HAPPY LUCKY’S TEAHOUSE is a little shop in downtown Fort Collins. They have the largest tea selection in Colorado, as displayed on their ever-growing “Great Wall of Tea” alongside teapots, accessories, and silk scarves.
Silk scarves? What’s that about?
It turns out that those scarves were an important part of the genesis of this business. I had a chance to sit down with one of the co-owners, George Grossman, this week. Sharing a pot of Chocolate Raspberry Rooibos, of course.
George’s wife Kari had been importing Cambodian silk products since 2003, then they started Happy Lucky’s in 2009. With a larger space, they decided to build on his passion for tea – which has since grown to be the major portion of the business.
I found the larger purpose of this effort to be more fascinating. For instance, Kari and George founded Sustainable Schools International, a non-profit focused on improving education in Cambodia. Their lives have centered around the integration of the US and Cambodia, building human relationships through books, products, education, and contributions.
You may notice that their logo includes the words “Fairly Traded.” George explained that this is much larger than just fair-trade products, where the source farmers in poor countries are sustainably and fairly rewarded for their work. It’s also about how George and Kari relate to their employees – being a fair trade of interesting work, great contributions, and fair rewards.
The benefit of this approach then becomes the way they treat customers. It’s about honesty, helpfulness, and generosity. I saw this first hand as I was deciding which teapot to purchase after we talked – it turns out that all their employees have a great understanding of all the products and what would make me happiest.
That makes for loyal customers, with deep and lasting relationships.
So what’s the next challenge that George is looking forward to? Well, he’d like to bring his products to more people in Colorado. He started designing for growth a year ago, investing in his systems and people so that it will be a graceful transition.
I find this quite unusual. Many business owners I work with only begin solving the problems after they’ve committed to opening up a second shop, not a year or more in advance.
I’m confident in their future success. Both happy and lucky, and bringing that to the community to benefit the world.