Lovina’s story begins in the coziness of her London home during a lockdown birthday celebration. At the end of the dinner party, she made a pot of buckwheat tea – a cherished yet lesser-known beverage - from Japan where she grew up. Drinking buckwheat tea has always been a tradition in her family, where the tea sits in the background while the conversation flows. This time though, the tea became the main subject of discussion. Lovina realized that all her family and friends loved buckwheat tea, otherwise known as Soba Cha, and had always requested that she bring more from Japan. Buckwheat tea is known to help digestion and weight loss and is packed full of antioxidants.
This tea, often overshadowed by its more popular counterparts, held a special place in Lovina's heart. Its rich, nutty flavor, subtle sweetness, and health benefits were unparalleled, yet it remained virtually unknown in the UK market. This was the moment of epiphany for Lovina — a realization that she could introduce this hidden gem to a nation of tea lovers.
Transitioning from the corporate world to entrepreneurship, Lovina plunged into the unknown waters of business. It took a lot of courage, conviction, and diligence to get everything started.
Her quest to find the perfect blend of T. Buckwheat Tea was met with numerous challenges. She recounts the trials of finding the right suppliers, managing logistics, and ensuring product quality.
She ordered tea from all over the world and taste-tested hundreds of samples – until she found the perfect cup of tea.
When it came time to bulk order the tea, she found that the minimum order for her tea with fancy packaging option started at 5000 bags. Of course, this was not realistic for her at the time. She ended up importing 700 bags of tea with humble stickers and paid a premium for the small quantity. Even though the first batch of tea didn’t have the best profit margin, Lovina was determined to keep the prices fair to get the word out there and start getting feedback from her potential customers.
Despite all the hurdles, Lovina’s unwavering commitment to quality led to her first successful batch of tea.
Once Lovina got her first batch of tea, she started looking into distribution channels. She has tapped into traditional retail by introducing buckwheat tea into healthy/organic independent food stores such as Village Wholefoods in Clapham Common and The Haelan Centre in North London, and even larger more premium stores such as Selfridges on Oxford Street. She has joined fairs, and events, and even won the UK-accredited Great Taste Award for T. Buckwheat Tea.
The journey of T. Buckwheat Tea took a significant turn when Lovina chose Shopify for her online storefront. She praises the platform's intuitiveness and simplicity, making it a perfect ally for entrepreneurs venturing into e-commerce. Shopify's easy setup and efficient management tools allowed Lovina to focus on her passion — bringing the best of Buckwheat Tea to her customers.
Understanding customer preferences and adapting to their feedback became the linchpin of Lovina's strategy. At first, she started getting verbal feedback at fairs and events. Then she implemented automated email via Klaviyo with a feedback form but found that the reply rate was low. This is where Gojiberry stepped in, transforming her approach to customer engagement. Through post-purchase surveys integrated seamlessly into Shopify, Lovina gained valuable insights in a timely manner, helping her refine product offerings and marketing strategies. Her survey response rate increased to as much as 30%! This tool became indispensable in understanding and responding to customer needs effectively.
The impact of customer feedback was enormous. For instance, a good number of her customers have gluten allergies, and the word “buckwheat” can be misleading to the average consumer. In fact, buckwheat tea does not contain wheat or gluten! Knowing that, Lovina started putting “gluten-free” labels on both product and website.
Through customer feedback, she also learned that a good number of eco-conscious customers are against buying tea that contains plastic tea bags. This led her to change her tea bags from plastic to corn fiber - which is completely biodegradable.
Armed with customer insights from Gojiberry, Lovina devised targeted marketing campaigns, significantly boosting her brand's reach and appeal.
For instance, she thought that Google advertising was costing a lot of money and was on the verge of turning it off, when she discovered through Gojiberry’s marketing attribution survey that most of her customers actually came from Google cpc search!
Through Gojiberry, she learned which channels her customers preferred, how they discovered her tea and their overall experience. This intelligence guided her in making informed decisions, from product tweaks to advertising strategies, ensuring T. Buckwheat Tea resonated with her audience.
Lovina's aspirations for T. Buckwheat Tea are grounded yet ambitious. She dreams of making her brand synonymous with Buckwheat Tea globally while maintaining a focused product line. She is on a mission to make Buckwheat Tea a widely known household product.
Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is heartfelt and practical — embrace risks, learn from setbacks, and relish the journey. Lovina's story is a testament to the power of perseverance and vision.
Lovina's journey from a tea enthusiast to a successful entrepreneur is a compelling narrative of passion, resilience, and strategic use of technology. The story of T. Buckwheat Tea, enhanced by Gojiberry's insights, offers valuable lessons for Shopify store owners looking to make an impact. It's a tale of transforming a simple idea into a thriving business, all while staying true to one's roots and values.
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