It sits on the table besides your morning newspaper, it comes when you are feeling drowsy, you see it everyday and you have your favourite addas to find it. Chai, or tea, comes to us in every season and any time. You can try to take an Indian away from chai but you cannot take chai out of an Indian.
However, it will be silly to underestimate chai’s influence and to think that the beverage doesn’t have an international appeal. Brook Eddy, an American entrepreneur and a single mother of twin, has made staggering Rs 227 crore by just selling, that’s right, chai.
How did it even begin
It was in 2002 when Brook visited India after listening to a radio story on Swadhyay social change movement that was brewing here. Her curiosity led her to explore remote villages of Western India where she was exposed to varied, colorful culture and one magical drink.
As she moved from one place to another the flavor of chai changed and her experience as a chai lover expanded.
Brook, who has a degree in social policy, returned to Colorado in US a year later and got on with her life. She got married and gave birth to two lovely twin boys. She was in America, the roads were shinier and her surroundings painted a completely different picture but memories from India would often knock her mind. She would brew some tea for her every now and then and even her family became fond of the drink but she craved for something more.
From back of her car
As they say, “what you seek is seeking you”, the word on her amazing new beverage spread beyond her friends and family and Brook realized that more and more people want to try out chai. In 2006, without any proper store or resources, Brook set out selling tea filled-mason jars out of the back of her car. Her out of the box approach clicked and she soon gained a following.
Funnily, she would often come home to find $10 notes on her kitchen counter from friends and family for the missing jars in her fridge.
“I realized the recipe I had crafted for myself, a fiery fresh ginger chai, could be produced for cafés and retailers to bring people ‘India in a cup,'” Brook told Inc in an interview.
The Bhakti brand
After a year of operating out of her car’s back, Brook took a deep dive into entrepreneurship. In 2007, Bhakti Chai got a website to reach out to more consumers. The road was smooth for Brook to go top gear and only a year later she quit her full-time job to focus on building retail infrastructure for Bhakti Chai.
Brook was no entrepreneur but her passion, efforts, and madness was matchless. Quickly, in 2008, came first round of investment for her baby venture. This was a major boost for Brook and she used the funds to “buy a ginger press, hire two full-time brewers, and begin to focus on sales and business infrastructure.”
Since launch, company has raised a total of $10 million through private equity firm’s and angel investors.
Since Bhakti Chai’s inception, Brook has sold tea approximately for Rs 227 crore! Their range and team has expanded and so have the consumers. But that is not it. Three years back, Bhakti Chai launched a social-change initiative called GITA (Give, Inspire, Take Action) to award financial grants for feeding the homeless and providing them access to clean water. The company has given away $500,000 till now for the noble cause.
In love with Indian chaos
In an interview, she says, “I’m a white girl born of hippie parents in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and then raised in Michigan, right? I shouldn’t really have this pulse for India, but I do. I love the chaos and vibrancy. Every time I come, I’m introduced to something new. It’s just real.”
“Maybe someday it’s sauces or chutneys or snacks or food or a brick-and-mortar concept. And maybe the pulse and the vibration of India will come through somehow. I want that to be the legacy.”
There’s no destiny if you don’t choose to create it. Brook took her leap of faith and made a killing on her chai business. She believed in her idea and launched her business out of her car’s rear. It is time that you take a leap and make your dreams a reality.
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