Member of the Month: Karolina Ba

Member of the Month: Karolina Ba
Karolina Ba

Posted: Mon 3rd Jul 2023

Congratulations to our Member of the Month for June, Karolina Ba, founder of the award-winning wellbeing programme, THEENK TEA.

Karolina has garnered quite a loyal following since launching in 2019. She talks about normalising mental health, preventative care and giving back by being one of the “good guys”.

THEENK TEA is now supplied by SelfridgesVirgin Experience Days and last year, made it onto the shelves of Holland & Barrett. Karolina explains:

“It was a proud moment but getting there and staying there are two different things. Do you know how many businesses are fighting for that spot?

The moment of seeing your products on the shelf and realising that they're all over the country in 600 different stores was incredible.”



How did you get the idea for THEENK TEA?

I officially launched THEENK TEA in November 2019, but I first had the idea in late 2017. It took me around two years to go from an idea to launching the business.

I used to suffer from depression and anxiety and was on antidepressants. At the time, I was also looking for something more natural to help me take care of my mental health and wellbeing in the longer term. I experimented with different things, such as herbal remedies.

I'm from Poland, and we use herbal teas for different ailments and purposes. It's very normal to go to a regular shop in Poland and find hundreds of different teas on the shelf.

I started to research and use herbs in different methods. Some were more successful than others but then I started to feel better. I was able to create a daily routine to support my mental health.

In 2017, I was in my final year at university and noticed students taking prescription medication to learn faster and just be able to keep up at university. It was a real problem, and no-one realised how bad it would be in the long term.

This prompted me to start my research again and I discovered that there was nothing on the market that was using natural herbs to improve not only your mental health but also brain function. I worked with a nutritionist and clinical herbalist to create our 21-day programme of three distinct herbal tea blends for different stages of the day.

How did COVID affect your business?

I launched five months before the pandemic. There was a launch campaign prepared and plans to attend events and then COVID hit. I was in my first year of business and was not an online marketing expert, so it was a challenging time.

I didn't have a large marketing budget, so I had to take advantage of every opportunity that came my way. That is something I mainly learnt during COVID.

For example, although everything closed down, there were lots of different new opportunities as bigger companies wanted to support small businesses. I won a competition where THEENK TEA ads were put on bus stops all over Bristol for three weeks. This would normally cost a lot of money but we got it for free!

Coming out the other side, COVID has changed things – the way we look at mental health. The conversation has finally started because before that no-one spoke about it.

Also, after being locked in our homes for so long, it made us realise what we were missing. More people started to go back to nature and by that, I mean not moving to a forest, but rather thinking more about what we eat, drink and how we spend our time. And in that sense, our company is now 'on trend'.


THEENK TEA - Selfridges 

How does sustainability feature in your business plan?

Our products are good for people and of course the planet. We're not only advocating normalising mental health, but we also don't use any plastic in our packaging.

The teabags are packed with foil made from wood pulp, corn starch and other plant materials so it's compostable. The teabags too are made mostly from corn starch, so people don't get microplastics in their tea.

Every single small business has a responsibility right now to show the big guys the new way forward. It's much easier to implement something from the very start rather than when you have a multi-million-employee organisation where you have to go through millions of forms to get anything done.

It's our responsibility to do our best and make sure that our products are as sustainable as possible from the start.



What's next for THEENK TEA?

I've learnt that you can plan a lot but it's not always going to happen. I'm trying to be more mindful of my time and my mental health. I'm trying to take a step back and run the business more mindfully rather than chasing all those different goals.

However, looking forward, I would like to move most of the business online, grow the direct-to-consumer side and help as many people as I can. Rather than focus on profitability and the numbers all the time, I like to go back and focus on the people.


THEENK TEA - EN and Uber 

What part has Enterprise Nation played in your entrepreneurial journey?

I hadn't even launched the business when I first heard of Enterprise Nation. I was in Bristol at the time, and I went to a female business event. It was also an awards show, and I had a great time. I decided to join as a member and took part in a lot of other events and workshops.

I was part of the Oxford pop-up event two years ago and am also now in the new video showreel. Enterprise Nation has been such a huge help to grow my business.



I'm also a mentor as part of the Help to Grow: Management Course. When I started, I had a mentor. It was a great experience because when you start a business, you don't have any idea what you're doing. It's great to have someone who can listen to you and give you advice from time to time.

Over the course of my business journey, I've met many different people and not all of them were great. I met some who tried to take advantage and gave me bad advice – advice that isn't good for you personally just to sell you a product or service.

I thought why not sign up as a mentor and be one of the good guys, help someone and give back in this way?

Want to be part of the Enterprise Nation community like Karolina? Sign up for free.

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Karolina Ba
Hey! My name is Karolina and I'm the founder of THEENK which is a set of super functional herbal remedies designed t naturally support healthy brain function and mental wellbeing. Since launching the business as a one-woman band shortly before the pandemic I built a great and unique brand, got us listings in Selfridges, Holland and Barrett, Virgin Experience Days and more. We won multiple awards including Great Taste and Nourish and went on to be featured in multiple publications.

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