The Downtown crowd will have a new option for their caffeine fix early next year. Sweet Simpliciteas will open their doors on Third Street just South of the Columbus Commons to serve up unique flavors of hand-blended tea.
Sweet Simpliciteas is one of two winners of the KickStart 2 competition. The prize includes a year of free rent in a downtown storefront, as well as other valuable advertising and mentoring services.
Sweet Simpliciteas owner Aisha Echols has a clear vision for her new space.
“I want it to be a cozy, casual place,” she says. “I want it to feel like home.”
Aiming for a February opening, Sweet Simpliciteas will serve tea blends by the cup created with high-quality, natural ingredients from all over the world. Tea-drinkers can expect unique flavors like chocolate chip chai, strawberry lemonade, cookies & cream and pina colada. Customers can also purchase the blends by the ounce, as well as the accessories for making the perfect cup of tea at home. Echols plans to pair the hot or iced tea beverages with food from other local businesses. Echols is still establishing partnerships, but looks to offer items like baked goods and salads.
Echols’s special creations are already available at several locations across Columbus. Angry Baker serves it up by the cup, while Celebrate Local, Simply Vague, Mary B.’s and Dames Bond Marketplace cover retail locations.
The original plan was to be a wholesaler, but Echols is excited by the opportunity for a brick-and-mortar location. She hopes to grow the local presences of Sweet Simpliciteas through the shop, while also using it as a space to test out new flavors before they go wholesale.
While Echols had developed a palate for teas from all over the world over the years, as a business, Sweet Simpliciteas developed quickly.
A coworker first introduced her to high-quality tea in 2005, but after receiving a Keuring in 2008, tea took a backseat. Echols said she felt a little guilty for leaving her tea behind for the exotic and interesting flavors of coffee, but ultimately the switch led to an idea.
“What if I made tea have all these fun flavors like coffee?” she asked. Tea blending turned into a hobby. She passed her experimental blends on to family and friends. When several insisted paying for the tea, she realized she had a viable business. That was about a year ago.
In the last year, Echols completed the Bad Girl Ventures program, including a nine-week business education course. The experience left her with a business plan and invaluable contacts. One of the top pieces of advice she received, “Find out who the trendsetters and tastemakers are and network with them,” she says.
With the contest win still fresh and just a few months until the opening, “I feel like it’s just the beginning,” Echols says.
For more information, visit weetsimpliciteas.com.