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Posted: June 21, 2012

Colorado Companies to Watch alum: Bhakti Chai

Not just a tea but a lifestyle

Mike Cote

Brook Eddy was inspired to create Bhakti Chai in 2006 after visiting India, where she fell in love with a spicy tea she could not find in the United States. She began brewing her own on her stove in Nederland and soon had friends and local cafes hooked. The Boulder-based company makes its organic ginger-based tea in a small plant in Longmont.

"Here we are five years later, and we’ve got our brewery, and our corporate office on Pearl Street in Boulder," says Allison Salvati, who handles marketing, promotion and events for the company. "We’re in 16 different states and shipping nationally."

Last summer, Bhakti Chai launched an iced drink made with 80 percent of its concentrate and 20 percent organic soy from White Wave, another company that got its start in Boulder. Overall, the company is on track to grow 85 percent this year and expects to increase hiring by 35 percent, Salvati said.

The Colorado Companies to Watch designation has helped Bhakti Chai expand its reach both locally and beyond, she said.

"It’s been incredible exposure for us, growing as a brand in Colorado. And obviously as we look to become a national brand, it’s been a great feather in our cap," she said.

Bhakti Chai has thrived during the economic downturn by making sure it focuses on its mission. Eddy and Salvati spend much of their time publicizing the brand at local and national events, such as a recent yoga festival in Santa Monica, Calif., and a dog walk fundraiser in Boulder.

"I think the biggest thing that Brook has focused on is not raising prices, and continuing to target our core demographic and really getting to know them and connect with them, and also building relationships with retailers and distributors," Salvati said. "We have a big passion for giving back, and so we’re making sure we’re still connecting with nonprofit grantees."

Bhakti Chai focuses on staying prepared for what comes next, a constant for second-stage companies.

For Salvati that means "making sure you’re really staying connected with your customers and building infrastructure that can sustain itself because once you have the pull and people are into the brand it can really take you to the next level."

Mike Cote is the former editor of ColoradoBiz. E-mail him at mcote@cobizmag.com.

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