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The Growing Trend Of Adding Legal CBD/Hemp To Health And Beauty Products
My guest is Miriam Novalle. She is the CEO and Founder of the world-renowned T Salon in New York City. She’s also the Founder of High Tea Today. She was dubbed the Tea Guru by The New York Times and she was also featured on the reality show, The Mentor. Miriam, welcome to the program.
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here with you.
Give me the bottom line of what is High Tea? How did you come up with the idea?
Miriam Novalle’s been in the tea business since 1992. Being in the tea business, being serial entrepreneurs, we have to put that into the focus of it. My sister, Hannah, got ovarian cancer. She was in a point that she needed support and lived in my home at the moment. I would come in and I say, “What are you doing?” She goes, “I’m taking CBD.” I go, “What is CBD?” I hear that all the time now that I’m a spokesperson on it. She says, “It takes away the angst. It takes away my anxiety, takes away my depression. It relieves my body into a state of relaxation before my chemo and after my chemo.” I said, “I do a whole line of wellness teas for people with sleeping issues, purification, detox, immunity before and after chemo treatment. Let me find out about the CBD.” I did my research and I realized that Colorado is the legal state of cannabis and hemp.
I found out a lot in my research because I did my amazing due diligence after I went to Colorado, that hemp is legal in every state of the union. Under 3% of THC, once you go above 3% of THC, you’re now in the cannabis world or even the hemp world. I don’t play in the world of cannabis. Yes, they look alike, they smell alike, but it has no psychoactive ingredients. You do not get high, you get chilled. There is CBD in hemp and there is THC. I’m a vertical business. I got involved in the growing period of it and it has hybrid it out. In all this period of time, it’s now hybrid it out. There’s no THC at all in any of these plants. They are chemically lab tested. They are organic and certified. They’re spectrum one. There’s so little THC in it, it’s not there.
Your company, High Tea Today, do all of your products have CBD in them from that company? All your teas?
High Tea Today is completely about hemp/CBD. I have a tea company and I have 650 blends. That tea company is called T Salon, TSalon.com. You go on the website and it sells all my teas in two-ounce, four-ounce, eight-ounce, iced teas, 100-count for restaurants, hotels, spas, yoga centers. On the site HighTea.Today, we sell teas and cold beverages that are completely made and blended with hemp/CBD.
Do you have different teams for different conditions or experiences?
I’m not sure if I call it an experience as more of I call it a wellness. You’re looking to make a shift of what’s going on in your body, your mind, your cleanse, your juice cleanse, your yoga. You’re doing before and after yoga. You’re doing chemo. You’ve got leukemia, you’ve got sleeping issues. Good Night Irene has been a great, amazing help for so many.
Good Night Irene helps people sleep?
Absolutely. One of my dearest friends is one of the vice presidents of Whole Foods. For years, I’ve been begging her to put my teas on their shelf. I went to Miami and I was at her house and I gave her a Good Night Irene. I’ve been telling this woman, this is good for you. All of a sudden, I get a text and she goes, “What is it that you gave me?” I said, “It’s one of my High Teas with hemp/CBD and it’s Good Night Irene.” She goes, “I haven’t slept in five years. This is the first time that I have slept.” I say, “Mazel tov. I’ve been telling you this for years.” She goes, “We’ve got to put it on the shelves.”
There is a huge explosion of CBD products, everything. It’s interesting because it’s a competitive market. Are there other teas that you know of that are starting to do that? Were you the first one to do it? Are there other people doing it?
I’ve been doing it for the last year and a half. We’ve got Cheech & Chong and we do their private license for CBD. They took three of my blends and they put it into a box. They took my tea bags and they put their own name on it. I do private labeling. In the last few months, I get emails. Everybody wants to come play an $11-billion-industry right now.
You’ve been a successful entrepreneur for a long time. I wouldn’t think tea would be the easiest business to be in, whether it’s the High Tea you’re doing or TSalon.com. A lot of our audience is entrepreneurs and business people. Can you talk a little bit about how you even got into that business and how you made it successful? What do you think some of the lessons for entrepreneurs are that they can learn from the journey that you’ve been through?
I started the business in 1992 because my sister married a Liverpudlian in Liverpool, England. In 1990, I was in Italy and I went to visit her family that she was about to marry and we had afternoon tea. I know this is going to sound a little weird, but Jews don’t sit for afternoon tea. I’m in this house with this woman with beautiful family and beautiful home. The woman comes out with one of her ladies who takes care of the home with this black, beautiful, crisp black skirt and this crisp white apron and they’re serving scones, Devon cream jam, tea sandwiches, and afternoon tea. I sat with them and I said, “I just sold a perfume.” I used to be Herb Alpert’s partner at A&M. He and I launched a fragrance called Listen. I was lucky, privileged, and honored to have made that fragrance with him. I was lucky we sold it and I moved to Italy.
At this point, my sister announced she was getting married and I go there for afternoon tea. I go to my sister’s about to be mother-in-law, Esther, and I said, “Everything is lovely. Thank you so much. I don’t get it. How come the tea tastes terrible?” She said, “I heard you’re such an entrepreneur. I bet you couldn’t make a good cup of tea,” so I did. I went and traveled with my daughter for about four months. The entire world, at that point, when you go to visit anybody, they sit and serve you a cup of tea. China, Japan, Turkey, Russia, anywhere you go except Americans. The only thing you did in the 1990s if you were sick, your mother would say, “Would you like a cup of tea?” I said, “I’m going to bring tea back to United States.”
I was going to build this cutest, littlest tea room with 50 teas. People would walk in and smell them, buy them and don’t ask me where it went. It went from that to a 5,000 square foot tea room below the Guggenheim Museum in SoHo. Being a serial entrepreneur, God forbid you should think little. A 5,000-square foot, 267 seats, 350 teas. Foods wrapped around teas mixology with teas in their drinks and people were lining up. They’ve never seen anything like it. I was like a three-ring circus. There I was, I was ignited by Florence Fabricant as the Guru of Tea. Nobody at that point ever in history has built a 5,000-square foot tea room. Instant recognition, instant global word went out and I became this amazing creature of life, of learning what the world wanted in a great cup of tea. I sold them, I blended them, and I created them. It was so much fun that I continued to open up other locations around New York. I built one Lebanese 20th, Chelsea Market, Melrose, and La Brea. I kept popping them up and I loved it.
One day, somebody came to me from Bloomberg News. They said they were doing a reality television show, “Would you like to be on it?” I said, “Reality television show? No.” It’s called The Mentor and the guy from 1-800-Flowers who’s going to mentor me and he did. In the middle of the show, he talked me into closing all my stores. This is great for entrepreneurs. Listen to your intuitive. Always listen to your gut. Always hear the heartbeat in your stomach. It will always guide you the right way. If you’re really listening, it will always tell you which way to go. I believed that and I got involved in this reality of watching myself on television. Millions of Americans watching me say, “I’ll close them,” which I did and I went wholesale. Do I regret it? 50% regrets it because I didn’t listen to my gut. It was the biggest lesson of my life.
I went wholesale, so I went on websites, sold to hotels and it was hard. I had to start all over. It was a big lesson. I learned a lot. You have to be fearless. You have to stick to your guns and understand. If you have a great idea, stay with it, believe in it, trust it, sleep with it, talk about it. Stay in a line of passion and belief. Now I’ve been doing wholesale for the last five years and it’s fabulous but it’s like having a baby at 50.
It’s a different game. Has it been successful?
Very much so.
Still a little sorry you closed the salon.
As you can tell, I’m a shoes-er. I love the shoes. I love when they walked in. “Hi, how are you?” To this day I still get people that go, “I miss your tea salon. I used to come down. I wrote books there. I transgendered there.” I’ve had everybody do everything in my tea salons. It was a great place for fun, meeting people, sitting with them, and having tea. It was beautiful. Tea is a liquid communication. Coffee is for the masses and tea is for the masters. You would feel that energy in the room when they sat down and had a great cup of tea. They never experienced anything like it. To see their faces, it was like, “At last, somebody knew how to make a proper cup of tea,” and that’s what I gave them.
We talk about this all the time when I talk about branding on this show. You took something that was seemingly ordinary thing, which is tea. By bringing that passion to do it the best, to have it be the most excellent, to bring back those rituals, you turned it into a successful business. That’s one of the secrets with entrepreneurs is it’s not much about having something super out of the box and exciting. It’s about taking something and doing it with excellence.
Doing it with passion, doing it with a belief system, doing it like you know it, you feel it, you eat it, you sleep it, you live it, you walk the talk. You just don’t go home afterwards, sit back, and have a decaf cappuccino. Either you’re in it and you’re in a deep and you believe in it, you trust it, and you just go for it. You have to go for it. That’s the bottom line.
Where are you with the new business? How is the new business doing and what state are you in with the new business? What are some of the entrepreneurial challenges you’re facing?
First of all, everybody in the hemp/CBD, and cannabis business is millennials. They’re all fabulous, brilliant, and young. There are a few elders. I spoke in Las Vegas about being an entrepreneur in the CBD business, “What is the mixology? What are you doing with it? What are the drinks that you’re making with it? What are the products you’re making with it?” Here’s a guy on my left at 34 years old, already made his first $10 million. Here’s a guy on my right already did his first $20 million. My friend from Whole Foods said, “I need you to get a compliance lawyer.” I didn’t even know what that was. A compliance lawyer is someone that makes sure that your labels comply with the law. He’s a lawyer from Whole Foods. He’s one of the consultants to Whole Foods to tell you what you comply to, what you can’t, what you can put on a label, what you can, the whole nine yards. Here I am with a new product.
Whole Foods is owned by Amazon. Amazon does not put CBD on their site. I had to make sure all the dots were dotted, the Ts were teed and lined, and wording was right. He said to me, “All those millennials that are doing hemp/CBD, none of them comply with the laws. Not one label.” I said, “How are they getting away with it?” They said, “They don’t care because at the end of the day, they made their $10 million. The government comes, closes them down, they’re happy at 32. They’ve done it.” You, however, have to comply. I am a true believer in following the rules because I’m not here for the weekend. I’m not here that hemp/CBD and High Teas here for a year.
You talked about the Good Night Irene. As a branding strategist, I have to say thumbs up, fabulous name. What are some of the other names of some of the other teas in the High Tea line besides Good Night Irene?
I have Queen Of Earl.
What is that one for?
Some folks like a fabulous, black tea and they would like a little twist to it. I have Queen Of Earl, which is bergamot, molasses and 15 milligrams of organic CBD. I have Green Tea With Coconut And Pineapple. I didn’t realize it would be such a hit. It got so popular that I bottled it. They wanted it in bottles in the cold fridge. I had Purification after a juice cleanse or after you’ve eaten too much. You’d come home at night, instead of taking whatever people used to take for eating too much, an upset stomach, you sit back and have a cup of Purification. You have a cup of Detox. I have Immunity. I have Balance which is a great tea with peppermint, chamomiles, cinnamon, roses and it feels like your whole day has been equalized. You come home from work, you take off your shoes, in the ‘50s you made a martini, in the ‘80s you rolled a joint, and in 2018 you came back and had a cup of CBD High Tea.
CBD and hemp are legal in all the states in the US. The teas are legal in all the states, correct?
That is correct.
It’s interesting because it’s a wellness line. It’s a wellness product. Are you selling it online? Are you retailing at? Where are you selling it currently?
I’m selling it online, in spas, in yoga centers, to therapists. I sell it to people that have clinics, cancer clinics. I sell it to water centers that have machines that you filtrate your water. You walk in and you want your water great, but you also would like a fabulous drink with your fabulous water. I sell it to hotels. You go into some of the hotels, you have traveled. There is CBD High Tea in your mini fridge.
We’re heading to a point where we’re going to start to see that in in an unimaginable variety of products, health and wellness products.
I left a hemp show in Las Vegas and here in Milan, they had hemp/CBD in dog food, shampoos, bath salts, gummy bears, puddings, cupcakes, breads, ice creams, name it. They had it in everything. I was walking around the show. I was speechless. I couldn’t believe it was in everything.
What were some of the highlights of the hemp show in Las Vegas you went to?
It was a mixology show and it was all about bartenders and what do they want to serve and how would they want to make. What’s 2018 got to do with CBD? First of all, I brought in two mixologists and she made these extracts and combined extracts and CBD. The show was all about what’s new at the bars. What’s new at mixing? They wanted new ideas and it was phenomenal. They were having a blast. I would talk about combining my green tea with coconut, vodka and CBD. They were all over the place doing in tequila, vodka and sake. There’s a whole line of sake. They’re sitting and having it bottled with CBD and different of my teas and they let it sit for 24 hours, cold brew it and they pour it over ice.
Do you think we’re going to see in the next year or two that there are going to be cocktails appearing with CBD in them?
They’re appearing already. We are in New York. We’re one year behind. You go into Colorado into Denver and Aspen. You name a city in Colorado, you go to a bar, they’re cooking with it. They’re bartending with it. They’re making puddings with it. They’re making desserts with it. They’re making ice creams. The end of the meal, you don’t know if you’re coming or going. When I went first time to Colorado to Denver, I walked in and they’re smoking. It’s hysterical. I go in and I go to this restaurant and she goes, “Would you like a menu?” I go, “Yes.” She goes, “Would you like a seat?” I go, “It’s a concept, yes.” She sits me down and she goes, “Would you like a cocktail with cannabis or CBD?” This was two years ago.
Because it’s legal in Colorado?
It’s legal in Colorado. The dogs are drinking it in their water. In New York, when I showed it two years ago and I told everybody what I was doing, they go, “CB who? CB what?” The last show I did at the Coffee And Tea Show, there were 50 people lined up at the Brooklyn Expo waiting to have and purchase High Tea. When I did it two years before that, they didn’t even know what I was talking about. There were 50 people lining up to buy and drink samples of my CBD, sold out in three hours.
It shows that you saw something that was coming in a crest and you got in on it. You got in on it before it started to hit and that’s one of the things that entrepreneurs are always looking to do. Do you think that’s a function of that you’re just smart? Is that a function of that you pay attention, that you know your field? What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs about being able to get in on the game on something before it hit its crest?
First of all, you have to do your due diligence. You have to have good Angel investors that believe in you. You have to have a team of friends that are smart, that will take your idea. They will listen to it and they need to give you honest feedback. You can’t be in your own bubble. If you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t live in your own bubble. You have to make sure that your team is your friends that are smart, that are traveled, that are there for you, that will listen to your ideas and then put it in front of a group that you don’t know from them. You have to do not only your friends and family tasting. They’re right on the money, they’ll tell you if they don’t like it. You’ve got to do it in front of a group that’s blind tasting. You’ve got to make sure that they know nothing of it and then hear the truth. When the truth hits, you be prepared and open to change. If you’re not open to change it, then you’re stuck in your own belief, your own product. You’ll be sitting on the shelf with thousands of your own product.
Whether it’s a product, a food product, a beverage product, a technological product or a service, part of what you’re saying is you have to get outside of your own ideas about how it’s working to hear what other people have to say and then adjust based on that feedback. Did you find that as you were testing teas, both in the original company and in the High Tea line, did you find that you’ve got a lot of feedback from people that helped you to shape the line?
My art went through many transitions. My warehouse is eight miles out of Woodstock, New York. Here I am thinking I’m in the ‘60s, I was going to this flowerily, psychedelic label, which would work great in Colorado because that’s what they all look like. I did this Woodstockian label with flowers, botanicals and things. It was like something you would’ve seen in the ‘60s. In the middle of the night, true entrepreneurial spirit, you wake up in a sweat. It’s 4:00 AM, you’re in a sweat. You know that something’s not right. What are you going to do? How am I going to change this?
My first graphic artist was Michael, who I brought in when he was 22 years old. This guy who started Honest Tea grabbed him up and brought him to Washington DC, worked for him and one day said, “Sold it to Coca-Cola.” I get a phone call from Michael that he’s back in New York and I texted Michael. Worse, that’s what they do. They’re crazy. They do it when they can. There is no time. There is no clock. There is no rhythm, you just go for it. At 4:00 AM, I texted Michael, “Michael, help. I need a fabulous artwork. I need amazing label. You listen, we all know you can turn a corner and see Starbucks. I can see the edge of a logo and you know it’s right.” He texted me back at 4:30 AM. He goes, “Funny enough, I was up. What do you need?” There we were texting each other at 4:00 AM, going back and forth. He transformed my entire vision and created a label. That’s why I got into Fairways. That’s why I’m approached by all these people that come at me with their hotels and restaurants and yoga centers because the artwork is beautiful.
I would never ask a lady her age, you’re not a millennial. You’re older than 50, can we say that?
I have a 44-year-old daughter.
One of the things you’re doing as an entrepreneur is you’re doing something that works. It’s valuable for the people that listen to this podcast to hear about you recognize the value of having people of all different ages participate with you in building the business.
I know that the millennials around me are brilliant. They are thinking ahead. They have amazing ideas. I’m not saying all of them, but I can’t say all of them because it doesn’t work that way. That’s like saying everybody my age is brilliant. They’re not. I will say that you have to be open and listen. I’m doing second round funding. I have an amazing young man who is an intuitive. He finished a program with Deepak Chopra. He’s this major, wonderful, intuitive that he does readings and he comes from his guts. He sees the vision. He’s working with my deck, as we all know, it’s not called a business plan anymore. It’s called the deck. I learned that immediately. I would say, “You can do busy.” “No, I’m going to do you a deck.” I says, “I don’t want a deck of cards.” He said, “No, a PowerPoint deck.” “A PowerPoint deck?” That’s what’s going to get to your second-round funding.
The other thing I hear through this is that you’ve had an incredible willingness to learn what’s going on that’s new and shift with the times.
You have to be able to shift your haircut, your hair color, your shoes, and your address. If it’s going to help you, then move with it. Open yourself up to it. Don’t be in this closed closet that this is the way it’s going to work. It’s not going to work that way. One of the reasons that I’m here in Italy is because my girlfriend, Maxi Cohen, is doing an art opening in the middle of this town in this house. The things that she had to go through to create an art opening in the middle of Italy, she had to shift everything around her. She had to bring her assistant all the way from New York to do the prints to make it happen. She knew she couldn’t do it in New York and she left it on plane and pay thousands of dollars. They had to come here and print here in Italy. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to create it. You keep it in your box and say, “No, this the way I do it. This is the way it’s got to happen.” No, that’s not the way. You want success? Listen, pay attention. Listen to your gut. Listen to the people around you and trust that they might be great voices for you to do that change.
Miriam, thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you. I love it. I love sharing it. I love being in the space of it. For serial entrepreneurs, I know they understand it because they sleep with it, they eat with it and they love it. I love being in the space of it so thank you for the opportunity.
You’re welcome. My guest has been Miriam Novalle. She is the CEO and Founder of the world-renowned T Salon in New York City. She’s also the Founder of the new company, High Tea Today. She was dubbed a Tea Guru by The New York Times and she was featured on the reality show, The Mentor.
- T Salon
- High Tea Today
- Good Night Irene – tea flavor
- Cheech & Chong
- Queen Of Earl – tea flavor
- Green Tea With Coconut And Pineapple – tea flavor
- Purification – tea flavor
- Detox – tea flavor
- Immunity – tea flavor
- Balance – tea flavor
- Coffee And Tea Show
- Honest Tea
- Deepak Chopra
- Maxi Cohen
About Miriam Novalle
Miriam Novalle is the CEO and founder of the world-renowned T Salon in New York City and the founder of High Tea Today. Dubbed a “tea guru” by the New York Times, She was also featured on the realtiy show the Mentor.