Navigating the 'Pandemic Pivot' with Teaspressa's Allison DeVane
Allison DeVane is the founder of Teaspressa, a unique product she describes as “coffee inspired tea.” It’s an all natural, organic tea with the robust flavor and caffeine content of coffee. Allison is an entrepreneur in spirit and practice who has built her business from the ground up. She started by handing out free samples from her mobile tea cart in downtown Phoenix and today, she owns four brick and mortar stores, three in Arizona and one in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After appearing on Shark Tank but failing to secure a deal, she was accepted in the first class of the Tory Burch Foundation’s Capital Program for young female entrepreneurs. Following her matriculation in the program, Vogue named her a “new girl boss” in 2016. In a recent interview with Ali Cayne on HRN’s In The Sauce, Allison discusses the lessons she's learned as she has grown her business. Alison Cayne: You have a business that’s both brick and mortar, DTC and wholesale. How have you focused your attention? Allison DeVane: Great question! Still figuring this out to this day. Right now I’m rotational with my focuses depending on the seasonality of the business. AC: What are you learning and how do they support each other? AD: I’ve learned that it is vital to diversify your income through several channels. Especially with everything going on, I’m so thankful to already have an online B2C and B2B presence. All the businesses support each other from customer acquisition to even cash flow. AC: How are you adapting your processes to re-open safely? AD: It’s been a process. Being a business owner already has its uncertainties and the element of “figuring it out on the way.” With a global pandemic in the mix, it almost feels like I’m at a boss level of a video game where you really have to utilize all that you know and what little information you do know to defeat it. If anything, I’m learning to adapt and move quicker than before and we are transitioning more of our services digitally. AC: Have you used any tech solutions, like contactless payments? AD: Yes, Square! It is the best! Right now we have all our store orders operating through our Square site. AC: What are your thoughts on emerging brands doing incubators and programs? AD: I think every business owner should go through one. I’ve learned so much and I feel every time I did one it sparked me to continue to work more on (instead of in) the business. Most importantly, the peers you meet through the programs are invaluable. I keep in contact with several and they have been peers through tough times, inspirations, and even mentors. AC: What do you wish you had known? AD: I think this was a lesson that several business owners learned during this pandemic, but I learned how important it was to have relationships with financial institutions and to have finance contingency plans. AC: What is your advice to new founders? AD: Always ask for help, continue to brainstorm with others, secure contingency finance plans as well as relationships with bankers especially during the good times so you ready for the bad, and don’t let “failures” get you down. I’ve always take them as an opportunity to learn and adapt. If anything those outcomes have always been my business’s biggest blessings in the long run.