Queer Kentucky sat down with Arielle Clark, founder and owner, Sis Got Tea, LLC to talk about her business.
Give a brief update on the black, sober, queer space business you’re starting.
I’ve had this business idea in my head for about ten years now. I always had big, grandiose ideas (I’m a Leo; it’s kind of my thing); but they usually went away within a week or two.
But for some reason, this business idea stuck around. I’m starting a tea shop/cafe that will serve as a safe, sober space for black, LGBTQ+ folks. It’s called Sis Got Tea.
Sis Got Tea will serve a variety of teas with some coffee as well. Similar to a coffee shop, you’ll be able to order your drink, sit, and enjoy it while you work, study, or socialize. We will also serve vegan, nut-free, gluten-free baked goods (savory and sweet).
The space will also serve as an event venue after hours, providing events and workshops for the community. The space will also be rentable for outside parties to host events.
Tell us a bit about the Kickstarter! What inspired you to do this, and how is it going so far?
To be honest, the need for funds is what inspired me. While there are business loans available, I want to keep borrowing to a minimum. I debated using GoFundMe, but I felt that the GoFundMe market was a bit oversaturated.
I also like Kickstarter’s set-up: you can write a story, set a goal and a deadline, and even have tiered rewards. So far, it’s going much better than I expected! I launched it on September 14th at 7:39 PM EST with a goal of $6000 in 60 days.
As of September 15th at 8:06 PM EST, we’ve raised $846! I’m so shocked. It’s only been a little over 24 hours. I’m hopeful we’ll reach our goal and thensome.What has the community reaction been so far?
Community reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve kept the business plan under wraps for a while; I actually registered the business in late August.
When I officially announced the business and launched the Kickstarter, I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I received and am still receiving. I’ve been told multiple times that this space is much needed in our community and that people are extremely excited. It fills my heart with joy, hope, and motivation.
Who/what is inspiring you to keep on going
To be honest, I’m inspired by how much support I have. I’m also inspired by how much people have donated to the Kickstarter. I’m also inspired by my own experiences within the LGBTQ+ community here in Louisville.
Growing up here, I would have loved to have a black, LGBTQ+ space not centered on alcohol. So with community support, a successful Kickstarter, and my own personal experiences, I’ve managed to keep going.
What type of support do you need from the LGBTQ+ community?
Two things: funds and exposure. Opening a cafe is an expensive task; and the more funds I receive, the better off Sis Got Tea will be.
I also need people to spread the word! As I develop the teas and foods that will be served at Sis Got Tea, I’ll start doing pop-ups around town at different events. So spread the word! I’d love to try and be at your event.
Can you give us any sort of timeline?
I’m hoping to be open by the end of the year! But it depends on how funding, finding a space, etc., go. It’s hard to pin down an exact opening date…there’s a lot in the air right now. But I’ll definitely keep everyone updated.
How are you feeling about the business? (Emotionally)
I’m feeling a lot about it. The vast majority of what I’m feeling is joy, happiness, and adrenaline. But I do have moments of doubt and anxiety — “Am I doing the right thing?” “Am I in way over my head?” “How can I do this when I have no idea what I’m doing?” These moments tend to come when I make to-do lists and realize how much more there needs to be done — funding, finding a space, obtaining licenses, buying equipment…the lists go on and on.
But I’ve already started and made a lot of promises, and I’m determined to bring Sis Got Tea to life.
Where do you see it in 5 years?
I see it being a lively, thriving business with lots of loyal customers. I’m considering opening a second location if things go really well! But in general, I see Sis Got Tea being a staple in the Louisville LGBTQ+ community.
What would you say to those queer folx who are scared to start a business?
1.) Take your time. There’s no rush in starting your own business.
2.) There’s no “right way” to do it. None of us know exactly what we’re doing. So while it looks like one person is rocking it, they’re probably panicking and stumbling through it. Take me, for example.
3.) Self care is important. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to work on your business nonstop every day. Take care of yourself first. If you’re not 100%, your business won’t be either.