Q+A with Founder Emilie Holmes
Pinky’s up! It’s no secret- Brits are proper, good, and love their tea. With two “Tea Bar” locations in London, adorable branding and most importantly- high quality and delicious taste, Good & Proper Tea is a perfect fit to sell to our UK-based by CHLOE. customers! We chatted with founder Emilie Holmes about her brand. Like all amazing businesses, the idea came out of a frustration with something lacking. In this case, jealousy of the care and attention that all her coffee-drinking friends received at cafes, while all she got was a lousy tea bag in water!
It’s safe to say, Emilie’s teas are much, much more. “Cheers” to that!
by CHLOE.: Introduce yourself.
Emilie Holmes: My name is Emilie Holmes and I’m the founder of Good & Proper Tea– London-based premium tea specialists. We curate a collection of single origin teas from around the world, then brew them at our flagship Tea Bar in Clerkenwell to bring out the best possible flavor in every cup. You can also find our teas both online, as well as in cafes, restaurants and hotels across the UK, including by CHLOE.!
bC: Tell us about your career path- what were you doing before founding Good & Proper Tea?
EH: I had wanted to set the business up straight after University, but felt I needed to get a ‘real’ job first, so went and worked at an advertising agency. It was a tough role but I loved my job and worked tirelessly for over 3 years there, but I still had that niggle of wanting to do my own thing. Eventually I plucked up the courage to take the leap!
bC: So, where did the idea come from? Why tea?!
EH: I don’t drink coffee, I’m a tea drinker and was increasingly frustrated by the lack of quality and variety when out and about– my friends would all be presented with lovingly crafted flat whites, topped with impressive latte art, while I got a floating tea bag in a mug which I could have made better at home…So back in 2012 I finally decided to do something about it. I set out to create a destination where tea-drinkers would be offered the same care and attention that my coffee-junkie friends had come to expect. The plan started with converting a 1974 Citroën-H van into a mobile tea bar.
bC: Talk to us about some of your sustainable practices? How important is it to you to be mindful about the environment in your life, and business?
EH: These things are very important to all of us in the team– as a small business you’re always planning for a big future and we therefore have to take responsibility for what that future looks like. But that isn’t easy– it is almost always both cheaper and faster to cut corners, but we try to apply the same approach we take to the tea to everything else we do, by doing things properly. That might be something as simple as collecting all of our used tea leaves daily to be composted, our recent launch of 100% compostable tea bags or bigger projects like ensuring that the producers we work with are themselves using sustainable farming practices. We’ve still got a long way to go, but we’re always looking for ways to do things better and that’s all you can do– just keep improving.
bC: What has been one of the most rewarding things about starting Good & Proper Tea?
EH: I think having a team around you who are as passionate about what you set out to do as you are is an incredibly rewarding thing. My team work incredibly hard and each bring such different skills to the mix which makes the journey all the more exciting, seeing how we can all pull together to achieve our goals and take the business where we want it to go.
bC: Where do you see yourself, and your business in 5 years?
EH: We’d love to see lots more Good & Proper Tea Bars! Our London flagship is a wonderful place which brings together everything we’re all about– the tea is the focus, of course, but everything from the service, the team of brewers, the interior, the food, right through to the way the mug you hold feels is all part of it. It’s no doubt a tough time to be in retail at the moment, but it would be a dream to see our Tea Bars in Amsterdam, Berlin, New York, LA… Ultimately we want to show people how good tea can be, when it’s done properly- and that simple idea is something that we want to take to our customers in all sorts of ways, from experiencing it in-store, ordering it online or just drinking it in your office or local café…It’s an exciting time to be in tea as it’s versatile, it’s good for you and it forms an important part of a balanced lifestyle.
bC: Where can you be found during your free time?
EH: Probably at Brockley Market with my husband buying my fruit and veg for the week…or eating-out. I love eating-out and in London you’re spoilt for choice!
bC: What is a piece of advice that you live by?
EH: Slow down and enjoy the journey. Racing through the weeks and months with the business makes this something I struggle with, so I try to remind myself of this often. It’s important to stop and reflect on what you’ve done too or it can be all too easy to forget where you started, where you’re going and what it’s all for.
bC: What’s your favorite dish at by CHLOE.?
EH: Got to be the Kale Caesar Salad…
Nickname? Em or ‘the tea lady’ (which I hate!).
Emoji that best describes you? The upside down face – sometimes you just get stuck and that somehow sums it up!
Favorite place on earth? Middle of nowhere, in France, surrounded by lavender, ideally by a pool.
Cocktail of choice? Sours. Our Earl Grey Sour is delicious.
Top 3 restaurants (excluding by CHLOE. of course!)? Peckham Bazaar, Pidgin and Padella.
Favorite food? Tricky– I lived in Italy for a while so I do love a delicious pasta…
Top 3 favorite fashion brands? Arket, Ganni and Uniqlo for basics.
Early bird or night owl? Night owl. But both most the time – bad combo.
Choice super hero power? Flying. Particularly if it means avoiding the London commute.
Go-to workout? Yoga.
Juice or smoothie? Juice.
3 objects you can’t live without? Pen and paper, tea (!) and trainers – I live in them.
Whatcha readin’? Suitcase Magazine!