Krisi Smith was just 24 years old when she started Bird & Blend Tea Co. Without any business experience behind her, she didn’t even realize she was doing market research and building a community at the beginning. She wasn’t focused on best practices and business plans, but rather, she was getting to know her customers on a personal level.
“We would just go to markets, festivals, food shows, and pay a 50 quid to pitch and stand there all day and ask people to try the tea, tell us what they like, hopefully buy a bit. And then before they left, we would say, ’Will you join us either on our email list or on our private Facebook group?’” Krisi says. “I didn’t know this was a great marketing strategy. I was just trying to get people to tell me how I could improve this idea that I had.”
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Krisi’s idea was to bring unique tea blends to the UK, where most people drank only English Breakfast teas. She and her co-founder, Mike Turner, needed to get people to try samples of their tea blends, so they started an email list and a private Facebook group. That way, they were able to get not only feedback, but also a loyal following.
The community ended up being instrumental through many milestones of the business.