Good Karma Tea and Wellness Co. has been in business in Lynchburg for nearly two years, but it’s about to open a new, larger retail and wellness space downtown with the help of a $10,500 Community Business Launch grant.
After settling in to their cozy shop in Riversviews Artspace in 2015, Cameo and Lyndsey Hoyle, founders of Good Karma Tea Company, quickly realized that they needed a bigger space. They connected with Anna Bentson and Marjette Upshur at the Office of Economic Development to ask about what kind of economic incentives were available in the downtown historic district and what local retail space options were available.
“Anna and Marjette were incredible to work with. They gave us information about available spaces,” said Cameo Hoyle, founder of Good Karma Tea Co. “When the CO.STARTERS program was established, they emailed us and suggested that we apply. That opened a new door for us.”
Cameo and Lyndsey completed the nine-week entrepreneurial training program in early May and then participated in the Community Business Launch grant competition. Community Business Launch is a program through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to provide localities with financial support to build a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem.
After pitching at Lynchburg Innovation Week, Good Karma Tea was awarded $10,500 in grant money to help pay for their retail expansion plan. “It’s very surreal,” Hoyle commented, when asked about winning the grant money. “We’re so thankful, and this really will help us to have a more prominent presence in the downtown community.”
Good Karma Tea Company’s new retail space will be just around the corner at Suite 110 in Riverviews downtown. In addition to building out a new, larger storefront with a café and tea bar, the new space will also include a separate room dedicated to Good Karma Wellness’s therapeutic massage and body work services.
The grant money will not only help pay for developing the new retail space, but it will also cover equipment and marketing costs that will enable Good Karma Tea to expand production and open up new wholesale and distribution channels. The new space will be open this fall, and the company plans to hire one part-time employee for Good Karma Tea and another full-time therapist for Wellness.
The CO.STARTERS program proved to be a beneficial step forward for Cameo and Lyndsey’s business.
“CO.STARTERS takes away a lot of the guesswork,” said Hoyle. “When we first went into the program, we had already been in business for a year and a half, but we weren’t sure how to tie the two sides of our businesses together. Good Karma Tea and Wellness operate symbiotically now, but CO.STARTERS really helped us take a look at how we could shape our business plan to support both in a unified way.”
When asked if she had a piece of advice for local entrepreneurs in Lynchburg, Cameo Hoyle said:
“Plan. And also learn to balance. It’s really important to not fall into the stress of starting a business. You need to have those happy moments to balance out your work, or else you’ll burn yourself out really quickly.”
Are you an entrepreneur? Don’t miss the next CO.STARTERS course taking place in August, 2016!