Mmabatho Mokgadi from Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, Is the founder of Colorsofthearth. An organic loose leaf tea company specializing in herbal and fruit blends.  Currently she is also a full- time student at the University of South Africa, completing her second year towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Science and Social Services. Mmabatho loves yoga and is passionate about tea, particularly the medicinal components of herbal plants.

When she is not reading on community psychology and the functioning of public services in South Africa, she is running her business from home.

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Who is Mmabatho?

I am the founder and tea tailor of Colorsofthearth. Currently I’m  studying full-time at the University of South Africa, doing my second year towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Science and Social Services.

I’m passionate about tea, particularly the medicinal components of herbal plants. My current read is on Prof Maurice M. Iwu’s “handbook of African medicinal plants”. I enjoy yoga, great food and I’m always up for an adventure.

 

What is Colorsofthearth?

Colorsofthearth is an organic loose leaf tea company, with teas sourced locally and internationally. I specialise in handcrafted fruit tea blends (using spices, herbs and dried fruits) and herbal tea.

 

How did you find a gap in the market for your business?

When I established Colorsofthearth in 2015, all I knew was that I loved tea. As a result I had lost weight drinking yerba mate, white tea and green tea and my skin was looking healthier. I wanted to share this insight with people.

I have extensive knowledge of the product because I used to work for one of South Africa’s leading tea franchises, The Tea Merchant. During this time I grew to learn that tea repairs and builds from the inside out. Even after I left The Tea Merchant the love for the tradition of tea continued.

Soon I began making my own blends, playing around with herbs and dried fruits. When friends came over I would serve them the tea I made and they liked it a lot. A close friend of mine encouraged me to start my own business, saying that I’m “the tea person” because there’s nothing I didn’t know about tea.

The tea industry is growing rapidly and I want to see Colorsofthearth among the list of top tea brands across Africa.

 

How has the market responded to Colorsofthearth?

In February 2017 I took Colorsofthearth to the South African Broadcasting Company canteen and the response was positive, there was a lot of interest and support.

I have also exhibited at Market Esque in Soweto, but this crowd was different because most people were not interested in tea. I’m aware that people still have a certain stereotype about tea, which is: it is boring and should be consumed only if you are sick.

But, I can say though that the response has been more positive than it has been negative and there is ample room for improvement and growth.

 

What are three key business lessons you have learnt since running Colorsofthearth?

  • Persistence
  • How to manage finances
  • The importance of market research.

 

How do you balance your studies and running Colorsofthearth?

I write out weekly and daily schedules which help me distribute time evenly. Although at times I give more attention to school work when I have assignments due or i’m preparing for exams. In addition to that, I use resources on SLA’s website regarding balancing studies and running a business.

Overall I have a good support system from friends and family who encourage me and keep up to date with my progress.

What are two challenges you have faced and overcome as Colorsofthearth?

In 2016 I lost all hope and drive to keep Colorsofthearth running after my contract ended as a sales assistant at a kids clothing store. This happened a few months after I established Colorsofthearth.

I could not afford the apartment I was staying in and had to move back home. The move did not make it easy. I was back home, no call backs for interviews and a failing business. It was challenging financially to keep Colorsofthearth running.

But, In January of 2017 I decided to step out of my “hopelessness” mode and took it upon myself to finish the things I had started. Firstly, complete my undergraduate; I registered with UNISA and applied for funding, which was approved. I remember the excitement that came with the prospect of finally getting my degree!

Secondly, I needed to pick my business up again. I had to go back to the drawing board and determine why I registered my business in the first place. I soon realised it was because of my passion for tea and the desire to create and provide a product that is healthy, sourced locally and refreshing. Communities like She Leads Africa helped me gain my self confidence and purpose again.

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What keeps you inspired to run your business each day?

My mother, my vision board and prayer.

 

What is your three year growth plan for Colorsofthearth?

My plan in the next three years is to supply hotels, restaurants and delis around Johannesburg and across South Africa. Either employ one person or find a partner that I can work with in running the business. Have an iced tea range. Build an online store with worldwide shipping. Travel and form relationships with tea plantation farmers in Africa: Kericho Kenya, Satemwa Malawi and Tanzania.

In one sentence, how will you like to be remembered?

A holistic wellness brand.

Instagram: @colorsofthearth

Facebook: colorsofthearth

Twitter: @colorsofthearth


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