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Why I refused to wait until graduation to launch my business

Written by Nina Tovey | Friday, 18 July 2014


Budding entrepreneur and student Kate Dalton shares how her interest in food as medicine led her down an unexpected path.

When Kate Dalton, 25, started applying her knowledge of herbal medicine to create her own herbal teas in her third year of study, a new career opportunity arose which took her by surprise. Her combinations of organic herbs worked so well to ease anxiety and improve digestion she moved to establish her start up business Mayde Tea which quickly attracted stockists across Sydney.

What led you to start Mayde Tea?

Studying alternative medicine opened my eyes to how beneficial herbal medicine is, and has been for thousands of years throughout the world. I started using what I was learning at Endeavour to nourish and heal my body with outstanding effects through making my own tea.

I was pretty excited by the results so I shared my herbal tea creations with friends and family. Their feedback was so positive it gave me the confidence to create a range of teas which heal and nourish the body with the best of nature’s ingredients and herbs.

Before I knew it I was wholesaling Mayde Tea products to cafes and selling directly to consumers through my online store. It is the best thing I have ever done.

How is Mayde Tea different to other herbal tea companies on the market?

Mayde Tea is handmade using 100% organically grown, medicinal grade herbs with no artificial flavours, colours or sweeteners. I use mostly recycled materials for packaging, and it is completely recyclable.

The ingredients we use are wildcrafted, which means they are picked in their natural habitat. I also offer a personalised tea blend option where I create a unique blend specifically for a client’s needs, symptoms and the place they are at in their life. This made sense to me as everyone’s health needs are so different.

How can drinking tea support a person’s health? 

There are so many benefits – from digestion issues to premenstrual syndrome, to low energy, sugar cravings and nervous system modulation. Even for everyday vitality herbal tea is a delicious way to nourish your body and introduce beneficial constituents, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

How did you secure your first few stockists?

I brought my tea into Ruby’s Diner, the café I was managing at the time and was lucky enough to have them come on board as a stockist. From there it was simply word of mouth. I had a few friends who managed cafes in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and the CBD and they also signed up as stockists when they saw how well the products sold. It’s been nice to have the business grow organically this way.

What drew you to study nutritional medicine ?

I was previously working as an assistant and wasn’t very happy in that role. I felt like I was just doing it until I decided what I really wanted to do. I always was interested in nutrition and then I met a wonderful naturopath who healed me from an illness using herbs and nutrition alone. This brought me to the point where I found the confidence to enrol at Endeavour.

What biggest lessons have Mayde Tea taught you?

To be honest I didn’t know much about business previously so it was an extremely steep learning curve. Understanding my legal obligations was the biggest challenge – particularly the insurance requirements and the regulations around the way I marketed the product. I had a friend who was a lawyer who gave me some guidance but I did the majority of research myself which was really satisfying. I actually enjoyed the intense learning process.

What has been your biggest milestone to date?

Being asked to feature my tips for making tea on Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugarblog was a huge honour and resulted in a surge of new social media followers. It has also been lovely to come back to Endeavour this semester and find out many of my fellow students and lecturers had been following Mayde Tea on Instagram without realising I was the creator of the brand. Some had even bought tea from me!

Which is your favourite Mayde Tea blend?

I love to have a pot of my ’serenity’ blend each night before bed – it is a beautiful mixture of rose, passionflower, lavender and chamomile. I love the beautiful, calming affects all four herbs have on the nervous system. I also chose these herbs as they all aid in digestion to assist the absorption and metabolism processes during sleeping.

What are your future plans for Mayde Tea?

I’ll soon be a qualified naturopath, herbalist and nutritionist with my own practice where I’ll definitely be prescribing Mayde Tea blends. I also plan to open a ’Mayde Tea House’ with delicious healthy treats that I prepare myself. There’s no harm in dreaming big!

Mayde Tea from $12 a box

Nina Tovey

Nina Tovey is a public relations expert who has supported a wide range of clients throughout her career, including world leading brands, Government Departments and small-to-medium enterprises. Nina is the founder of public relations consultancy Yoke Communications.

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