By Joel Cintron The Hartford Courant
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Kristy Joyce says coming up with a new tea blend and then creating its name and design is the favorite part of owning her business.
While most people know the bigger businesses in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood, they may be missing a hidden gem tucked away at 50 Bartholomew Ave. Just two buildings away from Hog River Brewing Co. stevia
Ritual Earth Tea opened its doors in April 2018. As her website suggests, Kristy Joyce is a one-woman show who assembles each batch of tea by hand. She says it's actually her favorite part of the process, coming up with a new blend, then creating its name and design.
It's that love of tea, and a need for a change in her life, that got her here.
After an emotionally and physically draining 2017, Joyce wanted to slow down. As a full-time hair stylist, she is always moving. But she says what gave her hope every day was coming home and drinking tea.
"No matter what happens today, I can go home and I can pick out loose-leaf tea ... whatever I want from my stash and just watch it steep," Joyce says. "And everything is going to be OK."
In a sense, it became a form of meditation for Joyce. She would put away her phone as she gazed at the water as her tea seeped, and then drink it in silence. She says it helped her through a lot.
Joyce says she always wanted to start her own business, but quickly nixed the idea of opening a hair salon.
"It would be too involved," she says. "I wanted something to help me slow down."
With no business plan in mind, she decided to look for retail spaces first and then work her way backward.
"I figured the best way to start is throw myself into it," she says. "If I think about something too much, I get scared. As humans, we think about all the bad things ... of what can go wrong. So I tried not to think too much about it. I knew I wanted my own space, my own little slice of property."
Joyce began searching for available spaces in the Parkville area, mainly because of its up-and-coming status. That's when she was put in contact with Cynthia Dodd, who had owned what used to be called "The Dirt Salon" building on Bartholomew Avenue until she died last year.
According to Joyce, opening her own space happened so fast. She remembers being introduced to the space, which was previously used as a utility closet and wasn't in the best condition. But something about the property resonated with her and she found herself signing the lease in January 2018.
At that point, Joyce still had no idea what kind of business she wanted to create in her new space. A few days passed and she started to panic and ask herself, "what have I done?" Her "aha" moment came after another hectic, physically demanding day at the hair salon she worked at.
During her tea mediation, Joyce noticed something was off with her tea, it irritated her taste buds. Looking at the tea's ingredients, she saw it contained artificial flavors and Stevia. Instead of throwing it out, Joyce decided to fix it by adding some all-natural ingredients. That was when she decided to start her own tea-blending business.
When you walk into Ritual Earth Tea today, you are greeted with a calming, serene ambiance. Soft, orange bulbs hang from the ceiling alongside origami cranes and crystals wrapped in ropes. Silver cylinders and pouches of teas are placed throughout on a variety of shelves and earthy furniture pieces.
Joyce's first tea collection was named after her five favorite crystals: quartz, garnet, tourmaline, amethyst, and aquamarine. Joyce says crystals inspire her, which explains why they're scattered throughout the shop.
One of her latest blends is called Revive. Its purpose, as Joyce says, is "to ease the impending doom of winter." It's a blend that helps boost your immune system, and features anti-anxiety herbs such as holy basil, spearmint, lemon balm, and lemongrass.
Currently, Joyce is trying to build a stronger online presence, as well as come up with some branding strategies to help her brick-and-mortar location. Her shop hours vary, so she typically posts them on her Instagram stories for her customers.
But Joyce admits liking the randomness of her shop hours: "It gives it a sense of allure, like you have to be in the know." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.