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A TEA-RRIFFIC concoction: When a passion for tea and ice cream turns into a novel business plan…
As a kid, Mario Leite had a massive love affair with ice cream and always chose chunky, gooey flavors. An evolving palate had him searching for offbeat and unique flavors that were more earthy and natural. This inspired Mario to concoct ice cream with an infusion of his favorite tea… and voila! It became an instant hit among one and all. Seeking inspiration from this novelty, Mario decided to infuse other classic tea flavors with ice cream resulting in the creation of a product that not just finished clean off the palate but also preserved the essence of the original tea flavor.
Realizing that the market potential for such a product is still untapped, Mario and Souvannee Leite launched TEA-RRIFFIC! ICE CREAM. Currently, their business supplies hand-crafted tea-infused ice cream wholesale and sells them to retailers and food service channels including Whole Foods and ShopRite in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.
When they first approached CTSBDC’s Denise Whitford, they had trouble narrowing down their focus to channels that were most profitable. Since their acquaintance with Denise, they have been able to improve sales by focusing their energy on more niche channels that generate maximum profits for their business.
“Mario and Souvanne really know their product and the markets they want to serve. They’ve worked really hard to start and grow the business, their markets and the products too. They bring just the right blend of creativity to ingenuity and mix in knowhow along with a great team with the right business expertise that established this high quality brand. While the products can be found in several key markets across the country, they’ve also been responding to significant interest in several foreign markets as well. After all – who doesn’t like ice cream right?” Denise Whitford, CTSBDC advisor.
One distinctive trait of this product is its emphasis on all-natural ingredients, relying on a potpourri of tea flavors from all over the world including Earl Grey, Chamomile, Ginger Matcha, and Masala Chai Lavender Blueberry.
“One of our biggest achievements so far,” says Souvannee, “is that we have been accepted to Whole Foods retail and have worked our way into the campuses of Facebook and LinkedIn.” In the near future, the owners at TEA-RRIFFIC! plan on making their business pan-global while emphasizing sustainability.
When asked about what she would like to say about other businesses wanting to work with CTSBDC, Souvannee says, “They should definitely start working with CTSBDC as soon as possible.”