Women Entrepreneurship Strategy success story: Tea Horse

"I've accessed several federally funded programs for women entrepreneurs—programs that allowed me to incorporate, to scale up the capacity to roast my wild rice, and to get intellectual property protection. The advice I would give women entrepreneurs is to reach out to these women's business organizations. They're there to help you. They have the resources, they have the answers; if they don't have the answers, they'll connect you with those who do."

Denise Atkinson, Founder, Tea Horse artisanal tea and wild rice company
Transcript

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[Text on screen: Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Success Story – Tea Horse]

[Interview with Denise Atkinson interspersed with clips of tea products, Denise working, people enjoying tea, and women business owners meeting and working]

[Text on screen Denise Atkinson / Founder Tea Horse]

Hi, my name is Denise. I am an Ojibwe woman, part of the Wolf Clan. I am the founder of Tea Horse, an Indigenous woman–owned tea and wild rice company located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg Peoples in northwestern Ontario. I had this idea to bring a premium tea product to Thunder Bay. Tea 's always been really important to me, my family, my culture, my community. So I wanted to share this experience with people all over the world, all over Thunder Bay, all over Ontario.

I started Tea Horse in 2018. It was great. It was a lot of fun. Being a brick and mortar tea shop, it's tons of work. About a year into it, we decided that we would start transitioning to an e-commerce platform.

We receive samples of tea from all over the world. This tea arrived one day, and I'm like, "Wow, this looks like wild rice." And I thought, "Hmm." I was always a connoisseur of genmaicha, which is a Japanese popped brown rice tea. That was always my morning cup of tea. And I thought, "I wonder if I could do something with wild rice and blend it with the green tea and make our own version of a genmaicha."

My business aspirations for Tea Horse is for global growth. I've made some amazing contacts, amazing networking. Exporting to the U.S. is where I want to go. So I've accessed several federally funded programs for women entrepreneurs—funding that allowed me to incorporate, to scale up the capacity to roast my wild rice, to have intellectual property protection.

The advice I would give to other women entrepreneurs is reach out to these women business organizations. They're there to support you. They have the resources. They have the networks. If they don't know the answer, they'll find the answer. They know where to go. Like, surround yourself by these strong businesswomen who are there to encourage and help you and help you find the answers and connect you to the right people who do have the answers.

[Text on screen: Find out how the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy can help you. Visit canada.ca/women-entrepreneurship]

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