This story was originally published on centrocommunity.org.
Bernadette Aguirre is a first-generation Filipina American from San Francisco, California. She is the founder of INA Botanicals & Tea, an herbal and specialty tea company that is dedicated to supporting personal growth and wellness.
Bernadette started selling her products in 2021 in San Francisco. She has since expanded her business to include online sales through a California Department of Public Health license.
Bernadette’s love for tea and herbs started when she was a young professional in New York City over 15 years ago. She would start her day with a cup of Earl Grey tea from the local bodega. Soon, she discovered the holistic health benefits of tea and herbs. As she became busier in her marketing and product development career, tea and herbs provided moments of reprieve through herbal self-care rituals.
When Bernadette became pregnant with her first child, she couldn’t find a product that met her quality, flavor, and support expectations. There also wasn’t a brand that resonated with her busy, city lifestyle. This is when the idea of INA Botanicals & Tea was born.
Overcoming Challenges as A Solo Entrepreneur
Starting a business can be a lonely journey, and Bernadette faced her share of challenges. However, she persevered and was able to get her products into a few retailers and build a loyal customer base.
Bernadette works closely with her father, who helps her in the kitchen. She also has a team of consultants in sales and social media. Her family has been instrumental in supporting her entrepreneurial journey. Her husband, parents, and extended family provide moral and logistical support.
Bernadette believes in the power of community and works to educate others about the benefits of herbs and teas. She provides tips on how to drink tea as a self-care ritual. She also shares information on teas through digital platforms and in-person events.
From Entrepreneurial Dream to Reality
Bernadette always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur, and her passion for tea and herbs fueled her entrepreneurial journey. She received an MBA and worked in leadership positions to gain the skills she needed to start her business.
I like having a broad and detailed view on every aspect of the business from product development, operations, marketing and finance. There’s so much to learn and it’s fun to come up with a business strategy, putting all the disciplines of businesses together. It’s like a puzzle to be solved.
Bernadette joined Centro Community Partners through the Kiva lending program. She was endorsed by Centro during her Kiva fundraising campaign from October to November 2022. Through the Centro Capital Hub, she received Centro’s endorsement, which provided credibility to her campaign and contributed to her success in becoming fully funded through Kiva. Bernadette encourages other entrepreneurs to find support groups to provide accountability and structure on their entrepreneurial journey.
She is currently working on a sales strategy and reaching out to target retailers in the Bay Area. Her goal is to get into at least 10 retailers or cafes in the first quarter of 2023. Bernadette’s passion and dedication to her business, combined with her strong support network, are sure to lead to continued success for INA Botanicals & Tea.