IDEALLY a holiday relaxes the brain from work. For sisters-in-law Claire and Hayley Mears, it gave them the seed for their startup.
Hayley, the Novocastrian owner of a Sydney media agency, and Claire, a police officer who lives in Newcastle, were in Bali in February with their husbands and extended family when they went to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail.
With three children under four between them, they found it impossible to linger at the bar so they asked staff to pour their cocktail into a takeaway coffee cup. It got them thinking about how to create a “mobile” cocktail and the need for something fun and convenient in the drinks market.
Back home they researched and came up with alcohol tea bombs.
“The name tea bomb comes from our flavour delivery method – that is, a tea bag – but the contents are botanicals, not tea,” says Hayley.
“We are are infusing botanicals in various flavours into alcohol, just like you would a cocktail.”
They devised five flavours including Don Draper (with cinnamon, star anise, cloves and orange peel and best soaked in red wine, rum and whiskey) and The Midsummer Eve (elderflower, lemon, strawberries and mint, best mixed with a vodka drink or a glass of bubbly).
By April they had the tea bombs ready under their “boho luxe” brand Lifestyle Notion, with other products including string bags and crystal coasters.
“We wanted to use our eye for fashion and love for homewares and incorporate it into a business that is scaleable,” says Hayley.
They had a stall at Hunt & Gather market in Newcastle to test the waters and the response to the tea bombs was “insane”.
“Our target market, intentional or not, is millenials because they love all the convenience and they are into innovation, ” says Hayley.
Claire made the first 2000 tea bombs by hand but demand has been so great that the women are now finalising a local production deal to enable them to keep up.
The products are designed for the eco-conscious consumer and free of sulphates, parabens, petrolatum and nasties. Both women say they are passionate about the environment and shop sustainably where possible.
“We both have children, we love the country and we don't want to do damage to it – my husband and I do a lot of camping,” says Claire.
For now, life is all about juggling jobs and family with a start-up that feels full-time: “We are used to working around the clock and behind screens at all hours and though it's not our primary source of income now we still spend enough time on it that it feels that way,” says Hayley.