The response to them and their product has been incredible. They've got a lot of fans and we love relaying their story to our customers,” he said. Raizana Tea Company’s roots stem from Sol Orozco’s experiments blending herbs while looking for a natural treatment for her insomnia. Orozco, who formerly worked for Haagen Daaz in Mexico as a food chemist and pastry chef, said she wanted to try and hide the smell of valerian root, which she was using as a natural alternative to sedatives. “I knew it worked but it smells bad. It smells like unwashed socks,” she said. “All herbs have flavors so I tried to mask the smell with others.” Her SleepyTea blend with valerian, passionflower and lavender became a hit with neighbors and friends, and the couple decided to sell their product online. [custom_product id="1114" sku="" title="SleepyTea"] The Fresno tea company created their own website in 2009 and sought business advice from social networking and news website Reddit. Orozco credits the website’s entrepreneur discussion thread with helping guide the couple through the early stages of their business. The online advice led them to focus on building a strong customer base through the Internet, laying a foundation for future expansion. “My husband built the website for us and we also had a shop on Amazon. We were just playing around, but little by little, the sales began to build up,” she said. “We have a lot of loyal customers who came to us that way.” Raizana opened a brick-and-mortar store next to Warnors Theatre in downtown Fresno in 2013, but nearly 80 percent of the company’s total income still comes from online sales. The Fresno tea business sees an average of 700 orders a month and has wholesale accounts in California, Texas, North Carolina, Washington D.C. and New York. Recently, the business signed a deal to be featured by subscription box company Fancy, providing more national exposure. But, Orozco said the couple is also looking to export more and reach further into the global marketplace. “We have an international account already in Japan and we are in talks with a company in Mexico,” she said. “The only issue is that the dollar is so high right now, so we’re just waiting on that.” The Fresno tea company offers more than a dozen tea blends, all of which are produced and packaged inside its shop in downtown Fresno. By packaging the tea in lightweight bags rather than tins or boxes, Orozco said the company is able to cut down on shipment costs, a savings that is passed on to their customers. “It lets us be more competitive for those accounts,” she said. “They really like that it won’t break and is so light.” Currently, both the retail and production sides of Raizana Tea Co. are handled within the Fresno tea shop’s 1,500-square-foot space, however Orozco said she will be taking over a neighboring business space at the end of the month. The couple is considering moving the retail portion of their Fresno tea business to the new shop, while expanding their production operation within the original store. “I’m thinking of making some healthy foods that we can sell along with the tea over there,” she said. “I really want the space to be of use. I want it to be something that will really add to the downtown community.” As with all things Raizana has done, Orozco said the Fresno tea shop will take their time moving in to the new space, growing methodically in order to insure it’s a good fit for them and their customers. That thoughtfulness is what helps keep customers coming back, Rios said. “They care about what they are giving people, they want you to be well with their tea,” he said. “They care about the city and they give to it.” Fresno Tea Business Expanding Online, Physical Presence Hannah Esqueda | Reporter can be reached at: 490-3461 or e-mail email@example.com
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