Beverage trends come and go, but tea is the most widely consumed beverage globally, next to water. It is big business with a lot of small business players. Today, Christine McKay sits down with Brenda Sterling Meyers, a master blender and the Founder and CEO of Sterling Tea®. Brenda shares her journey from selling to big grocers to creating her path in the industry focused on blending. She shares key takeaways from the lessons she learned from her logistics and shipping experiences and how to manage supply chain risk as a small business owner. Whether you love tea or not, you’ll want to hear Brenda’s fantastic insights.   

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Carving a Path on Terms that Work for Her with Brenda Sterling Meyers

I’m always excited about my guests because I’m very picky about who I like to bring on the show. I am excited to have with me, Brenda Sterling Meyers. Brenda is the Founder and CEO of Sterling Tea. As many of you know, I am a diehard tea drinker. I have been making loose leaf tea every morning for the past years from the same Japanese cast iron pot that my dear friend, Barrie Dunsmore, gave me many years ago. Tea is a fascinating business.

Gary Vaynerchuk once said that if somebody can figure out how to do what he did for wine on the internet but with tea, they’re going to make a killing. Tea is wonderfully complex, there are many different varieties. The business of tea is a fascinating business because it’s agriculture on one level, but you’ve got the wholesale component and the retail component. I wanted to bring to you Brenda so we could sit and talk about the tea business and how she has negotiated throughout her time in the business. Brenda, welcome. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to spend with us. We appreciate it. Tell us a little bit about how you got here. How did you decide to launch a tea business?

It started years ago in my kitchen and my children were little. I love tea. It was something I drank, something I enjoyed, something I had always loved since I was a child. I never thought of it as a business until one day I did. I was helping somebody plan an event. It was a bridal shower. I was like, “Let’s do a tea party.” I went online and I was looking up how to have a tea party. I’m looking at it and I’m like, “This is a business.” I had always dabbled in making some blends that I liked. I thought, “Let me make some blends and see what I can do.” It so happened I had some friends and I was helping put together this little Christmas event. I took my teas to the Christmas event and I set up a booth. I had six teas. I printed my own labels, set them out, poured people tea, and showcased them in a little tin like I still do now so they can see how pretty the leaves were.

I’m in a small town in Texas. It’s not so small but many years ago, it was a small town. People looked at it and they’re like, “What is this?” They had no clue. If it wasn’t Lipton or sweet tea, they had no idea. In fact, they looked at my white tea, which is really leafy and it has buds. Someone asked me, “Is that marijuana? What is that?” I’m like, “I can’t believe that nobody knows about the beauty, luxury and wonderfulness of loose leaf tea. I need to teach everybody.” I thought about it for a long time and I decided, “I’m going to see if I can start a little tea business just for fun, just for my community.” Sterling Tea was born in October of 2005.

I opened up a tea shop. I had bought a little old 1916 house and I put a tea shop in there. I started creating blends with the customers that would come in. When I first opened, nobody came. Then I started going and speaking at little free events and doing more of those farmer’s markets. Pretty soon I started getting a little following of people like you who love tea or they wanted to learn more. I started to have tea one-on-one courses in my shop and tea tasting classes. I got into the education of it. I started making more blends, people would test them and then this would be at my blend.

A restaurant approached me locally that was opening up and said, “Would you make us an iced tea?” I made them a blackcurrant. From there, I started getting the bug, “If I’m going to grow, I need businesses to sell tea.” From there, I started making tea for restaurants. I started doing blending for other tea companies, coffee shops. I got distribution, went through the whole grocery thing for a while. Now, we have hundreds of customers and we make tea for businesses who serve and sell their brand with. We partner with them. We make their tea for them. We white label it and then they serve it and sell it to their guests under their own name. I love doing that.

If you do anything long enough, there's going to be good and bad. Accept the bad ones, moving forward. Click To Tweet

When I meet people, one of the things that I like to do is send people a note card with Forget Me Not Tea. Maybe I do a tea packet or I do something with tea. Both of them are very pristine. That’s awesome. You went through a lot of things. Going back to the conversations we had before, we want to talk about the things that you negotiate. Your response was, “I don’t really negotiate.” I get a lot of this from small businesses. Then you talked about how you do blending, you sell the businesses, you were in stores, you have distribution. It sounds to me like there might be a fair amount of negotiation in all that. Tell us a little bit about that.

We’re headquartered in California, and California has a Cottage Industry Law on the books. What that allows people to do is to create food-based businesses out of their home with less regulation, then be able to sell it into stores and restaurants with different labeling requirements than you’d have if you were a larger organization. How did you decide what stores to go into? What was that process? What was important to you as you were thinking about that? What made you change directions? Are you still in stores?

I still am in grocery stores but it’s not my focus. I don’t enjoy it as much honestly. Here’s what I did. I didn’t stay in my kitchen for very long because I opened up the tea shop and immediately, I went and got a manufacturing. First, you get your Food Service License from the city so that you can do things like sell to retail customers, people that are going to drink the tea. When I started doing the business, I’m a rule follower, so I right away got the Department of Health Manufacturing License, FDA. I did all the things I needed to do, so I was doing it right, but I never did the Cottage part. We can do that here in Texas but I never went that route. I went from kitchen very quickly to where I needed to make it so it’s legitimate, and I followed the rules. When I first started going into businesses, aside from the local restaurants like the tea shop, the pizza place and some of the places that came to me, I knew that it was going to be difficult. I did not like doing this but to get my confidence, I would go in and do a percentage share, “I’ll put this on your shelf and if it sells, we’ll do a 70/30 split.” I forget what you call it.

It’s a revenue share.

It was a share where they didn’t have to pay for the product until it was sold. That doesn’t work well with food. I decided quickly, “I don’t want to do that anymore.” I think I did it with one or two stores and I’m like, “No.” I got a showroom at the Dallas World Trade Center and at the Atlanta Gift Mart. That helped me get into stores. I did that for years. That’s where businesses come and they supply their stores. I had a showroom there until 2017 and in Atlanta until 2012. I kicked off my business doing it that way. I learned a lot from other small business owners just like me how to sell to these stores. I made a lot of friends in my industry, not just tea but all types of foods, and figured it out. I thank goodness for the people that I met because they helped me so much learn and understand because I did not have a blueprint when I started, so I winged it and said, “I’m going to do this.” I’m watching these people do this and I think I can do that too. That’s how it started with me.

As far as getting into grocery stores, I’m in Whole Foods and Central Market. That was them reaching out to me because they wanted to work locally and they want to be able to tout local, but I found my niche. What I do now is my favorite thing and that’s creating the blends, helping other companies achieve success, serving and selling their brand to their customers. Let’s face it. Everybody likes their own name behind you. Sterling Tea is great in Texas but when we get outside of Texas, it’s like, “Can I put my name on it?” I’m like, “Go ahead. I don’t care. I just want to sell tea.” That partnership has created these relationships with my customers that I love. I love to hear their successes and to know that my little piece of making their teas for them has brought more customers and more raving fans into their stores. I love to hear, “They love that tea.” I’m like, “Good. Let’s do more of that.”

IVZ 6 | Tea Business
Tea Business: When you go directly from the plantation to your warehouse, there are some things you need to know that nobody tells you until bad things happen.

 

That was something that we started talking about a little bit when we talk about negotiation styles. You are a modern benefactor. That desire to have relationship is a natural thing for you. You were talking about when you find somebody that you connect with, that you like to work with, you will stay with them. You’re not the person who switches suppliers and jumped ships based on price. You stick with somebody and you develop a deeper loyal relationship. Do you have any examples of when that hasn’t worked for you when something went wrong in a relationship like that and you had to make a change, or has all the relationships that you’ve been able to build over the years worked out the way that you had hoped?

Unfortunately, yes. If you do anything long enough, there’s going to be good and bad. I’d love to talk more about the good ones but I will mention one off the top of my head. It was a company that was based out of Germany. I was working with his company but I looked at the person who I’m dealing with. He was the president and we worked together very well. One time, a product was sent to us that had bugs in it. This happens sometimes because I buy a lot of organic products. What will happen is they’ll ship the product over and there might be some eggs in there. It only takes a couple eggs to hatch. It makes me sick.

I have this huge freezer that all my stuff goes in. It’s nobody’s fault and nobody wants to take the blame. What happens is I get stuck. I have this relationship with this company where they brought the stuff over from Germany. Right away we looked at the bag and we’re like, “Get that out of the warehouse.” I called my vendor who I’d been working with for years and explained it to him. He said, “I will take care of it. Ship it all back to me.” The whole shipping issue became a problem. It went from, “I will take care of you. I will make this right,” to maybe he lost money on the deal or something happened. It was a negative transaction. When it was all said and done, we couldn’t work together anymore. It’s so unfortunate because I liked him but he didn’t do what he said. We parted ways, I moved on. It was after years of working. That was sad and I still feel bad about that whole thing.

I had another issue where I bought some stuff out of Egypt. The stuff came and it was completely infested. It never even made it into the warehouse. I made the shipping company take it away. They claimed no responsibility and the shipping company claimed no responsibility. I had to pay the shipping. I had already paid for half the product. My only option with them was, “I can’t work with you ever again.” That was my first time working with them. I didn’t have a relationship I trusted. Those two instances make me ask questions even before, “How do you look at your product? How do you know there are no bugs? What procedures do you put into place?” These are not things that I understood because when I started purchasing, I was purchasing small quantities through several hands. When you go directly from the plantation to your warehouse, there are some things you definitely need to know that nobody tells you until bad things happen.

That goes to what we talked about in terms of what you negotiate. As many of the readers know, my view is price generally, not 100% at the time, should be an output of your negotiation because it’s the assumptions that go into your relationship that get you to price. What you’re describing is that things that transpire in from going from plantation. If you’ve never been to see plantation, I got to go to one in Indonesia on the island of Java. It’s pretty darn cool to go to a plantation. What happens from the time that leaves the plantation to the time of shipping, and when you have whether it was agricultural product so you can have bugs and all sorts of other things that happen, if you buy hard products, you can have defects that are in the production. You’re going to have failure rates in terms of how things get installed. That’s a huge thing.

What happens in shipping when you get something that’s defective? Who owns that cost? How much product are you willing to accept before you start penalizing your supplier? If you have 3 shipments or 10 shipments, and 10% of it is defective, then you should be negotiating in your contracts to have compensation come back to you as a result of that high defect rate. Identify some key questions to ask suppliers, whether they’re existing previous suppliers that you’ve had good relationships with or new suppliers. How have you applied those lessons from those negative experiences to the business going forward?

Don't do business with somebody who won't stand behind their product. Click To Tweet

I have my choice now to take my money elsewhere. I know which products I have to watch because of time. Many years of doing this, I know what to look for. We have our own systems in place at our warehouse that I had to learn, what to look for, the questions to ask before I even make the purchase, and with the full knowledge that I won’t do business with somebody that won’t stand behind their product. There are enough people out there that want my business. I get an email every day from someone in China, from LinkedIn constantly, but I stick with my guys. I want to do a positive one because I have a gentleman I work with in China. His name is David and I was texting with him.

What I love about him is he appreciates our relationship and he’s so good at communicating with me about everything that’s going on from what’s happening over in China country-wise with COVID, and all that, to the shipping rates and the dollar. I can tell he appreciates working with me. We’ve been working together for years. I met him at a trade show. He was in a line of 30 other companies from China. When I walked down each of them and talk to each of them because I was trying to decide where I wanted to import from, he stood out in my conversation with him and we bonded. To me, relationship is extremely important because I have to be able to trust when I have something coming over from another country that they will stand behind it, and he has. Unfortunately, we haven’t had this problem too often. We have way more success than issues, which I’m happy about.

I would say that putting systems in place and asking, “How do you handle your materials organic? How do you keep from infestations?” I’m doing the same thing in Canada. I’m working with a company in Canada that flies their product in from Egypt because I didn’t want to go direct from Egypt anymore. I didn’t feel comfortable. We have a middle ground of a company that we use out of Canada. It’s Egypt to Canada, Canada to me. I’m able to let him know this is the experience I had and this cannot happen.

With him, I don’t pay him until 30 days, then I’m completely happy with the product. It works out because what I do, I get the product in. We watch it for 10, 5 days. He gets paid way before 30 days. I make sure that when I am happy that they get their money right away, “Here you go. Thank you so much.” I think that creates the next time we order together. We’re working together on a new deal and he’s happy too. He knows I’m going to take care of him. I pay it. I pay fast. I pay on time. I don’t mess with people when it comes to money. It’s like, “You’re giving me a good product, you’re going to get paid for it.” I don’t do the 100% upfront stuff anymore, unless it’s with the credit card.

If you haven’t read the interview with Mark McShurley, who is the Cofounder of a company called Roofsimple, you talked about something that he also talked about that I think is important. As small business owners, sometimes we get tied up in the contract. We’ve got a contract that’s got delivery terms, payment terms and all these things. In Mark’s case, it was a different situation. They got overextended in their business and they owed their supplier of roofing materials almost $800,000 and couldn’t pay it. He was able to secure a loan from his supplier. What he did is the repayment contract was over a certain period of time and you had to pay once a month. What he did is every single week, he sent them money and a detailed explanation of where the business was at.

That’s what you’re talking about too. It’s like, “We have this arrangement. My deal with them, my contract, informal or formal, is net 30 but if I get the product and it passes my quality assurance tests, then I’m going to pay them as soon as it passes the quality assurance tests.” When he realized that he couldn’t pay in the time that he had originally agreed, they’re like, “That’s fine. We can extend the time because he had done such a great job building such great relationship.” Just like you with your supplier in Canada, you’ve done such a great job of building that relationship because you’re not holding out and just living by the contract and recognizing where they are at as well. Thirty days is a long time for any small business.

Tea Business: What will make people want to work with someone smaller versus the big guys is the relationship.

 

I don’t know why bigger companies get away with that. There’s a big box company out there that I understand sometimes doesn’t pay for hundreds of days.

One hundred and eighty days is common in the consumer-packaged goods world and in the big box retail space.

I don’t work with people like that. I don’t even want to. I know some people say, “You should take those big contracts.” I’m like, “I don’t want to.” I’m happy that I get to choose who I work with. I don’t choose to work with these big box companies and throw my product in there, and then pray that I’ll get paid. Then I’ll use all my money up over here so I can’t help the people that are paying me on time or upfront. I’m a small business. I’m working with companies like my China connection and my India connection, they both work with humongous companies way bigger than me. That’s part of the reason I took them on too is because I feel confident that if XYZ is buying from you, then I felt good that you’ve got good product. It’s just the relationship.

What will make them want to work with someone with me being smaller versus just saying, “I’m going to work with the big guys, the end. What do I do differently? I pay quick and I have the potential for growth.” A smart business owner is going to say, “I’m going to work with them. They’re paying me timely. They’re nice. They’re easy to get along with and they could possibly get really big.” They’re banking on that. I make them feel that way because I tell them what we’re doing and where we’re going. My orders would get a little bigger and bigger, but my orders get bigger with them because I trust them more, not necessarily because I started small. I plan that. They see growth with Sterling Tea and they see that we’ve got this partnership. I pay them on time without any issue. If you’re smart, you work with me because I’ll do that with you.

What you did is you describe classic negotiation. I did a presentation and the woman who was hosting the event walked away and she goes, “I learned one important thing. I learned that I need to think about my counterpart.” I was like, “Good for you because relationship is such a critical component to how you’ve grown your business. It’s a natural thing for you to think about relationship. It’s not natural for everybody to think the way that you do but you walked through classic negotiation.” My counterpart has this business. This is what their business looks like. A huge percentage of their business is coming from big companies. Big companies behave in this way when they buy tea. They take a long time to pay. They’re more demanding. They incur additional costs because they demand faster shipping. They siphon off a huge percentage of the product at a certain level before other people get it. They’ve got all these different things that they go through. You sit and say, “I can’t compete with that. How do I carve out a space for myself that makes me relevant and important to my supplier?”

I do a lot of David and Goliath negotiation is what I call it. I work with a lot of small businesses who are negotiating with large companies as either suppliers or with customers. This is an important point. As a small business owner, you have to figure out what’s important to your counterpart so that you can make that space for yourself, make yourself different, make yourself stand up so that that customer or that supplier wants to work with you. You did that in a natural way. You pay faster because big companies take forever. The other thing is that you also are clear. We talk a lot when we’re in our programs and stuff around the importance of getting clarity on what it is that you want. You’re very clear on, “I do not want to work in this type of situation. I do not want to work with this type of client.” Did you have a process that you went through to get to that level of clarity? It took fifteen years. It took a long time to get there. What are some of the lessons that you learned or things that you did along the way to get that clarity because you are clear on who your customers are?

Pay on time. Don't mess with people when it comes to money. Click To Tweet

When you get knocked down and you say that happened and that’s never going to happen again, that’s what happened to me. I got taken advantage of early on with a grocery store, and that’s what left a bad taste in my mouth about grocery stores. I’ve been taken advantage of, I’m not going to get into it any more than it taught me a valuable lesson of taking my time, investing it in X and not doing Y. When I started realizing what was happening, I’m like, “I put all my eggs in this basket. I shouldn’t have done that.” I do two things differently. I don’t want anybody to have 50% of my time in my business. At this point, talking about customers, I’m choosing the type of customers I like to work with the most.

It’s really easy for me. It’s like, “Are you into it? Do you like tea?” I have some customers who get into tea simply because it’s the hot thing and they don’t even like tea. I was like, “What are you doing? You don’t even know anything about it.” I’m starting a tea training program for that reason because there are businesses that want to get into tea, they just don’t understand it like you do. You get burned by certain types of companies or you’ve watched friends get burned. I’ve had friends in this industry. I made a lot of friends when I was at those different shows. I saw people get wiped out by the big box companies. I’m like, “That’s not going to happen to me. I’m not doing that.”

I think that’s where it comes from, maybe a little fear. I like to do what I know and I’ll build my business that way. It might take a little longer, which it did, but I got time and I get to enjoy my customers that I’d like to work with. There are people that are into their product that love their customers and that treat my employees nicely. That’s important to me because if I’ve got a customer that is rude, that is obnoxious, it doesn’t work. You need to be polite. Talk to me if you got an issue. I will fix it. My customers know that. There will be no problems. Even if it costs me a little bit, it brings me way more pleasure to take care of the issue. There’s no reason to be rude or upset. It doesn’t happen often in the tea world but it can. I like to work with people that are into what they’re doing, love their customers, and have that passion to provide a great product.

A lot of people, especially with small businesses that are working with large companies, they get this Marquee Syndrome is what I call it, “I get this marquee account, this big brand and I can use the logo,” which you can almost never use a logo. Usually, big companies don’t let small businesses have that relationship. If you are lucky to have that, you are fortunate, but most of the time that doesn’t happen. People are like, “If I get this big account, then everything else will fall into place.” Those big accounts are super demanding. They will rip you to shreds on price because their procurement people are skilled at beating people down on price. Not only are you lowering your profit margin, but you’re increasing your costs. You’re not only lowering your margin in terms of what you’re selling at, but you’re also increasing your costs because they’re going to want faster delivery time. They’re going to want preferential treatment. They’re going to ask you to change how you do customer service. They may tell you to change how you’re hiring people and the type of people that you can hire.

It is astonishing to me that people can go into these big relationships without having clear understanding of what the impact of them is. People will say, “Why is knowing my customer important from a negotiation perspective?” Everyone thinks, “You’ve got to know that from a marketing perspective,” but you also need to know from a negotiation perspective because it’s where you find options. For you having that lesson early in your business, it gave you information that allowed you to understand what your other options were. Was it going to take you longer? Yes, but as you said, you had time. That’s an important factor. The audience doesn’t underestimate the importance of having clarity on who your customer is because it drives how you negotiate on the backend. It makes a huge difference in terms of your overall profit margin.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to take on a huge customer right away. I think you need to build because in the case of what happened to me in 2013, I gave my all to this particular grocery store. I was doing demos, I was all over. All my day was spent and I didn’t cultivate the other businesses. I was focused on the growth and I thought, “This is the way to go. This is what I want to do.” When I would meet with the manager, the one that was the buyer, he would make comments like, “All you vendors are like bugs or mosquitoes.” It’s condescending. What’s that syndrome when you think you’re a king or something?

IVZ 6 | Tea Business
Tea Business: Choose the type of customers that you like to work with the most.

 

A narcissist? I don’t know what it is.

I have to put up with it for a while but then I was thinking, “This is not the way I wanted. This is not the kind of people I want to be around all the time.” The people in the stores were nice. What I learned when that relationship was separated, that was 2013, and in 2014, I flat lined. Fortunately, it wasn’t all my business. It was a big part of my business which caused me not to grow for one year but I took that whole year and developed, “What kind of customers do I want? Who do I want to work with long-term?” I went from that way. Within a year, it was like I never lost that business. From there, it just grew. Every day after that, I look at my numbers and my customers and said, “Who’s dominating me? Where do I need to correct that?” It helps you grow more because if you come from the mindset, “We’re doing a lot of business over here, so I need to pick some business up over here,” business grow. The byproduct of that is, “I think in a certain way but it’s not like I’m losing this stuff. I’m just growing more of this type of business.”

For publicly-traded companies, they have to disclose in their financial statements if a customer represents a huge percentage of their revenue because that introduces risk. When you have a big marquee account and you’re suffering from Marquee Syndrome, when you put all your eggs in one or two baskets or even three, and 80%, 90% of your revenue is coming from them, then you’ve introduced a risk into your business that becomes difficult to manage, especially as a small business owner. You don’t have a lot of control and influence over that large entity and they’re always looking for ways to replace you. No matter how great your relationship is with a big company, they’re always talking to your competition. They’re always trying to get better prices. Can they get the product faster? Whatever it is that they’re trying to do. If you think otherwise, I would challenge you to ask questions in a different way to test whether your assumption is true, or whether or not what Brenda and I are talking about is true in your market. I’d say 95% of the time what Brenda and I are describing is the way that it plays out. That puts you at risk long-term and maybe even short-term in your own business.

I’ll give you a great example. I’m very food service dominant. I have three major customers that are different. Two of them are franchises and one is a coffee distributor. All of them were neck and neck last year 2020. Because of COVID, one of them dropped down significantly because they lost a bunch of their business. It was the coffee distributor. He was distributing to a bunch of restaurants a lot. They would distribute their coffee and our tea as our brand together. They would sell it to the store and to the restaurants. A lot of the restaurants closed and so they could no longer sell. They’re trying to correct now and get new business, but I saw a 50% drop which pushed the other two up a little higher than them lower. I noticed that had I only had them and not the other two, I could have been in much bigger trouble than I was. My numbers went down a little bit but not like they could have because the other two companies were holding their own. That’s another reason because you never know when you’re going to have a pandemic.

Last year 2020, we spent a lot of time restructuring leases for restaurants and retail stores, negotiating with their landlords. You’ll never know. It was interesting to see in the real estate space who survived, who didn’t, and how real estate companies dealt with them. It affects every business. If you’d have these one or two marquee accounts, you’re held hostage to them, and their business suffers, then what do you do? It becomes this chain reaction, which we’re seeing throughout the supply chain where there is this chain reaction.

Last fall 2020, I attended an event. I was a co-host for the event. We talked about the supply chain. We talked about the issues related to COVID plus tariffs, and what that meant product was sitting in the Harbor in Los Angeles, sitting on ships. They started charging storage fees in the shipping industry because big ships were sitting in the Harbor for a week at a time. The port of Los Angeles had its busiest year on record. What happened, and this was very much a negotiation component, is that product came in and big companies got it. Smaller companies were left going, “Where’s my product?” but because of their contracts, the larger organizations got it first. Whether it’s in a supply chain or whether it’s your customer base, having that diversity in your supplier base and in your customers makes a difference, and that impacts your ability to negotiate going forward. Brenda, this has been amazing. I’ve enjoyed this conversation. How can people find you? I think you said you had something for our readers too.

I have 3 Tips to a Perfect Cup of Tea. It’s some best practices when you’re making tea. It’s basically tea, time and temperature. It’s a little report and you can get it. It’s on our website. If you go onto our website, SterlingTea.com, it will be a little box that pops up that you can subscribe and get this little download or you can go to SterlingTea.com/teatips. Either way, you could come to our site. We have a lot of different tea blends and all the categories: black, green, white, oolong, hibiscus, rooibos, some herbals like you are enjoying like the lemon grass. We got a lot of that. If you visit SterlingTea.com, you can get that little report and maybe enjoy some tea. There’s a 10% off discount coupon out there too.

Thank you very much. I appreciate that. I hope the readers will definitely go to the website. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. I am enjoying my Sterling Tea now. Thank you very much. Everybody who’s reading, we appreciate you reading all of our episodes. We can’t wait to see you next time. Remember that negotiation is nothing more than a conversation about a relationship, and you cannot win a relationship. Thanks very much, everyone. We’ll see you next time. Have a great day.

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 About Brenda Sterling Meyers

IVZ 6 | Tea Business

Brenda Sterling Meyers is the founder and President of Sterling Tea where she is also a master tea blender.

• She was born and raised in Michigan and after graduating from Michigan State University she headed down to Texas where she met and married her husband Stuart of 26 years and raised her 2 sons, Sterling and Caleb.

• She started her tea business, in her kitchen and opened her first tea shop 15 years ago in her hometown and Rockwall Texas.

• Sterling Tea is one of only a handful of specialty tea blenders in Texas

• It has become a thriving US tea importing and manufacturing company.

• Sterling Tea blends over 200 teas and herbs helping hundreds of food service companies serve and sell an even better cup of premium loose-leaf tea to their customers.

• Their customers include restaurants, cafes and upscale retailers throughout the US, as well as nonprofit organizations such as Meals on Wheels and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

• Brenda is also the author of “Ease of Tea” to help tea lovers enjoy a perfect cup of tea every day!