Likkle Tea adding new products despite market challenges
Likkle Tea, the Kingston-based speciality tea small business run by young marketer and entrepreneur Patrique Goodall, was in expansion mode, having invested in machinery last year, introduced new products to the local and export markets, and on board new distributors when the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Despite the shuttering of hotels, cafes and restaurants that provided the bulk of sales, Goodall has further expanded the offerings, tried to tailor products to help fill the nutritional needs of the times and hit turbocharge with digital promotions, collaborations with other businesses, online order-taking and deliveries.
“I have taken a big hit. The cafés we serve in Jamaica and Europe are now are either closed or seeing a steady decline in customers, as we all would expect. The hotels I sell to locally will not be taking any orders possibly until the next tourist season opens in December. This is where I move the majority of units,” Goodall said.
Likkle Tea has sold loose leaf teas in jars and canisters for the past three years.
Goodall has brought forward a planned introduction of ready-to-drink teas, for which she did a test-run last year, and which is said to have had good market feedback. The market launch of the new products was originally scheduled for later this year.
“Currently, we are offering sparkling iced teas in two flavours each week from our loose-leaf iced tea collection. This Friday, customers will have delivered to them Pink Shade of Lemonade, a lemon grass-based caffeine-free tisane, and Strawberry Blush, a strawberry and jasmine green tea,” Goodall said on Monday.
Likkle Tea now also has on the market tea concentrates, to which customers can simply add hot or cold water. It also offers Bubble Teas, a Taiwanese milk tea beverage with tapioca pearls available in Russian Caravan, Taro and Matcha flavours.
With persons concerned about boosting their immune system in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, Likkle Tea has debuted Immuni-TEA, a special blend of herbs aimed at boosting the immune system.
The sparkling iced teas are sold in glass bottles and tea concentrates in jars. The bubble teas are sold in sealed biodegradable plastic containers.
“I had to get in crisis management mode, pivot and get creative by bringing the ready-to-drink teas to market sooner than expected. I have to do everything in my power to ensure that my customers’ experience remains the same,” said Goodall.
The Likkle Tea owner is reporting a doubling of revenues over the past year with new distribution outlets in addition to pop-up events.
“In Kingston, we supply Cannonball Café, Island Coffees Café and Toyota Coffee House, and Wine with Me in Negril. We were preparing some custom tea blends for two other cafes in Kingston and one in Montego Bay a few days before we got news of Jamaica’s first COVID-19 case. That is now on hold until this all ends,” she said.
With deliveries being the only available means of getting orders to customers, the entrepreneur considers delayed plans to open a store in Kingston as a sort of blessing in disguise.
“I have been searching for an ideal space for quite some time and was honestly starting to get hard on myself, having not found one. Now, in light of the current situation it’s almost as if it was a blessing in disguise and God saying to me, not yet, there’s more on the ground that needs to be done,” Goodall told the Financial Gleaner.
In the midst of the upheavals in business caused by the pandemic, she is proud of the collaboration that exists in the small-business community, which she says is pulling together in a great way during the current crisis.
“We’re all in this together. I’ve partnered with a few caterers who are doing lunch and dinner deliveries to add the teas to the menu. This started last week and has been going great so far,” the businesswoman said.