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Krisi Smith, Co-Founder & Owner of the award-winning independent tea company Bird & Blend Tea Co. shares their reasons for opening up a store in Norwich, praise for the business community and advice for new and expanding businesses coming to the fast-growing city.

Bird & Blend Tea Co. is an eco-conscious, independent, people-focused, award-winning Tea Company on a mission to spread happiness & reimagine tea! We’re tea mixology experts and with over 100 blends, special seasonal teas & matcha on our famous Tea Wall it’s easy to see why our customers have described us as Tea Magicians! Tea is our TEAm’s passion so whether you’re browsing our website, chatting with us on social media or popping into the store, we’re here to help you explore the magical world of tea!

I set up my company at the age of 23 with my business partner Mike. We had been in Canada working as ski instructors after we graduated from University and didn’t want to return to the UK to work a 9-5 job doing something we weren’t passionate about. We had ideas about doing business differently and wanted to prove it was possible to run a successful business by prioritising people and planet as well as profit. We returned to the UK and started up a loose leaf tea business!

From day one we put sustainability high on our priority list and this has not changed. We keep people & the planet at the forefront of our decision making and went from packing tea in our back bedroom to having 200+ staff, 17 stores (and counting!) across the UK and a thriving international online store. Our company, Bird & Blend is leading the way in tea innovation in the UK!

Norwich seems to have a vibrant and exciting business community.

We tend to open stores in places that have Universities or are popular with tourists – or both! The Norwich store opened in early March, 2022. It was really enjoyable to open a Bird & Blend store in Norwich as it’s very close to the buzzing market – we were able to get a different delicious lunch from there each day! The city is very friendly and welcoming and reminded me of where our first store opened in Brighton.

Norwich seems to have a vibrant and exciting business community. We attended the Brandland conference in Norwich last year which was fantastic and we’ve met a few Norwich-based businesses too including Fountain Partnership.

What advice would you give to anyone opening up/expanding a business to Norwich?

Really get to know the area and the people. The different quarters, the seasonality, the independents that make Norwich thrive and give you point of difference. There are so many business communities within Norwich that are there to help support. Knowing the area- There are two main shopping areas of Norwich, bigger companies tend to go towards Chantry Place, and smaller independent companies will tend to open in the Laines.

Customers – Try your best to appeal to lots of different types of customers- Lots of people travel in to come and spend money in Norwich, as well as there being a large student population (as there are 2 main universities.

Offering lots of vegan options as this is a big thing in Norwich (one of the best vegan cities in the UK!).

Customer service – Making sure your customer service is the best it can be, lots of regulars and returning customers.

Lots of people travel in to come and spend money in Norwich, as well as there being a large student population (as there are 2 main universities).

The Norwich store staff are a wonderful, creative, self- assured team. They create a great vibe in the shop, which is the reason we have so many regulars. Always great to be around and super hard-working. Sarah, our Store Manager, leads the team and she’s been with us for 3 years. Three words to describe them – passionate passionate passionate, and what they don’t know about tea isn’t worth knowing. They love their animals, and if you pop into store you’ll see a collage of them on the CommuniTea Board.

What are some of your favourite shops and businesses in Norwich?

A few of the favourites include Elm (independent homeware/print shop) down Lower Goat Lane, No.19 print shop, Kofra coffee shop, Strangers Coffee, Cinema City, Venus Vinyl record shop.

Bird & Blend create a new loose leaf tea flavour for each store – what inspired the Let’s Be Having Brew tea for Norwich?

It’s hearty, fruity and full of depth, just like Norwich. We wanted the blend to reflect how vibrant & cool Norwich is, we thought it would be fun to play off the infamous Delia Smith moment to make a brew perfect to take to a game!

Considering moving or expanding your business to Norwich?

Find out more about the city’s sectors, commercial property, business support and more here.