…who brought mountain tea to the Dutch market.
Edvina Erebara moved to the Netherlands from Albania in 2000 to study International Business Management. After years of experience in the corporate world with giants like Deloitte, CGI and ABN AMRO she came up with the idea of her own business. With Edvina’s help you can now enjoy a cup of mountain tea from Albania, without leaving Netherlands. Yes, we are talking about Çaj Mali by Lemon poppy, an exclusive tea in a super cute box with a bird on it.
Çaj Mali by Lemon Poppy and it’s creator, Edvina Erebara
At some point in your life you made a big step and started your own business. What was the main driver?
— I was not per se planning to leave the corporate world, I think it was more the idea of going out there and doing something truly my own. Amsterdam is a great place for starting a business with lots of inspiring young people running their own businesses. This gave me the courage to make the step myself. I had the name ‘Lemon Poppy’ in my mind for quite some time, it sounds so happy. And I have been surrounded by the great mountain tea for all my life. So it didn’t take long to put 2 and 2 together, and the idea for my own tea brand
So you already told me that an important aspect of your tea is the many cultural stories and traditions which are connected to it. Is there a story or memory about your tea from your personal life that you could share with us?
— I grew up with Çaj Mali tea. I remember my grandparents drinking it a lot, there was always a big pan of tea in their kitchen (funny thing: water cookers did not exist at that time). Whenever I picture my grandparents house I see their stove, I see the tea brewing, I can smell the familiar scent and I even remember the typical thick glasses we used. A real family tradition: mountain tea with toasted bread, feta cheese and olive oil. The sweet and salty combination of tea and cheese is sooo good! Following this tradition, we are planning to offer a tea tasting in Amsterdam soon. It will be a great experience to share.
* While unpacking the Çaj Mali box for the photoshoot, our photographer Kristina smiles: ‘Oh wow, it looks like a gift!’
— Yes, it’s a gift of nature! I believe that everything you do in daily life — no matter how small or big — can become an experience. That is also how Çaj Mali package was designed, as a cube with things to read and see on each side, the patterns trigger the curiosity, colours are bright — so you can’t wait to see what’s inside. We hope we have achieved this because creating an experience is such a special thing!
Even little experiences can enrich your life: Çaj Mali Mini, one cup at a time
What was your main challenge in introducing Lemon Poppy to the Dutch market?
— I think same as with every new product: to tell the story, to explain what Çaj Mali is and to show its health benefits. That was the first challenge: how to present Çaj Mali & Lemon Poppy. The good thing about introducing to the Dutch market: this market is known for being critical and people are honest about what they think. It’s helpful to hear their feedback, what they like and don’t like: this is how we learn. Dutch can be critical and hard to please but if you succeed, it’s a sign of being on the right track: another confirmation to go on with what you’re doing.
What does your work routine look like nowadays? Do you have your own rituals?
— What’s important for me is to be 100% in the moment. Whenever I go out for lunch, a chat or a cup of tea — I’m there, relaxing and enjoying the moment. The busier I am the more important it is to have these moments, also to be able to go back to the studio and concentrate 100% on the to do’s. There is something that I realise more and more: you can do things in a more relaxed way and still get things done. Or you can stress yourself out and it will cost twice as much energy, but you will still do the same amount of work. So I would rather do the first. Of course, sometimes it also happens that I’m running after things. Amsterdam is a busy city that stimulates you to do a lot of things — I like it. Productivity with the sense of calmness is the best way to go!
What is the major lesson or skill gained in the corporate world you use in your business?
— There are for sure some! Most important — maybe not lesson, but skill — the ability to see and analyse situations from a certain level without getting lost into the details. A kind of zoom in — zoom out ability that is important in building or running a business. I have to focus on the long term goals and strategy while keeping busy with the daily routine. This helps me keep track of what’s the most important for Lemon Poppy and that I am doing what I love.
What is your signature style in business?
— My brand is very close to my identity. The values I grew up with are hospitality and openness: in Lemon Poppy we are open about what we do. The other value I believe in, is service: I sometimes miss it in the Netherlands, and it makes me extra sensitive to businesses that go the extra mile. This is something I focus on: for every new retailer, I will be there myself to introduce the product and arrange a tasting. We provide all the support we can, we discuss with our retailers what works best for them to make sure that the location-product fit is done right. Hospitality, openness and focus on service is my signature style.
For the next year you main goal is…
— continuing our product development. We are working on the Ice tea line which it’s a totally different product type from the one we have. The business model, financing and production are so different, that it makes me feel like I’m running two businesses at the same time. What I want most for the next year is to run them both successfully. Besides that, we have just launched our webshop for Europe and, of course, we plan on bringing new people into the team.
Ice tea from Lemon Poppy: coming soon!
What is your biggest lesson from running the business so far?
— When you start your business, surround yourself with people, with a great team, don’t do everything on your own. Even though I never worked alone, now I notice that I want to have even more people in my team. The more people — the more ideas, that’s the only way your business can grow. Don’t wait too long and don’t wait to expand. And share what you learn with others!
Say hi to Edvina and try Çaj Mali by Lemon Poppy on one of the upcoming events:
Workship op de Ceuvel, Pop Up Store in cafe De Ceuvel, 21st of July – 12 of August
Amsterdam Maker Festival, Marineterrein Amsterdam, 19th – 21st of August