GTPulse: Traverse City Brothers Start Their Own Small Business Through Tea
Is there anything more cozy than making tea on a snowy day? Brothers Dexter and Riley Lamie don’t think so. They’ve taken their passion for tea and combined it with a little bit of book smarts, a little bit of family and a whole lot of love with their new tea company Lamie Wellness.
The Traverse City born and raised brothers are Irish twins at only 18 months apart, and it’s a fool’s task to determine which one is older.
“People in school thought I was older,” Riley, the younger of the two said. “He didn’t have any facial hair.”
Dexter and Riley both went to Michigan State where they roomed together. Dexter studied hospitality through the business school and Riley studied finance. The two graduated this past May and hit the ground running. Lamie Wellness became incorporated in April of this year.
I met the two at their Barlow Street location where they do all of their storing and packaging. Dexter made us all tea on a pretty blue and white Japanese tea set and the two told me all about their love of drinking and making tea.
I haven’t been surrounded by many men that drink tea regularly throughout my life. I developed a love for tea by drinking it with my grandmother. She had beautiful china that had winding roses, lilies, daisies and freesias. She’d make up a serving tray for us with different kinds of tea, honey, sugar and juicy slices of lemon. The memories are so vivid to me, still and the Lamie brothers’ love for tea began in a similar way.
Dexter and Riley’s mom also was an avid tea drinker and kept tea in the house while they were growing up.
“She had loose leaf tea which is interesting because when you go to the grocery stores the aisles are saturated with bagged tea. I think the culture and the quality is very different between the two,” Dexter said.
Lamie Wellness makes loose-leaf blends. Flavors like Cinnamon Roll (black tea, cinnamon chips and Madagascar vanilla) and Earl Grey are standby favorites that will appeal to many taste buds, but to those looking for something to appeal to their sense of calm and serenity, adaptogenic blends like Mood Boost or Lights Out Lavender can have subtle physical effects on the body.
“It’s a lot of research. For the Mood Boost specifically, we built that to be really uplifting. St. John’s Wort, turmeric, lemon balm, and the eleuthero root in it is energizing. It’s not caffeinated but if you drink a mug of it you’ll definitely feel a little buzz,” Riley said.
Their tea blends are fair-trade organic but are not yet locally sourced, but Dexter said that’s something that they hope to be able to transition to as the business grows. They prefer loose leaf tea over bagged tea not just because of the enhanced taste, but also because of the ceremony and ritual that goes into preparing tea. “There’s always a conversation to be had around tea. Whether it’s business or not, it’s always good conversation. We’ve met some really interesting people through doing this business.”
The Lamie brothers are proud of their tea, and that pride is affirmed by the community. The young company already has teas being carried at Leland Mercantile, Red Dresser, 231 Resort, West Bay Handmade, Green Tree, and HNM Wellness. They had initially planned on being an e-commerce tea shop but when the website went live, business was slow.
“Once we started online it was very slow, it has been very slow since.”
They started working at the Interlochen Farmers Market with success. Guests liked the product and both Dexter and Riley found the feedback encouraging and motivating. They got a late start with applying to be in markets this year, but that’s only prepared them better for next year.
“We also did craft shows and we didn’t really plan in advance for them, so we were pretty much on the waitlist for all the craft shows up here and we got into a couple of them. Being out first year, there’s so much to learn. Next year we’ll book all of those in advance.”
If you missed them at the farmers market this year, you can try Lamie Wellness teas through any of their local carriers as well as online so you can fall in love with their loose leaf tea.