Julie Hirsch is passionate about tea and passionate about the planet. As the co-founder of Eloments Vitamin Tea – the Victorian winner of our INNOV8RS competition – she’s been able to unite her passions to achieve a greater purpose.
Hirsch was just 26 when she and co-founder Nicole Lamond came up with Eloments, an organic tea brew packed with natural vitamins. The way she tells it, the busy pair, who met whilst attending the same writer’s group, would often lament how their lifestyle made them run down. Surely there was a more straightforward way to ensure they got all the vitamins they needed to stay fit and well?
“We were both really busy professional women, and we would have so many conversations about how it was difficult to know if we were eating enough of the right fruit and veg during all the chaos that happens through the day, Hirsch tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB).
“So, we thought, is there a way to get a boost of nutrients without having to take a synthetic vitamin? Or without having to change our diets significantly with shakes or powders? Then we came up with the idea to blend fruit and herbal extracts that have naturally occurring vitamins with a fairtrade cup of tea.”
What sounds like a relatively simple idea took the pair two years in research and development to bring to fruition.
“What we hadn’t realised was no-one had ever done this before. So, we had to come up with what is now a patent-pending manufacturing method to get the vitamins in the teabag. But what that meant was when we launched, we were able to launch with a bang – as so many people had heard about us.”
Shortly after launch, the duo struck a deal with Woolworths to stock their product on supermarket shelves.
“Within six months, we were in about 50 per cent of their stores in the tea aisle. It was an incredible journey – and Woolworths was so supportive of us. They loved that we were female founders, that we were organic-certified, that we were free trade …”
While the successes and accolades continued to roll in for Eloments and Hirsch, including being named on Forbes 30 under 30 and Telstra Business Woman of the Year, the entrepreneur says it’s not been without challenges. When she and Lamond began their startup journey, both were business novices.
“I never thought I would co-own a business, let alone one where we export to multiple countries,” said Hirsch.
“But what I was comfortable with was the idea of Fairtrade and a fair wage. I was working in the climate sector when we started [Eloments]. By being Fairtrade certified, every time someone has a cup of Eloments Vitamin Tea, they know that the farmer is getting a fair wage. They know that they are using a product that has sustainability and ethical farming practices at its heart. And it’s a beautiful way to think about business as a facilitator for change. So, in one way, it was an easy journey to go from not-for-profit to a business that was creating change.”
While health and wellness are at the heart of their product, Hirsch stresses their purpose to speed the transition to a fair wage for all workers is the sustaining the passion of the business.
“Often, farmers know the investments they need to make to be climate-resilient, but unfortunately, a lot of the systems don’t allow them to make the changes they need to as they’re not being paid fairly. So if we can give farmers a fair go, they can take action. It actually changes the game.”
Of course, for Eloments to succeed in their mission, everyday Aussies must take up the challenge. Fortunately, Hirsh says Australian consumers are a pretty woke bunch.
“The great thing is the power is in everyday people’s hands. We make so many choices in a day that can have an impact. From the tea, we drink, to the chocolate we eat to the cotton we buy. I love how grassroots that is.
“We wanted to prove that in the tea aisle – and there are a lot of giant companies there –we wanted to show that people do care. They want to purchase an ethical cup of tea that empowers people instead of furthering the cycle. And our tea gives people the ability to make a real systemic change as well as get all the vitamins they need in a cup.”
Find out more about Eloments Tea
The INNOV8RS is a national competition to find Australia’s most innovative small businesses. This initiative is supported by Peugeot Professional’s range of commercial vans, which combine the luxury of an SUV with the practicality of a van. Good for business, good for life.
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