When James Shelby fell ill one night in February 2015, he had no idea it was a blessing in disguise.
His then girlfriend, (now fiancé), Chastity Nearer noticed her guy’s condition and thought a hot cup of tea might help. Chastity, a native North Carolinian, grew up on southern style sweet tea. Knowing however that James was not a tea drinker, she added a few extra ingredients. The concoction wasn’t planned. “I just started putting some stuff together,” recalls Nearer. Upon sipping the tea, James thought it was “a masterpiece” and immediately stated, “We should put this into production.” Chastity thought it was a joke, but for James, the seed had been planted.
As friends and family would visit, James would request that Chastity serve their special tea cold. Their guests, like James, raved about the drink- serving as further confirmation that the pair might be onto something.
The final test was James’ friend, restaurant owner Rico Nance. After tasting the brew, Nance agreed to test the tea’s success at his restaurant Litehouse Grill. The tea proved to be lighting in a bottle! It sold out daily during its test run and soon became a regular menu item.
The pair got to work on developing their new brand, and Love Tea, LLC made its official debut in July 2015. Since that time, Love Tea, LLC has introduced seven additional tea flavors including Couple’s Retreat (a mint-infused lemonade, Chastity’s personal favorite), Sweet Pea (a peach-flavored Sweet Tea), and Sweet Heart, (a fantastic strawberry lemonade) that is its best seller.
Like most entrepreneurial endeavors, building their business has required a great deal of commitment and hard work. The duo personally handles every aspect of their business- from marketing to tea production to delivering orders. Chastity, who also works a full-time corporate job, spends her nights working the business. James left his corporate job to operate Love Tea, LLC full time. (The night prior to our interview, James had slept a total of one hour.) Despite the heavy workload, he describes going full-time with Love Tea, LLC as “the best decision he’s ever made.”
To be sure, the hard work is paying off. Love Tea is currently being offered in several area restaurants including: Mikkey’s Grill, Litehouse Grill, Truth Italian and Laine’s Bake Shop, with talks for more in the works. The couple also fills orders from their online store. For their one-year anniversary, Love Tea,LLC ran a 24-hour special which took in a whopping 509 orders.
ADVICE TO NEW ENTREPRENEURS
When asked about what they’ve learned from their first year of business, and what advice they would give new entrepreneurs, the couple shared:
- Do your research and really learn the business.
- Don’t tell anybody your plan- keep it to yourself. There can be a lot of negativity.
- You must be self motivated and self-focused.
- Surround yourself with people are motivated. Also surround yourself with other business owners who understand what it’s like.
- And make sure you get a lawyer who’s in your field of business.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
Although Love Tea LLC has had a successful first year of business, the ambitious pair has big goals for their brand. “Ultimately, we’d like to have a storefront. We would also like to get into grocery stores like Whole Foods and Mariano’s,” shared the duo. They are currently working towards full shipping capabilities for online orders.
In the meantime, the happy couple is excited (ecstatic, really) for their upcoming nuptials on September 6.
The owners at Love Tea, LLC prove that teamwork really can “make the dream work.”
To get a taste of what Love Tea, LLC is pouring, visit one of the aforementioned restaurants, or visit their website for the full line of products at http://www.thatlovetea.com.
It’s GOOD. Pinky swear.