Ann Foley

CEO 10th Avenue Tea


What inspired you to start your business?

My cofounder and I are both busy moms. Between the two of us we have 7 kids. We are both tea lovers, but found that waiting for tea to steep and carrying around a drippy teabag wasn’t realistic for our busy lifestyles. It seemed our only option was ready-to-drink beverages that end up in a landfill. Instead, we wanted something more innovative. So we set out to create a convenient, sustainable beverage for health-minded consumers.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?

The food and beverage industry is very welcoming, but at the end of the day there are still far more men in the room than women. No matter how confident you are in your product, it can be hard to overcome that sense of being an outsider in any industry. To overcome this, I sought a relationship with WBENC and make an effort to network with other women entrepreneurs.

What three traits define you?

Creative, focused and patient.

What women inspire you?

The women that inspire me most are the ones that give back to other entrepreneurs without looking for anything in return. I’ve received so much guidance from mentors along the way and I will forever be grateful for it.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

It’s hard to quantify the value of a relationship like the one we’ve fostered with WBENC. Simply displaying the “Women Owned” logo alone has opened so many doors for us, ones that would otherwise be nearly impossible to open. It goes way beyond that though. The expertise and resources available through WBENC have been invaluable to our company. A 45-minute phone call, a face-to-face meeting, or a WBENC event can make all the difference in the life of a small company.

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

I love the direction of functional beverages. There are so many delicious and healthy alternatives to soda these days; there’s really no excuse for drinking empty calories anymore. Innovation is important to me, so the one we are most excited about is Hemp CBD. There are so many people who report profound benefits from CBD, and we are proud to offer that to our consumers. We don’t want to just be the beverage people reach for when they are thirsty; we want to be the one they reach for to make life better.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

I work with a small, tight-knit team of women whom I trust. When we are working as a unit on a project, I feel confident in our ability to be successful. But when I have to “outsource” a job to others—even people who come highly recommended—I lose sleep until that job is done to our standards.

What do you love about being a business owner?

Sustainability and innovation have always been important to me. This is the second green business I’ve started, but the first one was in an industry not interested in either sustainability or innovation. I love to meet people and work with people who value those things as well.

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

I think the hardest part is building a good team. One great hire can transform your business and one bad hire can stop progress.

How do you define success?

To me, success is a journey.  I’m always trying to learn, create and execute.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

My Dad told me that if you are not excited on Sunday night for your job on Monday morning, then it’s time to re-evaluate.

What’s your favorite career moment?

There have been many special moments in the life of 10th Avenue Tea, but my favorite happened in 2018. I received Most Purposeful Startup from The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul University, my alma mater. It felt great to be validated for focusing on sustainability and innovation, especially when I felt like no one cared about those things in my last business venture. That it was a Chicago-based competition sponsored by my alma mater made it all the more meaningful for me.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Between running my business and caring for my four kids, I am going from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed. If I didn’t have to sleep I’d spend the time reading, hanging out with my kids and working out.

What’s the best way to start your day?

The best way to start my day, without a doubt, is with our Green Matcha. I find it helps me get moving, and it’s super convenient. I just pour it into my reusable water bottle, shake it up and start my day.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be just like my dad! He was a business owner, and I worked at his contracting company for years. He had such a magnetic personality, and people just wanted to be in his presence. I can remember a customer once told me that my dad’s bid was the highest they’d received, but they all just wanted to work with him so we won the contract.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... don’t rest until I’ve conquered it.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself… triple check everything.

The one thing I couldn’t live without is… tea of course!

By this time next year, I will be… moving my company in an even more sustainable direction.

The best thing that happened to me last week was… I hired someone I respect.

To get my creative juices flowing, I… drink matcha.

10th Avenue Tea

10th Avenue Tea is committed to offering a convenient, sustainable option to traditional hot or iced tea preparation without sacrificing quality. Our innovative products range from our patent-pending shaker bottles to our first-to-market instant tea plus hemp CBD packets. Whether you are at the office or on the go, 10th Avenue Tea makes it easier than ever to get Zen on Demand.

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