Originally written on September 6th, 2019:
Cooler weather is coming, which means so are changing leaves, football, camp fires and curling up with hot cups of tea. 🍂 🏈 🔥 ☕️
This week's #FridayProfile is the founder of Embrew Tea Products, which specializes in making artisan, sweetened tea bags. Meet Ashley Haywood '04:
Name: Ashley Haywood
Grad Year: 2004
Major: Graphic Communications
Current Role: Founder of Embrew Tea Products
Q: What do you want people to know about you?
A: I have a ton of energy, lots of ideas and ask a million questions. Productivity is how I feel I’m most valuable, but I am working on understanding that I’m the best when I can just be and truly let go. I choose to live in a world of abundance where there is plenty for everyone, we just have to give it.
Q: What career steps did you take after Clemson?
A: My first job out of college was from a connection I made in an internship while in the graphics program. I started out as a graphic designer, then an account executive in advertising, on to brand management and finally into eCommerce for a total of 15 years.
Q: How did you get started with Embrew?
A: I had an identity crisis after my second son was born after years of doing everything for other people. I felt I had lost myself. As busy as I was, I knew I needed a project that would be mine and mine alone. I had been searching for a sweetened tea bag for about eight years, and after many failed Google searches, I decided to bring them to life myself. I’m passionate about building things and had never started my own business before, so with the support of my family, I took the leap.
Q: What was one challenge you had to face starting the brand that you weren’t expecting?
A: I never expected that manufacturing and scalability would be so difficult. I needed a special type of machine and person to help me move from hand bagging tea to full-scale production. It took two years to get there, but I found what I needed and it’s made a world of difference in my business.
Q: What is your favorite flavor of tea that you make?
A: Hands down the Creamy Honey Oolong is my favorite. It’s magic in a cup. Pure happiness for me (and so many of my customers). Its buttery flavor and smooth texture is something I’d never tasted in a tea before, and although it’s my most expensive product to source, I have to have it and share it with my customers.
Q: What would your advice be to young business owners?
A: You can’t learn anything without trying and failing a few times along the way. It’s scary and uncertain and no one has it figured out, but the ones who keep with it and find answers to the never ending questions that come up are the ones who succeed. Speaking of succeeding, define your own success. Don’t let anyone else do that for you, or you’ll never live up to expectations and comparisons.
Q: Favorite fall treat?
A: Homemade cinnamon cranberry and rosemary bourbon cocktails.
Q: Favorite book?
A: BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book is a must-read for all who are considering starting a side business or feel like they are stuck creatively.