CLEVELAND, Ohio — In 2007 Paula Hershman embarked on a journey that she says changed her life. The then 40-year-old stay-at-home mom decided to open a business.
“I wondered, you know, if Cleveland, you know, has an organic tea company. No, it didn't. And so I started down that road,” said Hershman, president of Storehouse Tea,
Hershman opened Storehouse Tea, an organic loose leaf tea company, which now produces over 50 organic fair-trade loose leaf tea blends, in a potpourri of flavors —there's citron jasmine green tea, blueberry hibiscus, and apricot oolong, to name a few.
Hershman didn’t start Storehouse Tea solely for financial reasons. Her business is helping women beyond America’s borders.
“Most of the women around the world and India and China, that's their number one job, is picking leaves, and as a female business owner, I wanted to support that,” she said. “Doing the right things between the organic, the fair-trade, who I was going to hire meant a lot to me, so, where this business was located meant a lot to me. So all those things I feel created much more meaning, which then created another purpose to my business greater than just making money."
The company, which is now located in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood, employs high school seniors from Thomas Jefferson International Academy, who come in after school and do the production work.
“We've worked with some of the refugee resettlement groups in Cleveland to find our employees. We've gotten them from Rwanda and the Congo, in Iran, and currently our girls right now are from our blenders from Russia and our production team is all from Puerto Rico,” said Hershman.
Hershman says she wouldn’t be able to run her business without these young ladies. They fill and weigh bags. label boxes, and organize inventory. She says they’re more than employees, they are her mentees.
“We’re all women right now, so we are a pretty cool team, and that’s sort of been our excitement over the past few years, five years especially being in the building. It’s been a really big asset to the growth of our company, being right here where it all makes a difference," she said.
And possibly future business owners —
“I feel very blessed, and honored to be in this position. I had no idea that I would have a tea company, it's been exciting, it's been an adventure that’s been really fun, really fulfilling ” Hershman said.
Storehouse Tea can currently be found in more than 30 restaurants, coffee houses and specialty shops.
More information can be found on their website.