What do you get when you cross one very passionate naturopath with natural and exotic ingredients? You get a whole range of incredibly delicious and health-focused teas that are on the tip of many a tongue - teas from Byron Bay Tea Company, to be exact. We're blessed to have worked with BBTC founder Sarita Merlo from the THP baby beginnings, and it's been a privilege to watch the rise, and rise, of her beautiful brand. Now a mum, Sarita has added even more purpose to her business, as well as a new tea specifically for breastfeeding mamas. Today, we talk all things, balance, biz and perspective with the amazing Sarita, and with a tea in hand, of course;)
What was the catalyst for you creating Byron Bay Tea Co?
As a passionate naturopath and herbalist, I was motivated to create a range of organic herbal tea blends for health. Twelve years ago, when I started BBTC, there were very few options available- merely plain peppermint or chamomile tea. I noticed that people were becoming more health conscious and perhaps drinking less coffee and more tea, but they would add so much sugar and honey to their single herb teas just to make them palatable! So, I started blending herbs with other natural and exotic ingredients, like berries, vanilla bean and spices to create some really unique and delicious flavours.
Back then it was a pretty radical product. I remember testing the product at the local markets and having people wonder what the hell they were (some people even wondering whether you smoke it or drink it!!) There was huge interest from such a wide range of places, like spas, retreats, cafes and restaurants. An obvious extension of the range was to do some traditional and oriental teas to cater for all tastes and requirements. We now offer 21 teas with our newest one being our NURSING blend for breastfeeding mums, to help increase milk supply.
As a new mum, how do you maintain balance between running a passion-infused business and nurturing a family?
Hopefully I maintain balance! Sometimes I wonder whether I do! I need a moment in the mornings before my little baby wakes to have a cup of English Breakfast tea to gather my thoughts for the day. It is my ritual that I never miss. I also love my morning walk and now I usually do this with Sam, and he loves it. We wander through the lush, green, rolling hills of Byron. It's such a great way to start the day. I feel like it is go-go-go as soon as Sam wakes up. I am working less hours now but I must say I am very productive in that time! I really try to keep work and family separate and dedicate time to both.
How has becoming a mum reshaped your view of the world, and business?
I have sooooo much more admiration for mums, especially my Grandma who had 11 children! Now I can understand what mums go through. It is a total juggling act, extremely demanding and I would have to say hugely undervalued in our society, which is unfortunate. It is the hardest job in the world and one where you don’t “clock off” at the end of a day. It is constant! It does, however, give you a different perspective and an appreciation for the simpler things in life, and an ability to really focus on what really matters.
What does “you” time now look like as a mum?
My “me time” is usually some quiet time at night reading once Sam is in bed, or a trip to Kiva Spa in Mullumbimby. I love the benefits of a dry sauna and sweating and also the relaxing atmosphere there to just chill out. My “me-time” also sometimes involves Sam. I have always loved bike riding and now I have got a baby seat attached to my bike now so Sam can come bike riding with me.
You’ve recently launched your NURSING tea for new mothers. Can you tell us a little more about it and the reason behind its creation?
Fortunately, I had no problem with my milk supply when I was breastfeeding Sam. But I was surrounded by friends and a sister that did. The stress it caused them was huge and I just felt that herbs could be so beneficial to help increase milk supply. I trialed and tested my Nursing blend for a while before we launched it a few months ago. It’s full of many goodies, including Galactagogues such as Goat’s Rue, as well as alfalfa, aniseed and nettle for their nutritive benefits.
What advice could you give to any other new mums out there either looking to start their own business, or grow their established business?
Create a business that can be taken care of by someone else if you need to take time out due to family commitments, and one that you can work flexible hours on. Of course, choose one that nourishes the soul and fulfills a higher purpose.