Fueling Optimism and Community Wellness With Business One Cup at Time

Tea cups with teapot on old wooden table. Top view.
Tea cups with teapot on old wooden table. Top view.

I was born square in the middle of the massive, confusing, buzz-worthy generation known as the Millennials. Although I hate to put myself into that giant box, I recognize that I fit many stereotypes of my generation: I graduated with student debt in the middle of an economic crisis, the United States has been at war for more than half of my life, and most of my peers live paycheck to paycheck. Millennials get a bad rap for many traits that I unfortunately can't exclude myself from, but the characteristic I most like to identify with is my unwavering Millennial optimism for the future. Despite the challenges I faced as I entered the workforce, I have chosen a career that gives me purpose as well as success. My expanding role over the past four years at The Tea Spot, a certified B Corporation, has helped to fuel my hopeful approach to life and has shaped my career not only as a driven woman, but also as a force for good in the world.

I'll be honest; before I started working for The Tea Spot - an innovative tea and teaware company with a robust philanthropic arm - I didn't know what a B Corp was. I got the job through a friend of a friend and I was mostly grateful that I could use my degree for something other than waiting tables. It didn't take long, however, to realize that this small but mighty company was about more than just serving up a delicious cuppa. Founded in 2004, The Tea Spot actively supports the wellness of our community, our employees, and our customers by donating 10% of all sales in-kind to cancer wellness and community programs. This 10% Pledge was put into action by founder and cancer survivor Maria Uspenski, but our mission of promoting health and wellness with our product is embraced fully by every member of our team. This generosity isn't a marketing ploy; it's our way of putting our money where our mouth is - literally, one healthy mouthful of tea at a time.

For The Tea Spot, becoming a certified B Corp in 2011 was a way to have a third party formally quantify our donation efforts, but as we grow into a larger company, our certification means much more than just our 10% Pledge. We strive to constantly be a positive link in the tea supply chain by always sourcing high quality ingredients and materials, and we aim to make our tea blends as delicious as possible so that the enjoyment and health benefits of tea can be spread far and wide. We've made a concerted effort to substantially expand our organic line in recent years not only to keep up with growing demand, but also to help reduce our impact on the environment. As we continue to grow, we look to the example set forth by other B Corps to guide us and help us shape an employee culture that encourages lasting and fulfilling jobs for each member of our workforce. These efforts aren't just to make ourselves feel good. Every year we are contacted by hundreds of people who thank us for sharing our story and products, and who share their own tale of survival and wellness. These personal stories fuel us through every extra hour we put in at work and every extra effort we make to lift those around us.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the problems that our world faces: climate change, poverty, disease, and warfare. By taking small steps as a company, The Tea Spot is part of a fast-growing movement to expand the definition of good business, and a group that is poised to make large changes in the world. Now present in 50 countries, B Corporations have become more than a few small businesses taking small steps. This attitude of collective change-making is what drew me into The Tea Spot, and it's what encourages The Tea Spot to continue to shine within this community. Whether the B Corp movement mirrors the millennial attitude or vice versa, this enthusiastic community of like-minded individuals and businesses encourage us to believe that it is possible to have it all: a thriving career, a profitable passion, and the ability to use business as a positive influence in the world. For The Tea Spot, our philanthropy and sustainability efforts aren't just an important part of our roots, it's a vital part of our decision-making process and the driving force that gives our work purpose.

The B Corp Life is a new blog series geared towards exploring what it's like to work at a benefit corporation. Why do b corps matter, and what does the future hold for them? Let us know at PurposePlusProfit@huffingtonpost.com or by tweeting with #TheBCorpLife.