Lovettsville’s Peter and Sarah Roussos are nationally recognized and trained Tea specialists.
Sarah was a contributing business and trend columnist for Tea Room Magazine where she got to meet and interview tea cognoscenti and celebrities including top chefs.
“This was a great help,” Sarah said, “so I could understand what made the difference.”
Legend has it that tea drinking started with the Chinese Emperor, Shan Nong, in 2737 BC.
When boiling his drinking water, as was the Emperor’s custom, tea leaves fell into his boiling water, resulting in a pleasing aroma, and the resulting brew the Emperor found refreshing and energizing.
This historic leaf has recently become a means to ease the troubled way of the retired warrior, of our veterans. But this takes more than the tea. It takes some TLC and business sense.
Bonnie Sload Tyrrell, of Building Veterans, seeks the help from partners to permit vets struggling with personal issues and addiction, with PTSD, with head and brain trauma, and depression, so that these challenged vets may live in housing, get training and find work.
Bonnie was born at the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia. Her father, MSgt. G. A. Sload, served in the USMC for over 20 years. Bonnie said, “I started fundraising to help vets on my own back in 2010, the year Rob Jones was injured. Rob was from Lovettsville so we needed to honor him in some way, for his service.”
Last October, Sandra Tucker, who teaches marketing at Rock Ridge High School was in Denise Berg’s Lovettsville shop, the Painted Pig, discussing how student entrepreneurship might help veterans.
Sandra said, “Our first plan was that our students would meet with some veterans and instruct them in social media. And then we got with Bonnie, and discussed how to partner with Building Veterans and with Sarah, whom we call affectionately, ‘the tea lady.’ So, we joined forces with the green alchemist.”
Sarah helped the students develop their own brand of tea.
Sandra said, “We taught our students how to be entrepreneurs treating Sarah’s skill as a critical resource. The students who headed up this project are Olivia Grant, Paul Donahue, and Emmie Poole. They were terrific – and we learned from each other. Another teacher who worked with us on this wonderful project was Ben Stodola.”
Thus, Sarah created a tea for the veterans.
Sandra, who has been teaching marketing for 18 years, said, “We run a school store – at our High School – spirit apparel – as in ‘school spirit’ – and our directive is to put the customer first. We are customer-centric, focused on service, good service. Of course, not only are we selling out of the school store, Denise is also selling the tea out of her shop. Her shop is customer-centric and many varied and responsive to the community’s will and appetite.”
“This is about giving back to veterans,” Sandra said, “to sell tea through our store and the Painted Pig. Sarah gets us the tea. Our students design the label, Denise prints it, the students apply the label. It’s an ensemble production. We now have a two tea brand, ‘Rock and Relax’ (think decaf), and ‘Rise and Shine’ (think fully caffeinated). We’ve taken a tea we’ve created and we’ve donate the proceeds from selling the tea to Building Veterans. That’s a success story all around.”
Denise said, “What I love about this effort is bringing together the students to work with the veterans to create a wonderful product that the community will enjoy and it’s to the benefit of the veterans.”
It’s of a class of good business plans like what actor Paul Newman did, with his culinary creations, when he sold high quality food and donated the profits – taking nothing for himself – and giving to others.
This combine of eager students, guided by instruction, coordinating with existing businesses, is a success story in business and community good will toward our vets.
These student entrepreneurs have provided a worthy product for the general public and the profits they’ve earned are not going to the individual entrepreneurs who made the business go but to help to cover the price our vets paid by helping to make them whole again.
Now that’s an exceptionally good business plan! We could use more of this.