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Meet Nicole Dean of KOLLO

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Dean.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Nicole. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
KOLLO was conceptualized as a product line while I was studying for my MBA at Rady School of Management (UCSD). As someone who was working at Biotech company and going to school simultaneously, I had a constant need for a caffeine pick-me-up throughout my days, but I wanted an alternative to coffee as I do not tolerate it well.

I began drinking readily available tea (Starbucks etc.), and slowly graduated to an affinity towards higher-end, loose-leaf tea brewed at home. As the weather is beautiful and warm in Southern California, I found myself cold-brewing teas from my personal supply, and placing the teas in a glass bottle for a convenient on-the-go iced tea.

After completing my graduate studies, I took a trip to Japan to learn more about the origins and preparation of green tea, and returned home searching for a healthy, unsweetened, ready-to-drink (RTD) tea like those that are ubiquitous in Japan. A year later, I moved to Los Angeles for a job opportunity and to be with my then finance, and began researching the existence of the type of bottled tea I was searching for.

After a full year of market research and the turning down of a job offer, I founded KOLLO. Now one-year post launch, the line of teas are the first in class, luxury, cold-brew, bottled teas, brewed from single-source, organic, whole tea leaves. The teas are free of all preservatives, sweetness or flavorings and brewed locally in Los Angeles in small batches.

Essentially, I aimed to create a high-end alternative to the sweetened teas available on the market that rivaled the true tea flavors and nuances found in artisanal hot-brewed tea. I feel as though KOLLO teas give a nice option for customers who do not want to sacrifice quality for convenience.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There have been several issues that arise when creating a super-premium beverage, namely the very, very time consuming process of finding high-quality packaging and ingredient partners from the start. It was paramount for me to select teas based on quality, and not price, as well work with farmers that offer transparency into farming methods. Similarly, KOLLO is committed to packaging our teas in glass-bottles, so we had to find a suitable glass manufacturer that would produce our custom bottle, which is much much more difficult that you would think.

Secondly, from a branding perspective, it can be challenging to remain steadfast in your vision when not everyone “gets” the need for a value-based product over a low-priced product they are accustom to. We take a very minimalist approach to all parts of the brand from the product itself to the website design (take things away instead of adding them in), which can be unfamiliar for certain market segments and takes a commitment to customer education.

The good news is, I feel like the average consumer is more savvy than ever and demanding healthy, clean-label products, so as more and more products like KOLLO hit the market, such obstacles as we have faced bringing the product to market should continue to be alleviated. I am a firm believer that most, if not all, answers can be well-researched on the internet, so we really have no excuse not to have a good starting point by which to tackle challenges that arise.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with KOLLO – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
KOLLO was started in 2015 by Nicole Dean, a long-time resident of San Diego, and Rady School of Management alum. KOLLO teas are currently the only luxury, cold-brew, organic, bottled teas, brewed from whole-leaf, single-source tea leaves. The teas are novel in that they contain no preservatives, sweeteners or flavorings, and are brewed in small batches.

I am most proud of staying true to the vision of the product line itself without sacrifice. As tea-drinkers, it is difficult to find at a minimum unsweetened teas, so it is great to see consumers appreciate the distinction.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We have been extremely lucky that the teas have been well received in the Los Angeles, and hope to expand the offering to the rest of Southern California this Spring. We also have an exciting upcoming partnership with luxury heritage brand Fortnum & Mason in England, which will be available this spring/summer as well.

We have lots of opportunities for expansion domestically and internationally, and hope to continue to partner with retailers who share our vision. There are a few product line extensions that we are playing around with, but will absolutely continue to focus on our core three teas: Green Tea, Oolong Tea and Black Tea.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Noua Unu, Stewart & Connie Uy

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. OFFICE OF ROCK

    April 30, 2018 at 18:20

    Hi,

    My Board of Directors Trustee would like to get ahold of Nicole or a GM of sales for this brand. He tried it and loves it. (He is currently in Bel Air, CA). But was very hard to get a lot of information.

    We have a network of over 90,000 cstores & gas stations & boutique corner stores, and our sister association owns/operates about 70 % of all the hotels and their sundries and beverage offerings for the USA.

    Please have someone contact Mr. Rock’s office asap or email back to his asst so they can arrange a call. He is interested in supporting your brand growth through retail.

    Warmly,

    SHREE
    Admin to Paul Rock

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