Storehouse Tea is a Cleveland based for-profit social enterprise that uses tea as a powerful vehicle to heal and connect people while providing jobs to local refugees and immigrants.
When Paula Hershman decided to quit drinking coffee for health reasons, it set her on the path to discovering the joys and health benefits of fresh, organic loose-leaf tea. Then in 2007, when she was looking to transition from her graphic design business, Paula and her husband and co-founder Dan saw the need for a Cleveland-based loose leaf tea business. Wanting their company to create excellent, handcrafted healthy products while having a positive social and environmental impact, they pursued an Organic and Fair Trade certification for their teas and moved the business to an area where they could employ the refugees and immigrants in the neighborhood. Paula and Dan’s motivation for growth is to not only have more people enjoy their teas but to hire marginalized people and give them dignified employment. Tea became the vehicle of accomplishing their mission. As Paula and Dan would say, “we don’t hire people to blend tea; we blend tea to hire people.”
From its inception, Storehouse Tea has been an ethical and socially responsible company locally and internationally. Their dedication to producing organic and Fair Trade products supports the fragile ecosystem of the tea gardens and farmers. In dedication to giving back to these communities, Storehouse Tea purchases as much Fair Trade tea as possible.
Additionally, Storehouse Tea has become a staple in Cleveland’s growing refugee population. With nearly 5,000 refugees arriving in Cuyahoga County where Storehouse Tea is located, there was a clear need for dignified and safe work within this community. Today, employees can walk or ride public transportation to get to work, where they are met with opportunities for mentorship, practicing English, gaining job experience, earning an income to support their families and being instilled with confidence and hope in their future.
Each week, Storehouse Tea receives testimonials on how their fresh, Organic teas have significantly improved customers’ health, from helping to shorten a cold, to improving digestion; from lowering blood pressure and cholesterol to improving sleep, energy and focus. Additionally, their international employees, who come from Rwanda, the Congo, Iran, Russia and more recently, Puerto Rico, are supported through those purchases. Each employee has seen improvement in speaking and writing in English; experienced new social interactions like celebrating a birthday for the first time and even learned how to drive a car. Everyday, Paula and Dan are inspired by their work ethic, dedication and willingness to learn.
As a for profit social enterprise, Storehouse Tea views their impact as integral to who they are as people and as a business. They believe you can “do good” and grow a business at the same time – it not only makes sense for their vision and their souls, but also the bottom line! The days of making money at any cost are over and social enterprises like Storehouse Tea will continue to prosper while making the world a better place.