Founder Q&A: Krisi Smith, Bird & Blend Tea Co.

Inspiration

In recent years, we’ve seen a steady rise of innovative and exciting teas sweeping retail shelves. But very few brands have built any sort of high street presence to challenge Whittard, the biggest and most established specialist tea retailer. One such brand is Bird & Blend Tea Co., which opened its first store back in 2014 and has since expanded to 17 shops nationally. 

We spoke to Krisi Smith, co-founder of Bird & Blend, about all things branding, business and brewing.

 

SHERLOCK
How would you describe the Bird & Blend brand in 5 words? 

 

KRISI
Innovative, Eco-friendly, Magical, Founder-inspired, Independent

 

SHERLOCK
How important are physical stores to Bird & Blend? 

 

KRISI
Physical retail spaces are incredibly important to Bird & Blend. Our stores act as local community hubs, both for staff and existing customers as well as for attracting new people. Physical retail brings a huge amount of value to the company in the long run and we also find that our local stores are effective at bringing in local businesses and generating interest within the community.

 

SHERLOCK
How would you describe the design aesthetic of your stores?

 

KRISI
I think our stores are bright, colourful, and give off a welcoming vibe. People are curious and drawn in by the smell and the samples. We look independent too – not as polished as some stores, but we’re very characterful, and the high quality is instantly recognisable.

 

SHERLOCK
How would you describe the design aesthetic of your packaging?

 

KRISI
I think our eco-credentials are so much a part of our packaging and quality. We’re playful and fun, which I think comes across in the messaging on our packaging.

 

SHERLOCK
Did you ever create a blueprint for your store design or did your store design style develop organically?

 

KRISI
A bit of both really, but mostly organically in the beginning. We stumbled upon the location of our very first store in Brighton by chance, and because we were bootstrapped, we used materials we could afford at that time.   

 

SHERLOCK
Everyone talks about ‘brand experience’ these days. What’s your approach to brand experience?

 

KRISI
We’re a customer-obsessed company, so our approach is customer-focused, which is how we’ve been since the start.

 

SHERLOCK
Are there any other retailers with a bricks and mortar presence whose approach to retailing you admire?

 

KRISI
I love what retailers are doing with experiential shop fits and spaces. Lush and Samsung KX are great examples, plus the Ribble flagship is next-level when it comes to interactive spaces.

 

SHERLOCK
What are the top 3 things that Bird & Blend does really well as a retailer which you think are key to your success?

 

KRISI
Innovative tea products
Surprise and delight (powered by our people)
Customer experience (in store and online customer service)

 

SHERLOCK
How important are your store staff to your business model?

 

KRISI
Massively important. Right from the start, we have always been a people-first company, which includes ensuring a great experience on both sides of the counter.

Share Insight

Krisi Smith, co-owner of Bluebird Tea Co. in Brighton.
Bird and Blend tea products at home
Sticky Chai selection from Bird and Blend
  • Euan Sey, Founder and Commercial Director, Curry Leaf Cafe

    “They’re an easy bunch to work with, have a great knowledge of the sector and give 110%.”

  • Ruth Timmins-Williams, Brand Experience Manager, Tesco

    “Working with Sherlock is always a pleasure, the ideas keep coming and the energy remains unphased...”

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    “They were flexible, great to work with, and the result more than met our expectations.”

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    “The team’s extensive knowledge of the food & drink sector really shone through and they went above and beyond...”

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    “Sherlock rose to the challenge and provided us with several initial concepts that were all so impressive that we struggled settling on just one.”

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