In the second of our features on incredible entrepreneurs, we feature a young lady who took on the challenge of breaking into one of the toughest sectors imaginable to succeed in. Armed with a receipt for Jamaican tea.
It seems crazy that we’ve needed to write this series of features to support a campaign around skin colour. Nailah is remarkable in many ways, but the fact she is black should not be one of them. #blacklivesmatter
Introducing Nailah Ellis-Brown
It must be pretty cool to have a secret family recipe passed down to you, right? – “this must be sold, but never told”
That recipe was for hibiscus Jamaican tea that Nailah’s great-grandfather Cyril Byron passed on to her father. Mr Byron was a Garevyite-Jamaican immigrant who came to America in the early 1900s. He worked his way up to Chief Chef within a hotel chain before founding his own catering company in 1940. For 20 years Byron Caterers was one of the leading black-owned businesses in the Bronx.
Fast-forward to 2008 and Nailah followed in her great grandfather’s footsteps by launching her own business. And her business brought that age-old recipe for Jamaican tea to life!
Ellis Island Tea
Nailah’s story is just so inspiring from an entrepreneur’s perspective. A business makeover revealed that her branding to date had focused so heavily on her own energetic and warm personality, that the brand itself was taking a back seat. So, they looked at ways of re-inventing the Jamaican tea brand to make it really stand out on the shelves.
Within the rebranding project, the marketing guru proposed a name change to Black Star Line. Most entrepreneurs face a situation like this at some point – I certainly have! It would have been easy for Nailah to just accept the recommendation of an expert. They know best right? What did she do? Nailah stood by her own vision and decided to continue with Ellis Island Tea. Personally, we think she totally made the right choice!
What We Love About This Company
There’s so much to love about Ellis Island Tea. For one thing, the driving force behind the company is just so likeable and down to earth. Then, just imagining drinking Jamaican Tea conjures up so many nice thoughts – particularly at this time when travel is definitely off the menu.
Personally, I’ve always had a desire to visit Detroit for all its history and music connections – which is the base the Ellis Island Tea.
But perhaps most importantly, it’s a real David vs Goliath story. Can there be a more difficult market to break into than the soft drinks market? It takes a very special business with a unique product huge and amount of determination to survive and win in that one.
Way to go Nailah and Mr Byron!
Natural Ingredient Products on EcoHonesty
Sadly, Ellis Island Jamaican Tea is not currently available outside of the U.S.
However, we are delighted to support a UK based maker of the most scrumptious chocolate made using the finest natural ingredients – Cocoa Loco.