It all started at her kitchen counter.
Aureal Ojeda, 32, was overweight, prediabetic and losing her vision. She started drinking tea to replace the other foods and drinks she’d have throughout the day, and it became something more.
“I started researching the different teas I was drinking and looking into the importance of tea and ingesting things from Mother Earth,” she said. “I became more appreciative of tea once I knew its benefits and history.”
She decided to combine her passion for the health benefits of tea with one that bettered the planet, and she opened Outwoken Tea in 2018.
Her company, located at 4300 W. Lincoln Ave., seeks to challenge Milwaukeeans to make conscious decisions that positively affect the environment.
“Within my community, we take part in community cleanups,” she said. “I turned my front yard into a community garden. We partnered with a nonprofit organization to help reduce single-use plastic locally,” she said.
Outwoken Tea sources its tea from small tea farms in developing countries and has a partnership with One Tree Planted, an environmental nonprofit. For each Outwoken Tea purchase, a tree is planted.
The company’s packaging is created to leave zero waste behind. Its boxes are recyclable and naturally biodegradable. The tape it uses is biodegradable and made from renewable plant-based materials and rubber adhesives.
Ojeda “puts a lot of time and energy into assuring she has the right products to sell,” said Ed Byrnes, a small business consultant for WWBIC, which helped Outwoken build its brand. “From the beginning, her big push was that everything is environmentally friendly.” WWBIC, a statewide economic development corporation, offers loans, classes and resources for those who want to start or grow their businesses.
Byrnes said that businesspeople like Ojedea are rare because usually they want to go the cheapest route and sustainability is not cheap.
Matthew Karge, an Outwoken Tea customer, said the tea is just good — and the fact that it helps sustainability efforts is a happy plus.
“I met Aureal one time at a farmers market and I tried the Bold Blue tea,” Karge said. “It was amazing. I couldn’t get enough of it; so I kept going back.”
While her tea journey started because of her health, Ojeda’s entrepreneurial journey began because of a bad day on the job. She worked for almost a decade as a seasonal construction worker.
“There was a storm, and my truck was stuck. I was knee high in dirt and garbage, and the wind was so strong, a plastic pouch smacked me right in the face,” she said. “At the same moment, I was watching birds around me.” Including “one choking on a bottle cap.”
Ojeda said it was that day she decided to create her company.
“I know that I can’t save the world,” she said. “But running this business has shown me that one person can make a difference.”
For more information
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Donna Flees says
I have to say that I, too, met Aureal at West Allis Christmas market several years ago, and bought each of her Outwoken teas. I shop for several different brands of organic teas, try to shop local, and was really happy with her unique tea blends. I agree with the person quoted above stating the Bold Blue is his favorite… mine too! Also, Aureal answered my email question about the teas quickly. Give Outwoken a try!