From as early as he can remember, Reginald Quarles, Founder of Teatopia® in St. Louis Missouri, always loved tea. He also always wanted to open his own business. After leaving a frustrating corporate job, Reginald decided it was time to take steps to open a tea shop and tap into his mental health training. Reginald says, “I wanted to create a peaceful, relaxing space where people feel welcome and can find calm. I also wanted to teach people about the large varieties of tea available.” He explains: “Black males don’t typically own tea shops, but I wanted to open a place that was not seen as the normal type of business; I wanted to open a place where people could come to relax, be at peace and enjoy amazing food, tea and smoothies.”
Reginald connected with a SCORE mentor, Richard Toman. “Richard met with me several times per week at the beginning. He kept me accountable when I was looking for store locations and developing my business plan. He helped me a lot,” says Reginald.
In 2017, Reginald opened Teatopia® with a light menu and about 150 high-quality teas from all over the world. Every detail of his business is thoughtful, from the music and décor to the way each client is given a pot of tea and timer. He explains, “We help our clients stay present. They steep their own tea until the timer goes off, then strain the tea and pour it themselves.” He calls this process “active meditation.”
Reginald is proud of the business he’s built and grateful for support from SCORE. He’s fully committed to growing his business and plans to expand online and into other major cities. With hard work, he believes anything is possible.
In starting Teatopia, Quarles made up for not having a business background by using the business blueprint on SCORE’s website, taking classes, and meeting with SCORE mentor Richard Toman. Working with SCORE helped him to keep up his resolve after a very long search for a location.
“SCORE also helped me with finding a reputable accountant to help me understand the language of numbers that I was not familiar with,” Quarles adds. Having an accountant meant he could pay his employees and develop a growth mindset.
Quarles says that although starting a business is hard work, “when you love it and when you are having fun with it, you will fight tooth and nail to make sure your passion succeeds.”