In just seven years, Singapore tea house chain TWG has expanded from a single cafe to a network of 44 spanning 15 countries. From three employees to 3000.
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia for its Women at the Top series, TWG co-founder Maranda Barnes described her success as akin to selling ice to Eskimos: last year the company opened its first store in China, the world’s most populous nation of tea drinkers.
Barnes had a background in luxury retailing prior to founding TWG, experience working with fragrances and high-end fashion brands preparing her well for marketing upmarket teas.
“I knew about luxury packaging,” she told ChannelNews Asia. “I knew how you are supposed to talk about luxury products, how important the ceremony was and these small little details.”
But she says it was still a challenge tackling Asian markets.
“In the beginning, it was a bit of a scary challenge because it was like selling ice to the Eskimos. Here we are, coming from overseas to sell a product to Asia and the Asians are the connoisseurs of tea. But at the same time, I sometimes feel like it takes a foreigner to see the value and the beauty in a product that has become very mundane.”
Watch the video interview here.