Creating artisanal tea in Byron Bay sounds about as idyllic as it gets. For Kate Dalton, it took a lot of hard work to get there.
Kate started sending with Sendle in February, 2017, and within a year, was sending enough to upgrade to our high-volume Pro plan.
Where might you be in one year? We caught up with the talented founder and naturopath to unpack the why's and how's of Mayde Tea.
How did Mayde Tea get started?
It came about when I was a very busy, very poor student almost five years ago. I was studying naturopathy and nutrition and managing a café in Bondi when my obsession with herbal tea slowly became my full-time gig.
I started experimenting with herbs, using them for my own health issues I was struggling with. I spent a ridiculous percentage of my wage adding to my personal tea collection and I continued to search for a product that truly resonated with me as a health and environmentally-conscious person.
I was really surprised by the amount of tea on the shelves that were packaged in copious amounts of plastic (the enemy) and contained non-organic ingredients.
I’ve always loved fonts, branding and packaging ‒ so I wanted to create my own products that were honestly good for your health, a range that included blends with different therapeutic actions and produced in a way that had minimal impact on the environment.
What steps did you take to turn it from an idea into a fully fledged enterprise?
I had to learn a LOT! To be honest, apart from what comes with managing a café, I had no business-related experience. I knew I was really good at formulating herbal tea blends. I was a bit naive thinking that’s all a herbal tea business would entail.
I’ve since learned so much [about the] logistics involved in the biz world ‒ from product development, dispatch, customer service, accounting, managing cash flow, importing etc. I basically asked a lot of questions to the right people and spent a heap of time researching.
I still have a lot to learn. We actually do very minimal marketing which I’m going to invest some time into. I love overseeing the entire business. Although I have staff and outsource the majority of the roles, I love to learn about it all just in case I ever need to step in.
I never thought I’d be a business owner. Playing with herbs five years ago just seemed like a nice way to work close to nature ‒ but I wouldn’t change a thing.
What makes a great cup of tea?
Good quality ingredients and the absence of a teabag. Teabags are often laced in bleaches and other yucky chemicals ‒ they tend to have glue holding it together. So not only does it impact the flavour, those surprise chemicals aren’t great for your health once they leach into the water.
If ingredients have been grown organically, it means they’ve had a lot more love and care in their cultivation. Organic herbs have much better flavour, higher therapeutic properties and are much better for your endocrine, nervous, digestive and reproductive systems.
What are your main challenges?
I guess the only challenge is within myself ‒ being able to fully switch off and adopt a healthy work/life balance. I think that’s common for business owners.
It’s because I love my job so much and I care about it almost too much to ever stop thinking about it. I’m getting better at balancing it all though. I think you need to learn to work on the business rather than be in it full-time to allow growth.
With 23k followers, Instagram is obviously a key platform for you. Is it something you spend much time on?
I don’t, really! I think I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. I’m so pedantic about how my page looks but finding content is so hard sometimes. Luckily, I do Mayde Tea, my naturopathy and our retail space on the same account so I’ve got it pretty easy in terms of coming up with appropriate content.
I try to spend no more than 30 minutes a day posting a photo or two and replying to comments.
What are the benefits of using a carbon-neutral courier? Why is that important to you?
I’m not going to lie, when I found out about Sendle, I was so excited. Mostly because we really pride ourselves on being super environmentally-conscious, which adds to my workload but it’s totally worth it.
In the past I’ve even gone to the extreme of calling all of my suppliers and asking them not to use plastic when sending herbs to us.
How does Sendle's integration with WooCommerce make life easier for you?
It saves us about one minute per order, which is huge.
Manually putting in the address was time-consuming and also increased the chance of error, which meant parcels getting lost ‒ the worst thing ever! It now seamlessly takes our shipping address from new orders, we print the label with a DYMO label printer and Sendle automatically removes it from the open orders.
We all know how a smooth, uninterrupted system makes running a business that little bit sweeter.
Your business has grown substantially in just a few years. How has Sendle helped you scale?
We offer free shipping on our website, so postage is a huge expense for us. Sendle’s shipping rates are really competitive and, sending out the huge volumes we do, it becomes even more so on our plan. In that way, we save some pennies and put them toward growing the business.
We have such a streamlined dispatch process now, so having shipping labels printed easily and all of our tracking numbers easy to access, we save so much time. All that time saved is money we can put into product development.
You’re based in Byron Bay ‒ any hidden gems you’d recommend to visitors?
- The Minyon Falls Loop is my favourite bush walk!
- Doma Café in Federal is the best Japanese you’ll ever eat.
- Mayde Space is our cute shop with the Mayde Tea range and complimentary health + lifestyle products.
- Aleshia Marie is someone you must get a massage from. She’s amazing!
- St Agni is our favourite local clothing and footwear brand. They’re dangerously located basically next door to our shop.
Big plans for 2018?
Within Mayde Tea there’s lots. I’m developing two new blends to launch this year, and we’re creating something that’s not at all tea-related, but those products are a secret for now.
We’re doing a smallish rebrand at the moment which is going to look really fresh and beautiful. And on the horizon for me personally: opening a naturopathy or multi-modality clinic is my next goal, but we’ll see.
Your main takeaway from today:
Optimisation is key. One minute per order may not seem like much in isolation, but when your orders start to ramp up, 200 minutes equates to 3 hours. Imagine just finding an extra 3 hours in the week - what would you do with it? Kate spends her time on product development, but the list is endless. Think of the cumulative reward, not the standalone one.
The Sendle Team
Images courtesy of Kate Dalton from Mayde Tea.