River Alanis never thought her hobby would one day become a successful commercial business – she was just looking for something to drink and enjoy!
After failing to find drinks in the supermarket that were both delicious and low in sugar, the Brisbane local decided to brew her own organic iced-tea.
“I never intended for it to become commercial,” River said.
“I was undergoing a business mentor program as I hadn’t been able to find long-term employment, and one day my mentor tasted my brews.
“They convinced me to change my entire business plan and focus on selling the tea instead – and that’s how Sustainabilitea was born!”
River received a Federal government grant in 2019 to help her cover the initial cost of starting her business, and since then has been busy testing and trialling the product, brewing the organic, sugar-free iced tea-blends and finding retail outlets to sell the delicious drinks.
“We currently supply our products to cafes and restaurants and soon, we will be moving to cocktail bars!” River said.
“We also have recently set up a market stall called ‘The T Spot,’ and are planning to debut at Powerhouse Markets in spring, with a diverse range of delicious, chilled drinks.
“Building Sustainabilitea is one of the most exciting adventures of my life – I have always dreamt of being my own boss and I am driven by making my own rules!”
It hasn’t all been smooth-sailing, however. In March, River was in the midst of planning her official launch of Sustainabilitea, when the Australian Government brought in restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
Her plans of a big launch and future business goals were suddenly up in the air; this is where Ignite stepped in to help.
“The ambiguity of the world at the moment has made me feel a bit uncertain about business decisions, so I’ve decided to pause my launch and continue refining the details in the background,” River explained.
“Through asking a lot of questions and knocking on a lot of doors during these past months, I came across the Ignite program.
“It is invaluable to have support from a team like Ignite, who help an emerging business thrive.
“Many ideas have great potential, but when you lack experience and knowledge, there can be barriers to that idea becoming a success, so I am incredibly grateful to have received the support from Ignite to keep me going these last few months.”
So, what’s next for Sustainabilitea?
“I am very motivated to create a positive impact, through my life and also the business,” River said.
“I wanted the business to take its environmental responsibility seriously, so this is incorporated into our business practices by using recyclable packaging that is locally manufactured and sourcing ingredients, like the fruit we use, from Australian farmers.
“We also have a plan to create a bottle-return scheme so that customers can bring back their bottles for re-use, which has been put on hold due COVID-19 as well, but it’s definitely on the agenda!
“The most important thing I've learned through the process of starting Sustainabilitea has been to acknowledge the voice of my inner critic, and to reason with it.
“My inner critic often tells me to give up and that things won't go to plan – but I know now that this doesn't have to define my actions.
“It's in my best interest to pursue my dreams, because the risks are worth it for the possible opportunities, many times over!”
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