Mar 28, 2023
Jennifer Nowicki launched her tea business, Cultivate Taste Tea, out of her passion for tea, which was inspired by her grandmother. As a solo entrepreneur, Jennifer’s leadership in her industry and advice for other women owned businesses is inspiring and motivating. Jennifer also is a Woman of Impact with her donations to Pride and Less Prejudice, supporting LGBTQ kids. Read on to learn more about Jennifer.
I started my business because I am passionate about tea. I have been drinking tea my whole life and it all started with my grandmother.
Why did you start your business? What motivated or inspired you?
I started my business because I am passionate about tea. I have been drinking tea my whole life and it all started with my grandmother. She was a little ahead of her time, drinking green tea in my area and was a strong woman who I admired greatly. She infused her passion for tea into me. Also in my twenties I lived in Seattle and discovered some really great loose leaf teas.
Why did you decide to join The WMarketplace?
I joined WMarketplace because I love the mission and values of this website. I also feel honored to be part of the website with all the lovely businesses that are a part of it.
What has been the most challenging thing about getting your business up and running?
Well I am still mainly a one woman show, so I can not focus on some areas of my business as much as I like.
Can you identify a moment in your business that was pivotal in your success? Have you had an “AHA!” moment(s)?
Probably when I represented the US tea industry in two world tea conferences in China. I was feeling really low and my business was only doing okay. It was great to be in a different environment with other people enamored with tea, and to be spoiled. After that trip, nobody could tell me that I did not know my industry and have me believe it. It is also when my oolong teas started to sell, which made me a very happy person.
Do you have a mentor, formal or informal? What role have they played for you?
I have had a few mentors in my life. The first and probably my most important one to date is my old advisor and teacher in college, Ryan Kauth. He is the one who told me about the Draper Competition that I was a semi-finalist in 2019, about the Babson WIN Cohort, and WBENC. He was the first person to believe in me and he helped build the entrepreneur classes at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.
I think sometimes women are afraid to put their product on the market if it is not perfect. I’m not recommending that you put out a shabby product, but to understand that your product will change as you grow your business.
What communities have been important for you as you grew/developed your business?
Some communities that have helped my business develop and grow are WBENC, WMarketplace, Babson WIN Cohort, Etsy, and my local farmer markets. During COVID I was forced to do online and farmer's markets with Etsy being the best marketplace for me in 2020 and 2021. Although I have only been certified for a year, I have already learned a lot from WBENC and know the connections I will make and the knowledge I have gained will help my business. I have enjoyed being a part of WMarketplace and being part of the gift boxes and being part of a woman centered website.
Do you have items, photos or mementos on your desk that inspire you each day? What are they?
My lanyard from when I represented the US in China because it was a happy time and I needed to go, not just for my business but personally. I also have a silly painted stone with a cute painted cat on it. Not sure why I like it, but I do.
Do you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?
I think sometimes women are afraid to put their product on the market if it is not perfect. I’m not recommending that you put out a shabby product, but to understand that your product will change as you grow your business. You will learn new things that will make your product or packaging better and that is a good thing.
Is there a non-profit or other social/mission-oriented business that your business supports? Can you tell us about this?
I donate to Pride and Less Prejudice because I like their messaging about getting inclusive school books to young kids. Partially so young LGBTQ+ can feel ok and partially for cisgender people to understand there are people who love differently and that is ok. I am personally cisgender but have many friends from childhood who were/are LGBTQ+ that had a hard time growing up and not feeling included.
Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your advice and journey with the WMarketplace!
SHOP cULTIVATE TASTE TEA
Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit TheWMarketplace provides to sellers.