Ponderings kicks off this edition with a burst of inspiration from creative humans transforming a passion and need into a thriving business.
Beloved Ocean Grove local Kristen Carroll is one such human; her infectious and bubbly nature makes it no surprise that Frank n Al Chai has become a popular staple for those who want to be soothed and nurtured by this high-quality range of goodies. Have you tried the mulled wine kit? Your’s truly has- and there’s something uniquely next level and earthy about it, from the packaging to the flavour. It’s a soul pleaser. We pondered with Kristen, and her insights will leave you smiling.
What are the origins of Frank n Al Chai?
Frank n Al Chai was born from a need to find something to replace coffee. I was on a meditation retreat with no coffee and woke with a headache I couldn’t get rid of on the second day. I didn’t realise till this point that it had such control over my body, so I set about trying to find a nice chai to replace my morning coffee. There are many great Chai’s out there, but many were too sweet or not strong enough for me or had caffeine in the tea used or weren’t organic, so I set about making my own.
What are some of the unexpected aspects in starting your business?
The most unexpected thing to happen when I started was Covid. It literally hit our shores as I started my business.
I was building a business as a yoga and meditation teacher at the time, so I had to put this to one side for a while. Looking back, I’m not sure I would have taken the business to where it is now if the pandemic didn’t happen.
A pleasant surprise was the open arms of the local small business community down the coast. Everyone was doing it pretty hard but still took time to give both myself and my product a go.
Your Products are raved about, what is it like to get success from something you have created?
So humbling…. I am pinching myself…people are authentic. When they taste Frank N Al Chai at markets, you can instantly tell if someone is into it or not, and people just take a sip and say Mmmmm, that’s beautiful.
People contact me to tell me how much they love Frank n Al Chai. They send me pics and rave to their friends and family, who then come and rave to me at markets!! It’s the best!
Did you ever have someone you looked up to in your childhood that might have influenced your ability to be so adaptive?
Growing up, I was a bit of a square peg and didn’t know who I was or what I was ‘supposed ‘to do.
My grandfather loved me for who I was, and I loved being with him. He was the guy who could make anything he needed out of what he had. He once made me a skateboard from some old roller skates and a plank of wood fashioned into a deck. We painted it white with an electrical tape stripe down the middle…to make it go faster!
He instilled in me the value of fun and giving things a go.
What was your background before Frank?
I have had a very interesting journey through my pursuit to find out why I am here. I worked in hospitality when I was younger, at music venues, so it was my work and my social life. I met my husband, Ricky, there too, so it worked out to be much more than a job. I also loved talking to people about their lives…people are so interesting.
I also worked in a company called Avant Card for over 20 years! The free postcard company no longer exists, but I am great mates with the owner Pat, who always kept the planet in mind when she ran that company. She is a total girl boss!
I was a distribution manager for Victoria and learnt a lot about what people resonated with (marketing!) This helped me out heaps with my decision for packaging and how I wanted to present my product.
I was always drawn to meditation throughout my life. And in 2018, I completed a diploma in meditation and mindfulness. This formal study helped me realise that it wasn’t about the destination. It helped me to realise that I was on the right path and had always been and to continue living in the now and to just be
I put one of my beautiful meditations into each pack of Chai to help make the chai drinking experience that much more enjoyable.
What advice would you give to other people thinking of starting a business?
Running my own product-based business has given me a great sense of self-worth. I created this from a need I had and made it the best possible product. In addition, I made sure my product had a minimal harmful impact by using compostable packaging and only sourced the best possible organic ingredients.
I love this world I live in and only want to live as harmoniously as possible with it. However, it’s not all bottom line with me. When creating a product or service, it’s not hard to be mindful of the planet and all that inhabit it. Try not to be fooled by a plastic bag with a green leaf on it and the word ‘recyclable’. There is 4 times as much plastic used to make one ‘recyclable’ bag instead of the single-use degradable bags of the past.
My supplier of compostable packaging said that people have never been buying more of these plastic bags, which makes me sad. The choice is easy, just don’t. There are other less harmful options. Most people bring their own bags to shop these days anyway.
If I was to give advice to someone wanting to start their own business, I would want them to make sure they were value-adding to the community in which they live. But, again, it’s about the trade you make. You get paid money to provide people with something that should equal or exceed that value, which will enrich people’s lives…no gimmicks… it’s such a great feeling.
Cubbyhouse or treehouse?
Definitely, treehouse, as it gives you so much more! (as long as you are not harming the tree, of course!)
You can climb up into it; you get a different perspective from ground level. It has an element of danger which is exciting. You can have a rope to swing on or a slide to make a quick exit. You have beautiful greenery all around you, be one with the birds…so much fun just thinking about it.
Check out Frank’n Al Chai on Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/franknal_chai
And the website https://franknalchai.bigcartel.com/
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