Mikayla Stinson is a tea lover and has managed to grow it into a thriving tea business called Kenneth Ave Co.
The Guelph resident, who was born and raised in Erin, recalls her first experience with tea was drinking peppermint tea at a young age for irritable bowel syndrome.
“I have many memories of my Oma (grandmother) making me peppermint tea in the morning to soothe my stomach,” she said.
Today, Stinson owns a business that sells several loose leaf tea blends. The company enjoys strong support from tea lovers in the community.
Stinson said a lot of people may think tea is basic, but she doesn’t.
“I try to use my tea business and my platform to share cool drinks with teas, like tea lattes and tea lemonade, to try to make tea fun, while still delivering the benefits,” she said.
Kenneth Ave Co (named after the street she grew up on) offers a variety of iced tea blends, like pina colada or peach, and tea-based dessert blends, like birthday cake, vanilla chai and more. The company also sells blends for stress, anxiety, sleep, digestion and pregnancy.
Stinson isn’t the first person in his family involved in tea. She said her aunt sold tea to clients of her physiotherapy business before moving to British Columbia in 2020.
All herbs used in tea blends for Kenneth Ave Co come from a company that is part of the Ethical Tea Partnership, an organization that monitors and regulates living and working conditions on tea estates around the world, creating jobs in developing countries.
“She was looking for someone to take her over and that’s when I took over the relationship with the supplier, and that’s when I started selling tea,” said said Stinson, who took it over while he was still in school. “I really wanted to be a business owner, and with the benefits that tea has given me, it seemed like the right choice to share it with everyone.”
After taking it over, Stinson made changes to make the company more sustainable, such as using glass jars with bamboo lids instead of tin cans. She got the idea from seeing how much waste a business can generate.
“Our glass jars can be returned or refilled through our reuse program,” Stinson said, adding that the company also uses biodegradable tea bags.
Stinson notes that more and more customers are opening up to sustainability and looking for it in their shopping experience. She said she continues to come up with new ideas to become a sustainable business.
“I think the fact that Guelph is such a green community has also been such a benefit to our business,” Stinson said. “Retailers, they represent the majority of my business, so without their support I don’t know if I would still be in business. I was able to reach a whole new audience through them.”
With Kenneth Ave Co blend teas in 13 locations across Ontario, Stinson said he plans to expand the business to offer more varieties of coffee (the company currently sells three blends) and eventually to have its own storefront in five years. Residents can also find company tea and video tutorials for tea drinks online at kennethaveco.com.
In October 2021, Stinson mentions that she has achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a real estate agent. With her two businesses, she also hopes to keep Kenneth Ave Co within the family.
“It’s nice to be able to pass it on, and hopefully I can turn it into something bigger and hopefully pass it on to generations,” she said.