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Jul 30, 2015 8:48 EDT

solidariTEA: We’re an organic iced tea company raising needed funds for Bay Area justice & art. Deeply rooted in health, solidariTEA is our way of building & strengthening community through food, inside & out.

iCrowdNewswire - Jul 30, 2015
Personal Story

One afternoon in the spring of 2011, my sweetheart Trey and I were planning a social gathering of friends from our community organizing circle. Always the one for cheesy jokes, I suggested, “Why don’t we invite everyone over for cookies and….. solidari-tea?” We both initially laughed at the idea, but something in the name deeply resonated with us — and it stuck.

After all, I had been working as an environmental educator for years — first as a naturalist on trails and later in classrooms as a Director of Climate & Waste Action with a local nonprofit. I was also growing frustrated with the financial culture of many nonprofits, and what I saw as the restrictions and politics many of the corporate and foundation grants were saddled with, and how those limitations often negatively impacted the quality and scope of work we provided to schools.

Trey, meanwhile, was deeply embedded in the scientific research world: he had just joined a joint UCSF/UC-Berkeley Ph.D. Program in Bioengineering. He was researching malignant gliomas, a common type of terminal brain cancer, and working to develop new imaging methods to better diagnose patients and predict outcome. A cancer survivor himself, much of his personal research has explored using food as medicine, and the power of combining Eastern and Western philosophies of health and healing.

That summer, something clicked: what if there was a way to address both of the challenges we were struggling with as well as our passions, deeply rooted in social justice and community? What if we could support local change-makers in a real way and support our community’s health?

And so blossomed solidariTEA: a social venture bottled iced tea company! It’s our way of building and strengthening community through food, inside and out.

Business Description

We are a Berkeley-based, organic, bottled iced tea company whose profits support arts & justice in the Bay Area, as one alternative to traditional grant funding for local nonprofits. Ten cents from every bottle of tea contributes to a revolving $18,000 grant for our partners — an unrestricted grant built from trust, to be used at their discretion. We’re currently partnered with the Rock Paper Scissors Collective–a community art-education space and gallery in downtown Oakland–and People’s Grocery, an amazing food justice organization in West Oakland. We’re proud to report that we made our first contribution of $3,500 this May.

All of our teas are lightly sweetened, creatively flavored, and brewed with love locally. The tea leaves themselves are organic & fair-trade, and each recipe is crafted with health in mind: using organic spices, botanicals, and juice blends that are high in antioxidants. Each tea has its own spectrum of health promoting qualities that range from fighting inflammation to containing compounds that naturally prevent against cancer.

solidariTEA’s mission is to support the health and resiliency of the Bay Area community, inside and out.

What is the purpose of this loan?

Brokering, distributing, and demoing our teas ourselves has been one of the most rewarding pieces of solidariTEA: it’s allowed us to personally cultivate relationships with our buyers, our store teams, and the communities who shop/eat/learn in each location. Yet we now find ourselves at a strategic tipping point: with two years of sales and 50+ accounts under our belt, we are now looking to expand our family of teas as well as our impact and the accessibility of our teas.

As I write this, I’m thrilled to announce solidariTEA’s new partnership with an amazing, local distributer who services all of the high-end natural grocery stores in Northern California and Nevada. This includes all of the Whole Foods Markets, New Leafs, and Mollie Stone’s in the region. With a strong distributor at our back, the positive effects will be twofold: first, it will allow us to increase accessibility of our teas to consumers within and beyond our current distribution region; and secondly, allow us to scale up our fundraising efforts for our community partners. Ultimately, this partnership will amplify the social and health impact of solidariTEA.

With this expansion comes increased costs, for each new account that brings our teas in will require demo support and sample product to build movement and drive customer awareness and sales. We also are in the process of perfecting two new green tea recipes. Currently we offer two black teas and a caffeine-free red tea, and while both teas have amazing health properties, green tea is well renowned — and researched — as the cancer-fighting queen. One of the green teas will also be completely unsweetened. We just received a Whole Foods Small Producer Grant to support the purchase of our ingredients and production of our green teas this Fall, however we still need to raise money to support the design and production of the labels, case packaging, and to do our nutrition analysis.

We will use this $5k Kiva Zip loan as follows:

$1000 — Travel, sample product, and demo support for the Northern CA/NV expansion
$1500 — Green tea label and tray element designs
$500 — Nutritional analysis of green teas
$2000 — Label plate production and first run of labels

Up until this point, solidariTEA has been running on the generosity of family & friends through personal loans, through past crowdfunding campaigns, our monthly revenue, and first and foremost, out of our own pockets. Your contribution is a vote of confidence in us, our mission, and everything we’re building through solidariTEA, and it gets us one step closer to ensuring the sustainability of that vision and our own livelihoods as we work our hardest to make it happen.

Thank you!

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