#CanonSmall BusinessHero: Bluebird Tea is brewing up small business success

CanonSmallBusinessHero: Bluebird Tea is brewing up small business success one cup at a time

Our next #CanonSmallBusinessHero is entrepreneur, Krisi Smith, co-founder of Bluebird Tea Co. Read how Krisi and Bluebird tea are taking on an ancient industry and succeeding in the modern day. 

1.    Tell us a bit about your business 

Bluebird Tea Co. is the UK’s expert Tea Mixologists - we create fun, flavourful and innovative tea blends designed to put a smile on your face. Hailing from the sunny shores of Brighton, all of our teas are hand blended in small batches and packed by us from our tea workshop. I founded Bluebird in 2013 with my partner Mike Turner, and since then the company has grown from a back bedroom to three retail stores and a successful website. 

2.    What does your role of co-founder entail? 

For the first year, it was just the two of us, working all day at markets and all night packing tea! Now I focus on the digital and creative elements of the business whilst Mike deals with finance and retail operations - we make a good team! 

3.    Why did you start the business? 

Our name comes from the skiing term ‘Bluebird Day’ which is a perfect day of blue skies and fresh snow. We wanted to create a business that enabled us to spread happiness and create opportunities for people and tea is the (awesome) way we have chosen to do that. 

4.    What’s been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced as a small business? 

We’ve had the usual growing pains of a rapidly expanding business - keeping on top of workloads, making sure we have the right team, etc. We have also struggled for a year or so now to get open in London due to the competitive market, but we hope to solve that challenge really soon! 

5.    What barriers to growth have you experienced? 

We’ve been fortunate to be able to grow the business this far on the back of savings and a start-up loan but to expand further we need more cash - which is a classic challenge many SMBs face. But we are excited to be going into a crowdfund round shortly to fund three more stores this year. 

6.    How digital do you consider your business operations to be? 

Over a third of our business is online through our website - we ship to 64 countries across the globe. We also have a very active community through our social media channels which has helped us spread the word about what we do.
In terms of a digital office, it’s really important that we have the right tools to help facilitate what we do. Our printer, for example, is Wi-Fi enabled which means we can easily print from our mobiles. From basic office admin to label printing and shipping – our printers are always running. 

7.    How much time do you spend on admin? 

I have tried to delegate, but I still spend a fair bit of time on admin, both my own and HR for my team. Probably up to two days a week. 

8.    What’s the one piece of tech you couldn’t live without? 

I couldn’t live without my MacBook - it enables me to get things done on-the-go, as I travel a lot by train between all of the stores. 

9.    If you could give one piece of advice to other small business, what would it be? 

I would say don’t give up, even when it gets really tough and trust yourself and your gut. No one knows your business like you do and although others may be experts in certain fields; it takes someone special to start their own business. 

10.    What does success look like for your business? 

We would love to take Bluebird to more people by getting open on more high streets. If we manage to make 10 x more people happy through tea over the next few years, then I will be a happy person!