Perhaps it was the influence of his Polish mother, whose native country is known for its tea drinking culture. Or, maybe, it was because he found coffee somewhat “boring.” But Cody Wallace, a Macomb architectural student, has been drinking tea since childhood and now he is building a subscription tea business that is besting all of his other efforts in online entrepreneurship to date.
“I didn’t have a car and was too young to work, but I had a computer,” says Wallace, who graduated from Chippewa Valley High School in 2017. “I started out on eBay in middle school, then it was drop shipping, selling pet supplies, furniture from China and women’s clothing. I even worked at home for Pizza Hut, taking orders from all over the country.”
Wallace launched A Taste of Tea in April with Noah Cannon, his partner and childhood friend. With no marketing other than on Instagram, the duo raised $1,000 with a Kickstarter campaign to introduce their startup to the digital marketplace. Wallace designed the website, tasteoftea.co, and admits that visitors were few to start. But benefitting from recent appearances at summer festivals and a write-up in The Macomb Daily, Taste of Tea is finally seeing growth in its customer base.
“We actually ran out of supplies at the Romeo (Peach) Festival,” admits Wallace. “It was a mess, but a good mess.”
Taste of Tea blends are made from plants farmed at offsite plantations and packaged by Wallace. He spends a few hours each evening filling orders and appreciates the freedom self-employment has given him to attend classes at Macomb. He intends to transfer to Lawrence Technological University and earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture.
“I took a lot of computer classes in high school, but didn’t like them,” says Wallace, who chose Macomb, initially for its lower tuition rate when compared to a university. The son of two former Macomb students, he decided to stay because of the quality of its programs. “The teachers have been great and I’m glad I came. Macomb helped me figure out what I wanted to do.”
Hoping to design homes one day, Wallace believes he will still continue toward that goal even if Taste of Tea, which recently attracted a Japanese investor, takes off with pop-up stores and restaurant orders.
“So far,” says Wallace, whose favorite Taste of Tea brew is Orchard Berry, “the future looks bright.”