Stories and Articles
Tea & Trumpets – Mark Bowden
In an area of the country known more for wine than for tea, Mark Bowden (’11, management) has founded his business based on the notion that tea drinkers like himself were lacking local options to purchase high quality packets of their favorite beverage.
After his graduation from SDSU, Bowden moved back to his hometown of Santa Rosa, California to take a job at a pharmaceutical company, but soon realized he wasn’t happy. Even after he went to work for another pharmaceutical company, he “still found it hard to get up in the morning” and knew he had to make a change – both in his career and in his life.
"There is something irreplaceably soothing about a cup of tea and I found the health and medical uses of tea intriguing." - Mark Bowden
As with so many other successful entrepreneurs, the 26-year-old Bowden turned his passion into a business. “One of the things I thoroughly enjoy about my day is drinking tea,” he said. “There is something irreplaceably soothing about a cup of tea and I found the health and medical uses of tea intriguing.” He also found it hard to find good quality loose-leaf tea and realized this might be an overlooked market in the region.
With that in mind, he started his organic loose-leaf tea wholesale business, Tea & Trumpets in early 2014. He chose the name based on an inside joke he shares with his mother. When he was about five-years-old his mother told him that some people in England have tea and crumpets every day. He responded by saying “Let’s have tea and trumpets every day like they do in England.”
With the advice of a successful local coffee vendor who serves as his mentor, Bowden
chose to offer only USDA organic tea which he began selling at farmers’ markets throughout
the region. “When I wrote my business plan, I developed some mock projections based
on the foot traffic at the markets and the estimated average customer’s purchase,”
said Bowden. “The conclusions showed that I would have to sell a ton of tea just to
make a little bit of money. But I still knew I had to try this and I soon came to
realize that my projections were too conservative.”
“The best part of owning my business is in knowing that my customers truly value what I am selling and I enjoy watching them get excited about my products,” said Bowden. “The worst part is that my social life has taken a back seat since my best markets are on weekends which are when most people are free.”A year later, Bowden is still selling his tea at local farmers’ markets and the exposure there allowed him to expand his sales model. He is now offering his product online as well as in restaurants and retail stores in Sonoma County.