Mikayla Stinson is a tea lover and has managed to turn it into a thriving tea business called Kenneth Ave Co.
The Guelph resident, who was born and raised in Erin, recalls her first experience with tea was drinking peppermint tea at a young age for irritable bowel syndrome.
"I have many memories of my Oma (grandma) making me peppermint tea in the morning to soothe my stomach," she said.
Today, Stinson owns a business which sells multiple loose tea blends. The company has steep support from tea lovers within the community.
Stinson said many people may think tea is basic, but she doesn’t believe so.
"I'm trying to use my tea company and my platform to share cool drinks with teas, like tea lattes and tea lemonade, to try and make tea fun, while providing the benefits,” she said.
Kenneth Ave Co (named after the street she grew up on) offers a variety of iced tea blends, like pina colada or peach, and dessert blends of tea, like birthday cake, vanilla chai and more. The company also sells blends for stress, anxiety, sleep, digestion and pregnancy.
Stinson isn’t the first person in her family involved with tea. She said her aunt was selling tea to clients of her physiotherapy business before moving to B.C. in 2020.
All herbs used in the tea blends for Kenneth Ave Co come from a company which is part of the Ethical Tea Partnership, an organization that monitors and regulates living and working conditions on tea estates worldwide, providing jobs in the developing countries.
"She was looking for someone to take it over and that's when I took over the relationship with the supplier, and that's when I started selling tea," said Stinson, who took it over while still in school. "I definitely wanted to be a business owner, and with the benefits that tea provided me, it seemed like the right choice to share that with everyone else."
After taking it over, Stinson made changes to make the business more sustainable, like using glass jars with bamboo lids instead of tin canisters. She came up with the idea from seeing how much waste a business can generate.
“Our glass jars can be returned or can be refilled through our reuse program,” said Stinson, adding the company also uses biodegradable tea bags.
Stinson notes more customers are becoming open to sustainability and are looking for that within their shopping experience. She said she is continuing to come up with new ideas to be a sustainable business.
"I think Guelph being such a green community too has been such a benefit for our company," said Stinson. "The retailers, they are a majority of my business, so without their support, I don't know if I would still be in business. I've been able to reach a whole new audience through them."
With Kenneth Ave Co tea blends in 13 locations across Ontario, Stinson said the has plans to expand the business to offer more varieties of coffee (the company currently sells three blends), and eventually, have their own storefront in five years. Residents can also find the company's tea, and video tutorials for tea drinks, online at kennethaveco.com.
In October 2021, Stinson mentions she fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a real estate agent. With both her businesses she also hopes to keep Kenneth Ave Co within the family.
"It's nice that I can pass it along, and hopefully I can build it into something bigger, and hopefully pass it along for generations,” she said.