As avid travellers here at House of Coco magazine, when we stumbled across PLŪKT tea and their tea sachets that are perfect for travel, we were hooked. Their tea is popular amongst our team which lead to intrigue, just who IS behind this brand?
The brand has introduced the world to herbal teas from the meadows and forests of Northern Europe and PLŪKT proudly call themselves the pioneers of Nordic tea culture.
We spent some time with the founder Mara Lieplapa to find out more…
Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching PLŪKT…
My family always encouraged to follow my own path, try as many things as possible and use my talents. So this entrepreneurial mindset was encouraged from early days, also in school we received lots of support to starting our own student businesses. So my first one was when I was 14 years old – I made grain pillows (all organic and from natural materials) which could be warmed up and later on used to relief joint pains and headaches. Also then the motivation and mission was quite similar to that of PLŪKT – bring joy, comfort and build something meaningful and beneficial. When I started university I was actively looking for my own business idea – attending all the conferences I could possibly attend, taking part in student competitions, trade shows, events, gatherings. All the places where I could meet entrepreneurs, have inspiration and contacts. I also used every opportunity to do exchange studies (in Sweden, Austria), so I gathered quite some international network, too. I had a chance to attend exchange trip to China where I visited their local “Silicon valley” in Beijing. I was amazed by all the startup ecosystem and innovations they are building. However, a few blocks away there was this very traditional tea market there. And suddenly all the dots and questions connected – what if I could create a Nordic tea culture by building brand which acts in a startup-like manner? It would allow me to connect my love for nature and purpose with fast-growing, innovative startup ecosystem. In fact, my mother has a wide knowledge of Northern European herbs and I thoughts that this is a resource that we already have in order to start a science-based company. After coming back, we started to create branding and design for PLŪKT. I was then 21 year old.
Also, I have always been passionate about international environment so it was my mission to build export-oriented brand. Today, PLŪKT exports 70% of products.
Being a sustainable brand is at the forefront of what you do, why was this important to you?
I grew up in a family where both parents are related to environmental sciences and nature preservation. Since we were kids, my sibling and I were always taught to take care of nature, find our peace and passion there. We spent incredible amount of time in nature. It seemed such a common sense back then, but in reality it was a privilege knowing how many people in the world have never seen such natural wilderness that we experienced from early age. Of course, this respect for nature has been within me since then and while I was looking for my business idea I had this ultimatum – I want to build something that benefits people and nature. Not to build just another thing in the world which will end up somewhere. I wanted to show the love for wilderness and nature through PLŪKT, at the same time raising awareness of biodiversity in Northern Europe and why it matters to preserve it. PLŪKT branding and design reflects exactly that. People fancy it and they are loving the message. I believe people don’t want to hurt something that they love or fancy, therefore there is a hope that they won’t harm nature either.
How do you want people to feel when they drink your tea?
First of all, joy, pure joy. I want them to feel connected with their authentic self, take it as a moment for themselves or for something that has high meaning in their lives. We are all so busy being busy that oftentimes do not prioritize enough the beautiful authenticity that lies within each and every one of us. We hope that PLŪKT tea time encourages to open up to ourselves for exploration. We love to see people taking PLŪKT with them to their favourite activities – be that a hiking trip, a travel, an on-the-go morning while living “big city life moment”, yoga class, meetup with friends and most importantly when surprising someone with this nourishing gift. Just like in nature, no two flowers or leaves are the same, so aren’t people. Wildlife inspired us to build authentic brand, therefore we hope that people feel this connection with nature while having a cuppa.
Looking back since launching the brand, is there anything you would do differently?
I would be louder (as in, less shy). Being rather an introverted person, I would oftentimes be seen as “the quite one” while in reality I had so much to say! Ultimately, it turned out into PLŪKT. As a young entrepreneur, it was always a challenge to gain recognition, gain respect and oftentimes society labeled “the loud ones” as those who are most impactful and have achieved something in their lives. Meanwhile, I was building PLŪKT in solitude and up to date am still cherishing the fact that my actions speak louder than words.
Also, I wish I have learned to ask for help and advice much more earlier. It would have saved me lots of time and some money, too.
Who’s involved in the business and what are their roles?
Co-founder Līga is responsible for all the science behind herbs and tea. She is our tea Master and holds the knowledge of benefits of herbal teas and comes up with new tea blends. She is also my mother and we make a good team, however we are not the typical family business. We encourage and are constantly looking for new talents to join our team. We have superpeople for social media, hard-working and accurate ladies working in manufacturing. And let’s not forget those over 30 family-owned farms who are supplying certified-organic herbs from wild meadows and forests.
Talk us through an average day in your life…
I wake up at 6-6:30am. I do a quick workout and stretching for about 20 minutes to get my body going. On Sunday nights I make a schedule for the upcoming week, however I am leaving Mondays as very flexible. I notice that on Mondays there are so many events suddenly coming up that can change the whole plans in instant. First part of the day is very productive for me so I work on the long-term plans at this time of the day. I have relatively late lunch, around 2pm, but I always eat wholesome and rich breakfast. Perhaps my favourite meal of the day. In the afternoon I love to change my working environment and choose to work from home, from a café or coworking space. Since I started my MBA studies in Finland, I have been traveling between Finland and Latvia quite often. And honestly, the more I am on the go, the more I get done because there is no time to overthink or expand too much in your texts. In office, it might feel otherwise. Afternoons are for meetings and lighter tasks. I would do some project visualisations, mood boards and creative activities. I end my work day around 4pm. Then I go for some hobbies – hiking, climbing, running, dancing or going for a cake with friends. Give a call or face time my family. Have a dinner and some me time, which could include reading, journaling, visualization and just thinking. I leave some room for spontaneity and if I notice a nice concert or event happening right now, chances are that I will go for it. Often I have late evening Zoom calls with business partners in US or likewise very early ones with partners located in Asia. I love this dynamics.
Do you plan on expanding the range in the future to offer more than tea?
We are already experimenting with different cold drinks where PLŪKT tea is used as a basis. Also we work on tea ware collection and development of other accessories relevant to tea.
What do you do when you are lacking creativity?
I get very active and sporty. I have always had so much energy and when I don’t feel creative I just know that my energy has been piled up for a while and just asks for release. I love climbing, hiking, running. Part of my love will always belong to dancing which was the second option of mine when I was thinking of career path. Oftentimes if I really need to come with something, but nothing amazing is coming up I go with “done is better than perfect”. The thing is, through these 3-4 years with PLŪKT I have learned to trust myself a lot and I am sure that creativity will come as soon as I start working on the task. I love what I am doing so naturally I want it to work out as good as possible. One thing I can tell for sure, tasks regarding administration, bureaucracy etc. definitely are decreasing my levels of creativity and therefore I schedule days just for these ones, so they would not interrupt creative parts of the business too much. 😊
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
A lot, most of the media has deepened their connection with our story through social media.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
“If you sell the excitement, you sell the jet.” I remember hearing this in one of the conferences about 5-6 years ago. I was thinking to myself – yeah, resource-wise, I really don’t have much to offer at the moment as a student. But I do have a time, enthusiasm and energy! Sometimes that is all it takes to go from 0 to 10, especially when lacking motivation. Getting excited for how much you have done already and enthusiastic for the upcoming journey. It is charming and this kind of energy attracts.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is on your must visit list?
Since I can remember, Nepal and hiking Everest basecamp has been on my bucket list. And fortunately this is another dream that will come true later this year! Now my next dream destinations are Cancun in Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea and Chile.
What does self care mean to you?
It means saying “no” to things that are not of use AND are not bringing me joy. These days it is easy to get lost in all the requests and needs of others. Self care is remembering to prioritizing your values and your time.
Self care is taking time off without waiting for breakdown. It is about scheduling your hobbies, quality time with friends and family just the way you schedule your daily work tasks.
One of my personal favourite self care activity is baking cakes and making pastries in combination with a hike later in day.
Where do you see the brand in the next 5 years?
Still ad the pioneers of Nordic tea culture and hosting international tea mastercups in our tea house in Madona region, Latvia. We are a recognized player in tea world. By then, Nordic Black tea – caffeine free alternative to black tea made from wild Fireweed herb – has become the thing and becoming the standard in tea world. I see that there are over 300 certified organic farms joining our supplier network in order to protect biodiversity of Northern Europe.
Where can people find out more?
Our Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok @plukttea
Contact us [email protected]
We have retailers and distributors in 18 countries so feel free to reach out and learn where is the closest place to have a cup of PLŪKT tea.