July, 2013, I walked into the ferry building for the first time admiring the the location, the architecture and all the fresh, well packaged farm-to-table chocolates and fancy coffees. I took some photos of the packaging and whatsapped them to Rashmi, in India.
“Look! It’s like the brown paper packaging we have for Mana! I see it everywhere in SF”. I knew what she was going to say. “Thicks, figure out a way to get our products there, it will fit right in that market”.
I was in the Bay Area for my masters, studying development practice – a sort of an MBA in sustainability. May, 2015 I graduated from Berkeley, having completed my masters and really being steeped in the Bay Area culture, spending the two best years of my life. Having researched and studied the market for socially responsible, organic teas – I wanted to dive straight into converting my thoughts into actions. I also had personal, ulterior motives – how could I leave the Bay Area forever? I had to find a valid reason for me to visit frequently!
Novemeber, 2015, John and I formed Mana USA , the formal organization to bring Mana to the US. We were starting to figure out the importing process, work out the international business steps and figuring out where we would start. We started selling online, and slowly our sales picked up, as we learned more about online marketing, and working with Amazon. I was still restless about having a physcial presence, and a way for interacting with our customers.
In Novemeber 2016, we found out about the SF tea festival – it was a great event to showcase our teas and meet potential customers and talk about our teas with them – but alas, we were too late, and the festival was all booked by the time we got to them. We settled for getting on their list for annoucements and information.
March 2017 – I got the email from the SF tea fest folks inviting us to apply to be exhibitors. John and I jumped at the opportunity, and took it instantly. We feared we would be too late again.
We got our sample sachets readied for the sampler bags that went to all the attendees. We got our t-shirts designed.
This was the first time we were exhibiting directly to consumers! And the venue was the Ferry Building! I was super excited, as I remembered my promise to myself - to bring Mana to the ferry building. I know we were only selling at the ferry building for 1 day, but I got a little kick out of it. It had taken me 4 years, but we were here!
SF TEA FEST 2017
The SF tea festival was hosted at the Ferry building, on the 12th of Novemeber, and what an event it was! Tea vendors, big and small from all over the world were exhibiting to meet the SF and Bay Area folk who graced the occasion by coming out in large numbers, lining up and tasting teas patiently as the floor got crowded and people got tea drunk as they sipped more tea.
The event also gave us a chance to meet Anna, from theteasquirrel, a tea enthusiast and blogger who has been a Mana tea drinker. It was also a great venue to connect with some other like minded tea ventures, Young Mountain Tea, and Nepal Tea – both socially driven ventures working in India and Nepal respectively. We hope to connect and find synnergies to work together to collaborate on some projects!
At the Mana booth, we had Arthur, Sheena John and myself, serving our classic Assam Black orthodox black tea, and our special Assam Green SuperTwist tea. We served out more than 1000 cups of tea, at the minimum and had a great time meeting customers new and old, friends and family who were there to support us.
A lot of our friends made it out, and unfortunately, some didn’t – as the event was sold out! The tea festival volunteers were absolutely great, and helped us out with the water, the trash and overall logistics of keeping the event going smoothly.
For all those who missed the SF tea festival this year, and those of you in other parts of the world who want to stock up on your teas, or buy your christmas gifts, or learn more about us – please do visit our website www.mana-organics.com or write to us : firstname.lastname@example.org
We have a special holiday sale– do avail of our discount code MANA2017 on our online store at check out. Valid from 24th – 27th Novemeber, 2017.
SF and Bay Area folks, see you again next year!
Until then – get cozy, get warm and sip some tea! Winter is come!