A Q&A with Justin and Alexandra Harris, owners and operators of HoiTEA ToiTEA in Broad Ripple and Keystone, Indiana. HoiTEA ToiTEA is a unique business that specializes in locally roasted coffee, hand crafted artisan tea, and much more. HoiTEA ToiTEA offers cafes to relax, classes to make your very own tea blend, and of course retail to purchase their unique products.
How would you describe your business to a complete stranger?
HoiTEA ToiTEA is designed for the modern day drinker, offering locally roasted coffee, small batch, hand crafted, artisan tea, and tea infused pastries. As well as bottomless champagne tea cocktails everyday. We cater to tea drinkers and coffee drinkers alike.
Why did you start your business?
We started our business because we saw a gap in the market for catering to tea drinkers. Its easy to find a coffee house and its easy to find a traditional tea cafe, but there was nothing we found that catered to tea drinkers in a way that is high quality and convenient.
What steps did you take to start your business?
1) Industry research – We made sure we had a sound understanding of the industry we were entering and the forecasted growth of the industry.
2) World Tea expo – We attended the world tea expo to meet with similarly minded people and to further understand the industry challenges, gaps, and how to be successful. While our ideas were very unique we still needed to understand what type of an impact we could make and if anyone else has done what we are doing.
3) Bounced ideas off of trusted friends, colleagues, SBA, and SCORE
4) Collaborated with local businesses – We partnered with local cafes and we were able to test our tea blending classes and concepts to determine if there was a viable market for our ideas.
What has been the greatest challenge with starting and/or operating your business?
Prioritization of time. Through the last decade we have learned and solved more problems than what either of us would have ever imagined. We have had to learn accounting, marketing, A/C, Heating, plumbing, electric, machine repair, and a myriad of other items that we have never had or have cared to have knowledge of. Running a business is not just about applying your knowledge and expanding your excitement about your passion, but also it’s about expanding yourself and your own personal boundaries and capabilities.
What has been the biggest surprise since starting your business?
The biggest surprise in starting our business was the amount of capital it would take to get the business off the ground. The largest surprise that we had was the necessity to buy out former business partners and finance the business ourselves. Bankable has allowed us to continue growth as well as provided us with resources such as marketing and accounting advise that we would not have had access to otherwise.
What do you feel has been your greatest success since launching the business?
We believe the greatest success we have had thus far is opening up the second HoiTEA ToiTEA location with the help of Bankable. Our second location is an absolute blessing.
Running a business is not just about applying your knowledge and expanding your excitement about your passion, but also it’s about expanding yourself and your own personal boundaries and capabilities. “
Where do you see your business in 3 years?
In 3 years we anticipate having at least 1 more corporately owned location before we begin digging into franchising. Ultimately, we would like to see HoiTEA ToiTEA cafes in every major city throughout the U.S.
What is something you wish you would have known before you launched your business?
Ask for money before you need it.
What advice would you give to another entrepreneur looking to start their own business?
Ask yourself how committed you are to your business idea. Are you willing to work 18 hour days for months or years on end in order to fulfill your vision? Are you willing to sacrifice time with your friends, family, and significant other for the greater good of fulfilling your professional goals? Ultimately, success in your own business is directly related to the capital and elbow grease you apply. I always compare business ownership to pushing a boulder up a hill. If you aren’t willing to do the hard work every day, and keep that boulder moving, it will roll over and squish you and all that follow you.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your business or your story?
We decided when we got married that we would keep Alex’s maiden name alive by creating a business. That’s how Nelson’s Tea was born. We started blending teas out of our house and it quickly became more and more of an obsession. We continue to push our boundaries and discover new and exciting ways that we can produce tea infusions inclusive of frozen custard, liquor, beer, champagne, coffee & tea beverages, and tea blends that are outside of the box. We have put everything into Nelson’s Tea & HoiTEA ToiTEA. Our retirement, and livelihood rests on the success of our vision.
To learn more about HoiTEA ToiTEA and their story, visit them here: https://hoiteatoitea.com/
Bankable is a nonprofit organization that is focused on the economic development of Indiana communities through creation, growth, and sustainability of jobs through small businesses. We do this by equipping under-served small businesses with capital solutions, business development resources, and meaningful mentorship so they can become bankable.