Thank you to Dominion Tea for answering a few of our questions.
Congratulations on being named a finalist in the Main Street Business of the Year category!
The 24th Annual Loudoun Small Business Awards will be on November 1, 2018 – Tickets/More Info Here
1. Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today?
Dominion Tea has been a five year adventure filled with exploration, increasing capabilities, and learning from our customers to find the right product mix. We started the company in 2013 and quickly recognized that we wanted to provide a more personal experience than on-line, farmers markets and periodic events could provide. We also needed a place where wholesale prospects could explore our products in a quiet setting. Thus, we opened our tasting room in Purcellville in 2015. To our surprise, many of our early on-line clients from the Bethesda area, as well as those we had met at regional events, were quite receptive to the tasting room concept and traveled specifically to visit us in Purcellville. Today we have customers from across the DC, Maryland, and Virginia region and beyond who come to visit and enjoy a flight of tea.
2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?
Starting a new company with an unknown brand is a massive undertaking. Selling tea is simply a small part of the business as it required substantial investment of time and effort in finding the right suppliers, developing the right product mix, finding the right ways to engage with the community beyond our tasting room, and building brand awareness from nothing. Winning the Loudoun Chamber Small Business Award would represent validation that years of hard work has paid off and we’ve indeed created a business that is valued by the community.
3. If you weren’t running your own business/working at this business, what would you be doing?
Starting Dominion Tea has allowed us to actually become a part of the local community in a way we never could earlier in our careers. We both have decades of experience working for large enterprises supporting the missions of others. Those missions, however, required working in close to Washington D.C. and meant we never really had the time to engage in Loudoun County. If we weren’t running our own business we would very likely still be progressing in those careers with little engagement in the community.
4. What book are you reading right now? / What is your favorite book?
Currently, it would be Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. As for favorite book (too many to choose from), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
5.If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?
As a small business owner, still growing a new brand, having 24-hours off is a rare luxury. Occasionally we do have such time available and our preference is to explore other parts of Virginia. Specifically, we are very fond of the Charlottesville area and would likely head there. In Charlottesville we would spend time at area wineries, hiking in Albemarle and Nelson Counties and enjoying the culture to be found near UVA.
6. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?
A color label printer. This workhorse in production makes it possible for us to easily add new products without delays around packaging and package products on demand.
7. What did you want to be when you grew up as a child? / What was a childhood dream that you had?
We both wanted to own and run our own businesses. Hillary thought it would be more financial services than retail when she envisioned her business. David, on the other hand wasn’t entirely sure what form a business would take but always felt strongly that he wanted to do something in international business.
8. Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
This is a very difficult question for us as we strongly believe that there are a great many factors that influence a person. As founders of Dominion Tea we are a product of our educations, our global travels, and combined nearly 4 decades in large national and international corporations. Thus, there is no one person who has influenced us. If we had to pick one or two we would have to say that David’s father and stepfather, both of whom started their own veterinary businesses without the benefit of a business background and had to spend much of their career practicing medicine and figuring out how to actually run a successful business.
9. What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?
The people are the best part of running a business in Loudoun County. They are pleasant to talk too, love to support local businesses and are open to learning about new things and other parts of the world.
10. If you’re not in the office where can we find you?
We started Dominion Tea in part because we love history and culture, both here in the U.S. and abroad. A key part of our business is a supplier network that spans the globe so if we are not in the office its very likely we are travelling to meet existing and potential suppliers. This most likely means travel to less well known locations in China, India, and Sri Lanka as our largest sources of tea. For example, a recent trip to China had us in Fujian Province in cities of Xiamen, Anxi, and Wuyi attending one of the largest tea conferences in the world and meeting with prospective suppliers of Iron Goddess of Mercy (Tie Kwan Yin) and Wuyi Rock Tea (Da Hong Pao). Yes, this sounds like work but it is too much fun to be work.
11. What is your favorite weekend activity in Loudoun County?
When we have time to spare on weekends we love visiting local wineries and going to the movies at Cobb Cinemas or Alamo Drafthouse. Three of our favorite wineries are 8 Chains North Winery, The Barnes at Hamilton Station, and Casanel Vineyards which provide a great opportunity to enjoy a bottle of wine, have a good snack, and allow our son to run around.