Each year in January I do a intention setting day, where I review the previous year personally and professionally and I set intentions and milestones for the year ahead. I come up with one word and the word was "change" for 2023. For the first couple of months nothing really changed and I was beginning to question my intuition, but suddenly everything changed.
- My partner and I decided to move to Melbourne where I birthed Chai Walli which meant moving our home and the Chai Walli factory!
- After 6 trips back and forth to Melbourne from Sydney I found the next Chai Walli premises to allow us to grow in a sustainable manner.
- I found out I had severe endometriosis and needed to get a laparoscopic surgery to remove it.
- My partner and I found a home in the Dandenong Ranges where we decided to move to.
And we actually did all these things and it had taken a mammoth of an effort to move a full factory with pallet racking, get all the trades work commenced (epoxy flooring, plumbing, food safe stuff etc) and then somehow move ourselves to Melbourne as well! And gosh, the laparoscopy surgery recovery is not great!
In the midst of all these changes, I've tried to ensure that Chai Walli remains business as usual and a huge shout out to Annie in Sydney and Manjusha in Melbourne from our Chai Walli team for supporting me along the way. We've had some amazing achievements which include:
- We blended and made tonnes of chai this year and sold enough bags of chai on our online store and to our stockist to serve around 250,000 cups of chai!
- We did some amazing pop up chai catering events for International Women's Day and RU OKAY Day.
- I was engaged to be a panel speaker at Accenture's International Women's Day event.
- Deakin University created a custom Chai Walli blend with us for their corporate gifting. It looks amazing in our compostable bags.
- Our chai is officially Indian grandmother approved!
- On a solo trip I had to Fiji before my laparscopy surgery, I taught all the resort staff at a place I stayed at in Fiji how to brew masala chai because I obviously can't go without chai when I travel.
- I won a Women of Colour (WOC) writing competition to write and present a poem about the #metoo movement and how WOC have been left out of the conversation. You can listen to it here (please note that there is explicit and triggering content before my poem at 34 minutes as there are stories being read before mine) or read my poem here.
Those who are signed up to our newsletter have gotten a little insight to my personal journey. Over the last couple of years, I’ve taken a conscious step inward to focus on my health and wellbeing in order to heal from childhood trauma. Healing is a lifelong journey, but it’s become more apparent to me that in order to heal we need to share our stories. The good, the bad and especially the ugly. Through all of this, Chai Walli has been my rock. The days where I seriously questioned whether I could be the boss lady I imagined myself to be, the world would send me a reminder through one of you, as a customer or a fan, with the most amazing feedback on our products or a reminder that I inspired them to start their own business. There is so much we don’t hear about or know of the realities of what it’s like for others. Especially when injuries are not visible.
We are now officially operating from Melbourne and will be working to build up our team again. We've had a few set backs with council and trades work that we needed to do to our facilities which has caused some delays with orders. But we hope to have better processes in place in the new year to help us grow in a manageable way where we can continue the art and culture of creating our beautiful blends. Some things we are working towards for 2024 are:
- Zero waste packaging
- Hiring a sales rep and a marketing person to support our brand
- Focusing on what we do best: masala chai
- Improving and innovating the Chai Walli experience
- Launching a new range of workshops
- Building a strong sense of community through monthly public tea nights
- Doing what we do best: making the world's best masala chai
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support, your reviews, all your love letters, all your messages of kindness and your notes. They do not go unnoticed, we see them all and we smile and we cry when we read them. Thank you, behind all the cups of chai and achievements, we are human and we are trying our best. Sometimes things don't work out how they're planned, but knowing we have this amazing community of Chai Walli lovers around us that are also as human as we are makes it worth it.
Thank you for another year of growth, changes and learnings.
Stay spicy my lovely community!
Uppma and the Chai Walli team