Sashee Chandran: Turning Dreams into Reality

“The only thing that matters at the end of the day is your persistence and your willingness to try and put yourself out there. No one is an expert at anything when you first start, that comes over time.”

Occupation: Founder & CEO at Tea Drops

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

University: UC Irvine Economics & Minor in Management.

 

What are Tea Drops?

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Tea Drops are organic, pressed teas that dissolve in your cup. It’s tea that’s finely ground together, compressed with other spices, a little bit of organic cane sugar and it dissolves in hot water.

How it all started

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The idea of Tea Drops started in Chandran’s personal kitchen and then moved to her garage. Chandran’s love for tea started very early in her childhood. Being raised by a Sri Lankan father and Chinese mother, loose leaf tea was a big part of her everyday life. As Chandran got into her career, she noticed that her love for tea ended up being a big inconvenience to her day to day work life. “If you ever tried to make loose leaf tea at your desk, you need an arsenal of equipment. You need a kettle, you have to strain the tea, and then you need to wait for three to seven minutes.”

As a person who worked a fast-paced lifestyle of 60 to 80 hours a week, making loose leaf tea between meetings became more of a chore than a simple break. Chandran’s discovered that she wasn’t the only one facing this problem of tea inconvenience and decided to experiment with different tea blends.

At the time, Chandran had no idea what she was doing or where this experiment would take her, but she ordered a whole bunch of teas to test out their properties. Although her full-time job took up most of her time, Chandran devoted her nights and weekends to testing hundreds of teas. Chandran’s tea exploration led her to not only become a master of the tea world but gave her the knowledge to invent her own tea: the Tea Drop.

During the early stages of Tea Drops, a friend of Chandran’s invited her to sell her product at a local fair. Since she was still experimenting, Tea Drops didn’t come with any fancy packaging, and she only had 60 to sell. Within less than an hour, she sold out. This event led her to take the idea further and start her own business.

Sleep Schedule & Lifestyle

During the course of starting a business, especially as a solo founder, Chandran realized that she was compromising her sleep in the beginning. Lack of sleep was affecting her mental health and also interfering with her work day. She made an effort to create a steady bedtime and morning routine to ensure that she could always make the most out of her days:

Bedding Material: Cotton

Mattress: Tempurpedic

Mattress Preference: Hard

Morning:

  1. Wake up at 6:45 AM (Set alarm for 7 AM)

  2. Have a cup of coffee

  3. Read a few quotes from a wisdom quote book and then journal any "fresh out of bed" thoughts.

  4. 5 minutes of meditation

  5. Shower

  6. Arrives at work by 9 AM

  7. Have a cup of tea

Evening:

  1. Physical activity such as Salsa or climbing (certified belayer)

  2. Social events such as drinks or dinner with friends.

  3. Night time beauty routine

  4. Kiehl’s face wash

  5. Trader Joe’s SPA 100% Tea Tree Oil, dilute with water and put on her face

  6. Rosehip Seed Oil

  7. Check emails and read self-empowerment books (Specifically Malcolm Gladwell)

  8. Back in bed by 10:30

“I realized that sleep is non-negotiable. You can strip me of lunch or going outside, but I need 7-8 hrs of sleep.” - Sashee Chandran

Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule and a steady stream of caffeine became increasingly important as Tea Drops became more popular. For a morning boost, Chandran drinks one of her caffeinated drops with her favorite being Cardamon Spice Tea. For those night time reads before bed, she prefers a non-caffeinated drop, such as Citrus Ginger. No matter the situation, there’s a tea drop for everyone’s preferences.

The process

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As the demand for Tea Drops became too much to handle, Chandran expanded to an office space in South San Francisco. After a year, Chandran decided to move back to her hometown of Los Angeles and brought Tea Drops with her. Now, Tea Drops has a total of five employees and is an all-female run company.

When it comes to managing a company and a team, Chandran doesn’t let the stress of making everything “perfect” get to the best of her. Chandran prefers not to micromanage her team and hires people who are not only talented at their craft but who can also be independent in the workplace.

According to Chandran, “No one is born a leader. No one knows how to manage, and I still don’t know, but that’s okay because I’m hiring people that are better than me in specific areas and you have to trust that they know that they’re making the right decision.”

The goal

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In the tea market, you have hippie brands such as Tea Hippie, legacy brands such as Twinings and homemade tea by your grandmother. There is currently no tea brand that speaks to Millennials and Chandran hopes to make her brand the first to do so within the next five years.

“I want Tea Drops to be a global brand that’s fun, hip and impactful to Millenials while becoming a household name.”