Tea and Compassion, Owner of Sugarbird Sweets and Teas Kei Okumura has been able to concentrate on her love of pastries and people by letting LegalZoom handle the more routine aspects of running a business.
The magic of a delectable delicacy and a cup of tea has allowed Kei Okumura to create a business supporting family and seven staff. Throughout the company’s ten years in operation, Sugarbird Sweets and Teas has seen numerous changes, but Kei’s enthusiasm for fostering human connections has remained constant.
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Tea and Compassion, Goals that are Sweet.
After 9/11, Kei left her job as a music video producer to pursue her hobby of baking, where she discovered meaning. “Why am I filming a Beyoncé video when I don’t feel like it has any purpose? [I asked myself]. I adore baking. I adore bakeries.
After finishing culinary school, Kei returned to the United States and began selling unique herbal tea blends at a nearby farmers’ market. However, he soon discovered that there wasn’t a big enough market for tea alone. “What goes with tea, I asked. And it just felt right. Scones and tea.”
Tea and Compassion, Beyond a Tea Party.
For Kei, afternoon tea is a cherished ritual. “In Asia, where I was raised, afternoon tea was a tradition. That was a wonderful period in my life, and I believe that it has remained with me. People often congregate around tea. A slang expression for “we’ll make it something tempting” is “add sweets,” “she claims.
Enticing is the right word to describe the Sugarbird scone experience, offered on their website a la carte and in themed “afternoon tea” gift boxes. The scones are as stunning as their exotic flavor names suggest: multicolored drops with tiny decorations and shiny glazes. The silky, pillowy texture and delicate but rich flavor of the first bite lift the entire experience to a new level that begs to be shared. Or, to use Kei’s words, an afternoon tea scone “a motivator to engage in further discourse. It’s now time. You’re spending some time for yourself and making an effort to truly connect with others.”
Pastries and All Sorts of People.
Tea and Compassion, Kei is more interested in making connections than just scones. She has a stake in the group that assists her in creating them. “I am a woman of color who owns a wonderful team that is racially, LGBTQ, and neurodiverse. That has been wonderful to have. I believe there needs to be less stigma attached to recruiting individuals with neurodiversity.”
She values the contributions her team makes to her company and sees them as a major source of inspiration. She claims to have a “wonderful” team of bakers who “are sticking with me throughout this whole journey, and I really, truly want to make this happen for them. For us as well, but primarily because to them.
Tea and Compassion, Kei elaborates on the benefits of a varied workplace by stating, “My team allows me to have a wide range of comfort in discussing things like neurodiversity and LGBTQ [problems]”. We simply leave it open. As a result, the team feels comfortable working here and navigating whatever difficulties they may encounter. We want kids to thrive in their surroundings.
Tea and Compassion, Hidden Recipe
Producing exquisite baked items and overseeing a crew are more than a full-time job, so Kei regularly comes to LegalZoom for help with the legal obligations of running a business.
“It was eye-opening for me to have access to money, legal counsel, and accounting, and all that things started to fall into place after me as we started participating in business accelerators. And because there was so much to learn, I didn’t know how to get in touch with attorneys to get my corporation and business documentation in order. I believe that’s how I discovered LegalZoom, and I was astounded to learn that legal had so much information. This made things simple.”
Tea and Compassion, Kei has depended on LegalZoom throughout the years to assist her with a variety of business-related duties. “I can just contact LegalZoom and say, “Hey, I need to have our logo trademarked,” which is a simple process for me. What are our options? And they say, “OK!””
Tea and Compassion, After switching to a direct-to-consumer sales strategy in the epidemic from a wholesale company model. Kei has her sights set on attracting more clients to her tea and baked goods businesses. She just unveiled a new website. Participated in a cooking reality show on Hulu, and keeps enhancing her scone shipping and delivery choices.
She hopes to eventually “streamline our growth and our scalability to become this multimillion-dollar company. In the next five years” and to eventually open a line of scone kiosks in malls around the nation. She’ll probably do it, as anyone who has tried a Sugarbird scone can attest.