Sachai Tea Co. Is Alabama’s Third Certified B Corp: An Interview With Rebecca Denson
PPC: How are you doing and how is life as a certified B Corp?
Rebecca: It was a proud moment for me as an immigrant co-founder of a small tea company. When we first found out, my kids were the first to hear the news and we jumped around with so much joy and had a little dance party right there in our living room. Right after, they looked at me and said can you explain again what this all means. So I explained that we can tell even more people now that we use [our] business for good.
Life as a B Corp in the last month has meant more networking opportunities with all sorts of B Corp companies and the general vibe has been folks wanting to see our small tea company succeed and either making further connections or diving into ideas for collaboration. This has been very encouraging to us as a small company taking small strides in our line of work.
PPC: How does it feel to be the third B Corp in Alabama and the first in Birmingham?
Rebecca: We are so honored and can’t wait for more local businesses to be certified.
PPC: We found an interesting article that AL.com wrote about you several years back about your journey into entrepreneurship. Can you tell us about that first trip to India with your family and how it helped launch your business?
Rebecca: Our first sourcing trip to northeast India was in 2015 and we’ve had a few more sourcing trip opportunities in following years. These were all very educational trips that helped us better understand life on a tea estate, the large scale tea ag economics, and tea harvesting and production. Tea is a product of colonization and the principles of extraction and exploitation still operate through every level of this industry.
Rebecca and her husband, Clint, on a sourcing trip in 2015.
On a trip right before COVID, we met Tribal co-op tea farmers that were doing things differently. They had organic tea and used permaculture practices for farming. They worked as a team and shared resources, allowing them to pay more for green leaf than large tea estates paid farmers.
We wanted these values in our tea company. We wanted to buy from this co-op and tell the story of these tribal tea farmers. This is where we found our why.
PPC: If I looked at your website or met you at a farmers market, one thing I wouldn’t Immediately know about is your workforce development program. What are you doing and what are you trying to achieve in your neighborhood?
Rebecca: The majority of our workforce comes from a low-income neighborhood in Birmingham and, being a small company, our employees have to do a little bit of everything. So we have to develop a multitude of soft and hard skills.
Our workforce development effort includes training to integrate those many areas of the business, but also things like professionalism in the workforce. So this year, our team took a project management class together, but we also created LinkedIn profiles for everyone, which allows them access to professional development education and exposes them to potential future employment opportunities. We want them to start with us and grow beyond us.
As a company, our goal is to create local impact in our neighborhood by creating more job opportunities that prepare our team members for future success. And ultimately, we plan to relocate our production space to this neighborhood and to use this space to drive access to culinary small business incubation programs in our little pocket of Birmingham.
Tea brings people together–and Sachai hopes to use their business as a driver of community economic impact in Birmingham and beyond.
PPC: In that same article we mentioned earlier, they talked about your desire to be the first benefit corporation in the state of Alabama. And we know you tried certifying as a B Corp before but had a hard time getting over the 80 point threshold. What compelled you to try again and why were you so committed to earning this certification for your business?
Rebecca: The B Corp network is very unique to other certification networks–and my desire to join this network was the primary motivation. The requirements to quantify and verify your impact are rigorous. As a small business and especially as a minority owned small business (with limited resources), the main focus can often just feel like trying to stay afloat and make it to the next fiscal year. But the B Corp commitment to also focus on tracking and collecting data around our impact was what compelled me to work towards the certification.
PPC: We’ve collaborated a lot in the past year on growing the Alabama B Corp community. How important was it for you to go through your certification with other Alabama based businesses and with a local (or, at least regional) consultant.
Sachai worked with Georgia-based Profitable Purpose Consulting & Tribal Good as part of an Alabama-based B Corp cohort.
Rebecca: A regional consultant brought tangibility to this process. Every region has its own unique context, narrative, history and lived experience. Working with you and Twanna and Jenna was more than just consulting for our company. Profitable Purpose Consulting’s (PPC) connection to the local ecosystem, their intentionality to build the local ecosystem, and their focus on elevating BIPOC companies here regionally were all very important factors in this process. Working with PPC was a very meaningful experience for us.
PPC: Tell us what’s next for Sachai. What big victory are we going to be celebrating next? And where can people find your products?
Rebecca: We are excited to create our footprint as a B Corp in Alabama and we are looking forward to building out our production space to create more incubation opportunities and job opportunities. We are also looking forward to B local in Alabama and more companies becoming B Corps here.
A lot of love goes into Sachai’s tea. You can order directly from their website using the link below.
You can buy Sachai products on our website www.sachaiteacompany.com. We also have some really cool shipping and subscription offers. And you can find us at several cafes, restaurants, and local good stores in Birmingham, Atlanta, Huntsville, Montgomery, and Jackson.
Profitable Purpose Consulting is a full service culture and impact agency that specializes in B Corp certification. While they’re headquartered in Georgia and their heart is in the southeast, they work with clients around the world and have a network just as global. At PPC, it’s not just the certification, it’s successfully implementing every part of the process and telling the story of the good you do.