Today we’d like to introduce you to Paula Aitken.
Paula, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Eight years ago I took my husband on a food tour in the city and we stopped at a tea shop. We were absolutely not tea drinkers. I loved coffee (and still do!), and he’s a 6 am Pepsi drinker. We walked to the next destination with our cup of tea and wanted more. We ended up walking back after the tour, buying several teas and accessories, and almost missed our train home.
Ever since, we’d frequently have conversations about making our own blends, having a shop someday, and finally, in December 2016 we officially created our business. I did many, many farmers markets and events to get our name and brand out there. I still participate in markets and events, we sell online, and we have been expanding via wholesale partnerships for the last 8 months. The idea of our own shop is still in some day phase.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We make seasonal blends and in the summer everyone wants fruity flavors. I had never really drank fruit teas, and it was a huge learning curve for our process and blending timeline. Last summer we ended up with only a raspberry green blend, which turned out to be our most popular summer tea.
After much research and a flavoring class, we did add an apple rooibos and peach black blend in the fall. We currently have a spring cherry blend and there will be blueberry, strawberry, maybe a tropical, and the raspberry will be back in June!
Please tell us about Casting Whimsy.
Casting Whimsy is a small batch, handcrafted, loose leaf tea business. We are known for our creative blends and quirky and nerdy names. The best part is when a customer “gets it” and makes the connection to the tea name reference. My husband and I create all our own recipes for loose leaf tea blends. One of us will come up with an idea, or after a few customers ask about the same type of blend or flavor, we start investigating.
Once we finalize the blend, which can take a few hours to a few weeks, I work on sourcing all the ingredients and figuring out a name. Sometimes we have a new blend ready to go and can’t find just the right name or tie in we’re looking for. I get asked a lot what handcrafted means for us. Once I have all the ingredients, I blend and package all our teas. There isn’t any machinery or assembly lines. It’s me with a scale and a big mixing bowl.
We do everything based on a pound of the main ingredient so small batch means most of our blends are made in batches of 8-12 bags at a time.
Our commitment to fair trade and organic sets us apart. You’ll never find “natural flavors”, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, or any other junk in our blends. Our teas, rooibos, cacao, coffee, are organic and fair trade certified. All of our herbs, spices, and flowers are also organic. We also pride ourselves on being able to offer all the amazing goodness of loose leaf at a reasonable price.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If we were to start all over, we wouldn’t have waited so long to start the business. We actually talk about it pretty frequently. “Why didn’t we do this 5 years ago?” Our son is 6 so starting Casting Whimsy five years ago would have had an entirely different set of challenges. There was definitely a timing factor to getting the business off the ground but we still always wonder, what if?
- 25-30 serving pouches – $12
- 10 serving samplers – 3 for $15 or 5 for $22
- Website: castingwhimsy.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/castingwhimsy/
- Facebook: facebook.com/castingwhimsy