#HerHustle Interview with Sheena Brady, Founder of Tease

#HerHustle Interview with Sheena Brady, Founder of Tease - Three Ships

Founder of Tease, Sheena Brady, joins us today on the #HerHustle blog series to chat about her business journey and what it means to invest in women through their Founders Fund program.

Sheena believes wellness rituals shouldn’t be complicated. As the Founder & Tea Sommelier behind Tease, Sheena creates all-natural, tea and botanical-based tea blends and beauty staples to support your everyday rituals without compromising convenience, sustainability & impact. This includes having recently launched the world's first fully biodegradable and refillable wellness tea collection.

In 2019, Tease amplified its social impact mission of investing in women, to create more equity amongst diverse women founders. Through their Founders Fund program, Tease has contributed & raised over $150,000 in small business micro-grants and mentorship programming to over 500 women and non-binary entrepreneurs, largely throughout the pandemic.

Let's get to know more about Sheena's story!

Tease Wellness Tea Founders Fund

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start Tease?

I initially started Tease as a creative and supportive escape from a demanding career in hospitality leadership. Prior to starting Tease, I was consuming several cups of coffee a day in a very fast-paced, unpredictable environment. This combination led to anxiety, poor sleep, digestive challenges, and so on.

Fast forward, I was asked to create Toronto’s largest tea program at the Shangri-La Hotel. In order to walk the talk, I started my journey with the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada to become a certified Tea Sommelier. That was when it clicked. I discovered a passion for tea and botanical ingredients that could be combined in intentional ways to support my everyday wellness goals. Each formulation I’d either blend or source was like a puzzle piece to creating my ultimate support system. From sleep support to energy and focus, there was a blend for that. Today, we work with leading tea and botanical importers to create our products that are co-created between myself, and Amanda Baker, our COO & Herbalist.

What does your typical day look like?

I get up quite early so that I can work ‘on the business’ vs in the business. This is the best time to get work done that will move the needle for Tease. Things like business or product development, PR scoping, etc. Getting up early before the emails and slack messages roll in, and before my daughter wakes up, gives me a chance to get what I want done, vs need done. It sets the tone for the rest of the day, especially as business owners, we spend most of the day actually playing ‘whack-a-mole’, putting out mini fires all day, being reactive vs proactive. By taking time to accomplish what I want first thing in the morning, no matter how the rest of the day ends up, there’s still a sense of accomplishment!

I try to shut down my work brain by 4:30 pm, pick up our daughter from daycare and spend time with our family having dinner followed by my favorite evening tea ritual: Bath time, storytime, and bedtime with a 4-year-old. Then it’s usually the latest shows on Netflix I catch up on and lights out around 9:30 pm.

Tease Wellness Tea Collection

What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Quite simply;  “Why Not You?” 

A family friend shared this with me when I was about 15 years old. I couldn’t afford to pay for college, and with an incredible act of generosity, she paid for my first semester. I wasn’t even the ‘go to college’ type (or so I told myself). 

No one in my family up till that point had actually completed high school let alone go on to college. I became the first in my family to do both, thanks to her. When I asked ‘Why me’ when offering to pay for college, she responded with ‘Why not you’?

I realized at that moment I am deserving and capable of anything I truly desire. I carried that mindset and audacity with me for years to come and to this day. It’s a reminder to never back down from the big audacious goals you set for yourself. They are almost always figure-outable. It was also my earliest lesson in the critical importance of ‘paying it forward’ which is a big part of our ethos, at our sister organization Founders Fund, a community that is invested in elevating women founders across the country.

What was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?

In 2017, a well-known, former founder of a very successful tea company that we’ve seen inside every shopping mall sat down with me, for what I thought was a mentor chat - Only to tell me “You’re too late to be in the tea game. You’ll never make it, it’s an overcrowded and oversaturated space. What you have is a good hobby, but it’s not a business. You should get a job in the industry instead” (and he proceeded to offer me a job).

Tease Wellness Tea Team Photo

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

This is a great question because self-doubt comes endlessly with being a founder, in my experience. I generally remind myself of what I am capable of, and my track record to date. Most of the time, I’ve overcome more difficult challenges and obstacles than what I’m experiencing at the moment. I also call in my support system - a few individuals I highly trust to walk through how I’m feeling because I know they’ve been there too, and will often help me zoom out to see the bigger picture vs staying stuck in the weeds. 

What tips or advice do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?

Just get started! I promise that is actually the hardest part. Getting off the ground. All too often, I meet with women who want to ‘pick my brain’ about starting a business, and before you know it, they are going heavy into so many problems or concerns that don’t actually exist yet! We haven’t had it all figured out since day one at Tease, but we’re always learning, evolving, and growing. The challenges never end, no matter how big your business grows. (In fact, the bigger the business, the bigger the problems, most of the time. How you handle and move through those challenges changes though. You will run into problems, it’s inevitable. Just get started though, and handle the problems as ‘situations’ one at a time, as they happen. Not before they happen. 

Do you have a regimented skincare routine? If so, what are some of your favorite products or steps in your routine?

I use a hot cotton washcloth every night to open up my pores then use my favorite cleanser, toner + moisturizer. I always put on Three Ships Buttercream Lip Mask before going to bed, so that they don’t dry out. In the morning, I don’t do a full routine, just a mist of toner and SPF moisturizer before I put on my makeup.

Follow Sheena Brady:

Tease website: teasewellness.com

Tease Instagram: @teasewellness

Personal Instagram: @sheenabradyy

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