On the up · 30 June 2016

Tea & Tequila: Fusing colourful Mexican culture with British design

Tea and Tequila
Tea and Tequila products are designed and manufactured in Mexico

Sourcing and exporting products that embody the rich and colourful culture of Mexico, Sarah Goodwin and Millie Wilson have seen their small trading company Tea & Tequila go from strength to strength since launching in 2014.

Designing and importing a range of products that include furniture, gemstone jewellery and clutch bags, the University of Bristol graduates have also been able to provide jobs and income to local communities in Mexico. Business Advice spoke to the girls to find out more about their exciting brand.

(1) Who are you and what’s your business?

We are Sarah and Millie, founders of unique company Tea & Tequila Trading. Bringing some of our favourite bits of Mexico to the UK, we design and import our own branded products, such as fashion and travel accessories and jewellery, as well as homewares like the traditional Acapulco chair. We also distribute a brilliant Mezcal brand – Mezcal Amores.

(2) How long have you been around for?

For just over a year. We launched our company at the end of 2014, but began working full-time from 2015.

(3) How do you make money?

We sell our products via our ecommerce platform and retail our designs through boutique stores and certain restaurants in the UK.

(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?

We are only a two-person operation. One partner – Sarah – is based in Mexico City where she focuses on designing, sourcing and working with artisans and producers to get the products ready for sale in the UK.

Millie, our London-based partner, takes on the roles of selling, distributing and managing the company from the UK. We also take on each others roles at times when we are in the other country travelling or visiting.

Together, our skill sets and strengths make for great team work. We have a dynamic work ethic and we are constantly involved in what the other one is doing and working on, despite being located on the other side of the world.

(5) What was key in terms of getting started?

Sarah had lived and worked in Mexico after having studied Spanish and spending some time there during and after her degree. When she found the perfect partner in the UK, the company began. We’ve found it’s been crucial having the partners working together but in different locations due to logistics.

(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?

Having some noteworthy celebrities interested in our brand has been a big boost to confidence. We’ve had the honour of making bespoke products for the likes of Chiara Ferragni, Rhianna and Natasha Oakley, for example.

Tea & Tequila co-founder Sarah Goodwin
Tea & Tequila co-founder Sarah Goodwin

(7) What setbacks have you had along the way? 

Quality control is very important to us. Since most of our products are hand made we have had to change artisans and people working for us due to inconsistency or late work. Now that we’ve gained some experience, we are tackling these issues in a much better way. Having obstacles with craftsmen is common in our line of work, but through collaboration we’ve been able to overcome them.

(8) In five years’ time, I will be…

We hope that in five years’ time we will have a team of people working with us both in Mexico and the UK, and perhaps other locations worldwide. We hope to grow our brand and be able to increase volume of production and sales – evolving into a more global business.

(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?

Be clear on what your company is about from the start. We have struggled with our identity, as to begin with Tea & Tequila was trying to do too many things and simply did not have the time or manpower to do them all. We have learnt what to focus on and how to overcome obstacles that come our way.

(10) Who are your business heroes and why?

We admire young designers and people that have made successes of themselves from nothing. We admire the ecommerce platform “Not on the High Street” and its founders, for example.

Read on to find out about the exciting new tea brand currently stocking London’s trendy new naked restaurant

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

HR