Today we’d like to introduce you to Lawrence Charles.
Lawrence, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started Charles & Company selling tea door-to-door on my bike – pedaling my way through the Santa Monica mountains – just me and a backpack full of tea. As sales increased, and my backpack got too heavy, I handmade a cart to help me carry my product on the bus. I was fortunate. People began searching me out on a weekly basis. Celebrity chefs and business executives loved my drive and brought Charles & Company into their world; the world of Malibu Farm, Nobu Hotels and the Four Seasons. That’s when everything changed.
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?
Charles & Company is at a great inflection point. However, the road definitely hasn’t been smooth. As the founder, I saw our road and direction clearly. The early work as a startup in many ways are unscalable in order to position the brand. Hand deliveries and personal service. Throughout these efforts, there is a ton of learning involved about customers, about the market, and all the while reaching to achieve product-market-fit.
The statistics show that less than 1% of African Americans receive venture capital; and thus, our biggest challenge has been in raising capital.
I’m hoping what I’m seeing now in our country is a positive transformation. I’m hoping bets will now be made on African Americans now more than ever.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Charles & Company story. Tell us more about the business.
Charles & Company Tea brings to life the experience of a traditional British tea. The company was started to share the comfort, health, serenity, and togetherness that we experience while drinking tea. We are pleased to provide the very best in hand-selected organic teas from pre-eminent tea plantations around the world.
As a privately-held company, Charles & Company is redefining the customer experience in three ways. First, by embracing our customers through appropriate collaborative partnerships and events. Second, Charles & Company transcends the ordinary with our 13+ product tea line that is organic, kosher and blended with essential oils, exotic spices, natural flavors while infused with hints of floral and fruity notes. Lastly, Charles & Company is focused on creating magical moments by immersing the consumer in unforgettable tea soirees that deliver beautiful memories of a day gone by. The different varieties of Charles & Company Tea are as unique as the company itself; with flavors like White Blueberry Pomegranate, Coconut Chamomile, Passionfruit Jasmine, Indian Chai and Creamy Earl Grey, tea aficionados can experience a wide variety of high-quality, hand-blended teas.
I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done to support several non-profit organizations i.e., the Child Development Institute where Joan Maltese is the executive director. They help children through early intervention of autism; Teen Cancer America, which focuses on helping teenagers who are battling cancer. We’ve also been recognized by the city of LA, Pasadena, Congress, and Senate for our service. I’m also proud to have been previously nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young.
What sets us apart is our tea, brand, cachet, and our storytelling through tea.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
It depends on your perspective of luck. In some cases you have overnight successes where timing and opportunity seem to meet without tremendous effort. I would say those are probably pretty rare. I’ve worked incredibly hard to create my opportunities and have also been fortunate to be supported by people who’ve seen my passion and desire to build the Charles & Company brand to prominance. We’ve just scratched the surface. We have the opportunity to build an incredible brand. Thankfully, Los Angeles is unique in that it is incredibly friendly to entrepreneurship; It is a city of opportunity, creativity and cultural experiences across a broad spectrum of diverse people from all over the world. It’s a place where people come to realize their hopes and dreams. Although, I think most would agree the traffic leaves much to be desired!
- One Ounce at: $6
- One Quarter Pound at: $24
- One Pound at: $88
- Website: www.cnctea.com
- Phone: (213) 797-4417
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/
- Facebook: facebook.com/
- Twitter: twitter.com/
Female is Irene Castaneda. Martin Lof – photog of Lawrence Charles in brown jacket with hat