At the age of 23 while serving in the Israeli army Adi Arezzini was feeling bloated, constipated and had a stomach that looked like she was carrying around a bowling ball inside. She was active and training soldiers, yet she had a very angry digestive system that left her feeling terrible with her own wellness and health. And eating the food the army provided wasn’t exactly helping …
So, Adi tried a new avenue and got a colonic. It helped her for a while, but served more as a band-aide approach. It wasn’t until she got back to the United States and moved to Florida that she was able to cook her own healthy foods and finally help her stomach heal. And although her healthy eating approach was helping, it still didn’t fix her problem 100 percent.
During a fateful meeting at a friend’s house Adi met the person who would become her co-founder. With his background in coffee and tea, and her background in health and wellness, the two started to combine different loose leaf tea blends to find one that would help her stomach’s health and, as a perk, actually taste good at the same time. It was through this process that Teami Blends was born.
Offering teas made of herbs and natural ingredients, Teami Blends strives to create a product that provides a truly effective plant-based solution. The company is now a multi-million dollar brand with a massive following and community of Teami loyalists. And, just last year, Teami’s line of tea-infused skincare made it to the shelves of more than 1,000 Ulta retail stores.
In today’s interview Adi talks to I Want Her Job Founder Brianne about how she grew Teami from a company built out of her mom’s house into the behemoth it is today. She also discusses her motivations, the importance of recharging and shares her mindset for success. Read below for an interview excerpt, and then listen to the full-length conversation on episode 93 of I Want Her Job: The Podcast.
Once you and your co-founder, Yogev, decided you wanted to launch Teami Blends, did you feel there was a gap in the marketplace of products that weren’t necessarily working as well, or what did you set out to have as your differentiator with your business?
The first thing that I did is try all of the competitor product out there. I wanted to see, “Do they have something that’s already working?” I purchased all these different detox tea products from companies that were around, promoting their products on Instagram, in different supermarkets. I thought, “Let’s try them all.” None of them worked for me. On top of that, when they were selling loose-leaf tea as a detox tea, and they weren’t giving me an easy way to drink it throughout the day. That’s why we have our tumbler bottles.
You wonder why people drink coffee all the time? It’s convenient. There’s a coffee machine at every business, and there’s a Starbucks or coffee shop almost on every corner. It’s convenient, and you don’t have to do a whole ritual in order to get that energy boost that you’re looking for.
The other element of competitor products is that they didn’t taste good and weren’t effective. The last aspect is that a lot of these companies selling these detox teas were promoting themselves as skinny products, with claims like, “Drink this tea. Be skinny. Wear a bikini. You’re an Australian model.” This is not what I believe in. I come from a fitness background, a health background. Not the, “I want to be a runway model” background. I am not stick-figure-skinny. I have muscles. I’m more curvy. I could tell that these companies creating these products had more interest in selling one-off’s to the masses and then just being done, instead of truly trying to help people in their health and wellness. That was one of the main pivotal changes that I wanted to make with my company versus other companies that existed out there.
What are some of your biggest milestones to date, and which ones bring you the most satisfaction?
One of the biggest milestones was, two years ago, moving into our 13,000-square-foot facility. Before that we were subleasing space, and 10 of us were crammed in together on our laptops. Moving into our own space was a really big milestone – and being able to give people their own desks. I know for most people that sounds normal, but for us it was a really big deal. In a year our lease is going to be done, and we’re looking to buy a 20,000-square-foot space, so we’re already outgrowing the space that we have right now.
I’m proud of that, and I’m proud to employ amazing people who all have the same interest and intention to help others live a happier, healthier lifestyle. Being able to pay someone’s paycheck is a huge win for me. I love being able to do that. Someone comes to work, they’re happy, they have a true purpose to help others, and we’re able to pay them well. I love that aspect of being a business owner. It’s something that drives me a lot. I think, “How can we make more money in the company so that I can also pay our employees more and more for their value?”
Another milestone for me occurred in March of last year when Ulta Beauty picked up our skincare line in 1,000 retail stores across America. Our skincare products are all sold by Ulta Beauty. That has been a tremendous milestone that not only helped our business, but helped our brand even more to be out there and for other people to find out about us through Ulta.
The third milestone was when we came out with our tumblers. These are BPA-free tumbler bottles that allow you to take your tea on the go, which makes it easy. The reason why they are so important to me is that they are gorgeous, and they’re really cute to walk around with. We have about 15 different colors so you can express yourself in different ways.
Everyone carries around a Starbucks cup, or a coffee cup, and because we’ve seen it in movies and in pictures on Instagram, we look at coffee cups as some sort of coolness factor. It’s cool to be carrying this cup that has this beverage inside of it. Through media, we’ve felt this way. But these coffee cups can be filled with sugar, syrups, milk and things that could definitely irritate your stomach, as well as have anywhere from 200 to 500 calories inside of them.
Instead, with our tumbler, people are able to carry around this beautiful tumbler, with this loose-leaf tea floating inside of it. The message they’re sending out to other people – whether it’s on their desk at work or in their car or they’re walking with it downtown – is more of a health and wellness vibe. The tumbler is transparent, so you can see all these beautiful leaves. Then, because it looks so interesting, someone might ask someone in our Teami community what they are drinking, and then that person can educate them about how great they feel, and then that person asking the question then wants to do the same thing and drink Teami as well.
I’ve been at a restaurant before and I’ve seen someone with their tumbler at the table and I thought, “Oh my God! What’s happening?” I’ve also had my friend text me and say, “I was just at the library and I saw a person with a blue tumbler.” It makes me feel like we’re actually making a difference in the world. We’re not just selling products online, but people are using it in their lives.
When you start your own business, it can be terrifying. What are some philosophies, or maybe a mindset, that helped you in the past – and even today – push through your fear?
One of the things that I truly believe in is that fear creeps in when there’s lack of action. Fear happens when you’re not doing anything. My philosophy is to act and not think. You must start doing, and then you’ll see, well, did it work? Did it not work? What were the effects? I do this instead of thinking, “Should I do this? Should I not do this? Will it work? Will it not work?” Put some thought into it, of course. A lot of the time where people get stuck if they want to start their own business – or when they want to get a promotion in their job and they’re afraid to ask for it – is in their thinking. They, themselves, are literally holding back their own potential.
Looking back, do you feel there are patterns that have helped your personal success?
The No. 1 method of my success is hard work and consistency. Someone that works hard, but then stops working hard is not going to find success. Hard work is the first part of the recipe for success. The second part is consistency. You have to keep up that hard work. Forever. There’s no stopping in between. And that doesn’t mean I don’t take days off. It doesn’t mean I don’t spend a whole Saturday in front of the TV watching Netflix. That’s not what it means. It means you have to have the long vision in mind, and you have to work hard for a long time in order to see success. We’ve been around for five years and I’m still working just as hard today as I worked when I started the company. I’m just working on different things.
With this constant work, how do you find time to recharge? (Especially with your husband living in Portland!)
I spend four weeks in Florida and two weeks in Portland. I’m without my husband when I’m in Florida. He and I are both very dedicated to our careers, because we’re passionate. We’re very busy and we work all day, and it’s sometimes around 11 or 12 at night that we talk. We do text throughout the day, and we also do a lot of cute things for each other. He sends me flowers and we keep everything really light and fun that way.
When I’m in Portland he and I go out on a lot of dates and do a lot of things together – like hiking. That’s mainly how we keep our relationship going. We’re always working toward a goal of: How can I spend more time in Portland? How can I spend four weeks in Portland and two weeks in Florida by switching the schedule?
This is a sacrifice I have to make. I met my husband when I was a year and a half into owning Teami, and we were still working partly out of my mom’s house and subleasing a space. The company was in no shape for me to leave it. And even though it’s five years later, I still need to train people. It’s my baby. I can’t drop it and leave for any reason. I’m very lucky my husband is supportive. He understands that Teami is my baby and my life. I have a responsibility to 45 employees. The company needs to be viable. If our numbers go down and we can’t meet payroll, that’s my responsibility. I cannot just peace out. We’re not at that level. There’s a lot of understanding that goes into place.
Does your spirituality influence your work? If so, how?
Yes. So much. I am a very spiritual person. I believe in the power of the spirit and the power of the person themselves. If I have a thought that I really want to accomplish something, then I really can accomplish it. But if I’m spiritually feeling down, depressed, upset, unmotivated and uninspired, then it reflects everywhere in my business. It reflects in how I treat my employees. It reflects in how I treat my husband. Constantly improving myself and making sure I’m in a good place is important. I’m constantly looking for ways for me as a person, and as a business owner, to be better. If you’re not improving yourself, then what are you doing?
With your intention you have the power to change your own circumstances. If something is negative or not happening the way I want it to, then I look for ways I can change it. If there’s nothing else I can do for a situation, then I realize there’s nothing else that I can do. Things happen. Someone quits. We fire someone. It’s not like I could have calculated those situations beforehand. What I can say is that I always look at where my responsibility is in a given transaction. I ask myself: Is there something I can do to affect it or change it? If there is, let’s do that. I also look at where I could be better next time.