Turning a passion into a beau-tea-ful business
The tea enthusiasts-turned-business partners behind the cleverly named Pinky Up brand are Tatyana Dolgaya (right) and Erin Walsh (left). “I started Pinky Up tea on my own as a passion project while I had a full-time consulting job, and I worked on the product line and packaging with a designer on nights and weekends,” says Dolgaya. Thanks to a personal connection to True Brands (now Pinky Up’s parent company), Dolgaya met Walsh, Pinky Up’s brand manager.
Dolgaya’s passion for tea isn’t something new. Growing up in Moscow, Russia, she drank tea every day with her grandmother starting at the age of five. “People from Moscow are notorious tea drinkers; it’s a huge part of the culture,” she says. When Dolgaya immigrated to the US, she continued with her tea-sipping habits and found herself enlightening friends with her expertise. “It was a refreshing way to socialize over something healthier than alcohol.”
After years of being a casual tea pusher in her circle of friends, it donned on Dolgaya that tea wasn’t marketed to younger women in the US in a very compelling way; this made her realize that she needed to make a business out of it.
Ditch the sickly-sweet lattes for guilt-free tea
With the explosion of tea flavors popping up these days, it’s no wonder folks are ditching sugar bomb lattes for naturally flavored brews. Pinky Up’s line is a little different than most other teas, however. Dolgaya explains, “One of my long-term personal habits is using tea to curb my workplace dessert cravings. I bypass the donuts and make myself a delicious cup of tea instead.” To make it easy for other women to do the same, Pinky Up offers a variety of flavors that play off of desserts — like Cinnamon Bun, Strawberry Shortcake, and Candied Apple.
Since their start, Dolgaya and Walsh have seen an incredible shift in the way people are thinking about tea. Walsh explains, “We now live in a world where the perfect tea latte is an accessory in Instagram posts. Gone are the days of the Olsen twins holding venti cups emblazoned with that signature green logo. We’re looking forward to continuing to bring fashion to this brand in a way that some of our influences have to home decor and drinkware.”
That said, just like every other tea enthusiast, Dolgaya and Walsh understand the importance of having fabulous tea accessories like charming tea pots, storage pots, and travel infuser mugs. Walsh states, “Not only are we capturing the American palette, but we’re really giving women product that allows them to infuse their style along with their perfect cup!” She’s not kidding — they even offer cat mugs for those who want to boast their “cat lady” status. (Sign us up.)
Dolgaya and Walsh have seen nothing but positive reactions to how they’ve reimagined tea. At this point, the challenge is to continue to “excite and delight” as more and more people step into the fancy tea scene and sip their fave brews… with their pinkies up.
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(Photos via Pinky Up)