16 Nov Building A Community Of Tea
On a cold yet sunny day in Toorak, Melbourne, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit down with Janet Roach and Jake Zoogoolas, the founders of Raw Essentials. As they graciously welcomed me into their home, I was able to ask them some questions about Raw Essentials, over a cup of tea, naturally.
Although, for a self-confessed coffee addict, being asked to have a cup of tea was quite unsettling. What if I didn’t like it? What if it tasted like grass? My only experience with tea was when my grandfather gave me a cup whilst camping… I disliked the taste so much I spat it out over the campfire! I was hoping and praying that history would not repeat itself. Janet kindly made me a cup of Raw Essentials ‘Power’ tea and it was delicious! I was able to get through my cup of tea in no time and I have become an advocate for anyone wanting to make the shift from coffee to tea; don’t get me wrong though, I’m still ‘3 cups of coffee a day’ kind of guy!
Now, I am excited to share with you some facts about Raw Essentials and the story behind how this wonderful company came about.
Jake and Janet, tell me, what is Raw Essentials?
Raw Essentials specializes in tea that is designed for health and wellbeing. We select only the finest all natural ingredients that are blended masterfully to create teas that heal, nourish, rebalance and provide an uplifting daily ritual.
How did the business idea start?
In April 2011, Jake was severely burnt in a fire, which resulted in him having burns to 69% of his body and he had a 35% chance of survival. Over the next two years, Jake had to endure endless rounds of treatments; the results were amazing however they left Jake tired. I have always had a love for tea, some might call it an obsession… after a lot of persuading and persistence from me, I convinced Jake to try the teas that I had been blending.
The Foundation was actually our first idea. We wanted to be able to make a difference in the lives of people who have been affected by burns. When Jake was in hospital receiving his treatment, he asked if another patient had had the same treatment. He was then told that the woman he was enquiring about couldn’t afford the treatment; it was at that moment, Jake realized he had to help people just like her.
We agreed that we didn’t want to fundraise in the traditional sense so we talked about how we could fund the Foundation. Creating Raw Essentials seemed like a natural step, combining a passion for tea with a passion for the Roach Foundation.
When I was finally able to get Jake to try some of the herbal tea that I had blended, tea that was specifically designed to heal, we could begin to see the effects on Jake. It was a detoxing process and once Jake started, he began to find a new found energy which resulted in more of a positive and motivated outlook.
Tea was always a hobby for me and going from property to tea felt like a natural progression. There is so much to learn about blends, tea and cultures; every tea is different and it provides me with new challenges each and every day.
What is different about Raw Essentials?
Each ingredient is precisely measured and selected to ensure that optimum benefits are achieved from every cup, while still ensuring that the aroma and flavours compliment each other, to create the perfect balanced blend.
We are proud to be Australian made and owned and all of our teas are natural, GM-free, vegan and cruelty-free (no animal testing). We source our premium ingredients ethically and mindfully and from reputable suppliers.
Our custom-made Raw Essentials bottles are made using high-quality violet glass, which is designed to protect the freshness and beneficial properties of the tea once opened, as light can damage the natural tea compounds.
Can you tell me about your 28 day detox?
A Detox tea in the morning helps to rebalance and reinvigorate you and a Detox tea in evening completes the daily detox ritual. Jake and I completed our first 28 day detox and it went really well! We did it as a group and it was amazing as we were able to encourage each other.
I used our Power tea before training as it is designed to give you energy and uplift you. It gives you more of a peak than coffee does! After training I would have an Anti-Inflammatory tea to aid in the repair of my muscles and then I would settle down with a good book in the evening, enjoying a cup of our Sleep tea, which became a part of my nightly routine.
What was the biggest challenge?
In the beginning, the biggest challenge was that we were so focused on getting the tea blends perfect we neglected some other areas of the business such as marketing and branding.
International business is another challenge; packaging, trademarking and customs can differentiate from country to country. Being a new brand is also a huge challenge as you need to get your marketing and branding correct. Spreading the word and encouraging people to try the product is always going to be a challenge.
What was your marketing approach?
We just threw it together and targeted everyone. It was a big mistake as we had to rework the whole strategy. We had to move to ‘Plan B’ very quickly. In hindsight, this was a wonderful lesson, which we learnt from and we can now move forward being more informed about our target market and brand messaging.
What keeps you inspired?
We are passionate about the Foundation and helping others through the power of tea.
Tea is addictive and tea is motivating… you can learn so much from it and having a passion can lead to so many things. We all should have an interest in what is going into our bodies and we should be educated on the little things as these are the things that can make big changes.
How does the Roach Foundation work?
The purpose of the Foundation is to provide much needed emotional and financial support to burns patients and their families, during both the treatment and rehabilitation processes.
The Foundation offers direct financial support through a network of medical specialists, specialising in burns treatments and through a range of emotional support services, as post-traumatic stress plays a major part in a survivor’s life. A portion of all Raw Essentials tea sales goes directly towards the Foundation and through generous donations, the Foundation has been able to provide much needed support and services to burns patients and their families.
The survivor is the main priority however it affects the whole family so we have developed a 2 year treatment plan which we see them through over the whole 2 years. We are also donating Penthrax to help reduce the pain during the procedures.
Jake, what’s next for Raw Essentials?
We are looking to expand our wholesale division. I have a few big things going on in China, about 10 blends in the making, lots of testing and working different blends of herbs. That’s all I can say at this stage!
We are also excited to be growing our community of like-minded tea people, sharing our experiences and our journeys together!
CONNECT WITH RAW ESSENTIALS:
Website: RE Raw Essentials