By Anthony Cugini
Each bottle of tea Mark Sotomayer and his company, Treecup Tea, sell comes with a seed to plant a tree.
College dropout Mark Sotomayer started selling tea using his grandmother’s recipe.
“On September 23, 2017, I got caught with marijuana and was suspended until the next semester,” Sotomayer said. “After being super-depressed for a week I was like, I gotta do this. I’m going to start a business. Let’s run with this to see if we can get it into a store by the time I get back to college.”
Sotomayer runs Treecup Tea on his own with the occasional help from his mother. As Sotomayer runs the company on his own, he must keep up with the day-to-day production and advertising of the company. Despite this, Sotomayer has been successful thus far.
“I brew up to 2,000 bottles a month,” Sotomayer said.
The thing that separates Treecup Tea from every other company is the fact that they not only give out a seed to each customer but they’re also partnered with a nonprofit called Haiti Friends. Haiti Friends aims to improve the environment in Haiti by planting trees and increasing the wildlife.
“Immediately I knew I wanted to do something with an environmental or social impact,” said Sotomayer. “I think that those businesses are going to be more popular if they do it right.”
Knowing that you want to help the environment through a business is one thing. Actually going through with that is another.
“At the very end of selling for the first time, a dude came up… I told him it’s my first time selling and that I wanna grow it and attach a social cause,” Sotomayer said. “‘Well I sit on the board of this nonprofit called Haiti Friends.’”
When asked about Treecup Tea, Haiti Friends Representative Bee Schindler said, “they have been an amazing support, and we are immensely honored to see their great work connecting their product to the HTRIP program.”
With this partnership, Treecup Tea has planted over 20,000 trees. The goal for Sotomayer and Treecup Tea is to fully reforest Haiti by 2030. Whether they reach that goal or not, they have already made a huge impact on the Caribbean country.
Treecup Tea customer, Carly Spahr, said, “My favorite thing about Treecup Tea is the owner’s attitude. He was a fun person to talk to. I really enjoyed how he gave out tree saplings. It gives you something to remember your purchase by.”
Starting a company on your own isn’t an easy task. This is why starting a company isn’t a common occurrence. When asked for advice, Sotomayer had this to say.
“Stop talking about it and do it. That’s my biggest advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Make a prototype and start selling ASAP. That’s how you figure it out. From there it’s tricky. Then a couple of years down the road you’re going to have a good product. Now my products look amazing and they sell easily for five bucks. But when I started out people barely wanted to give me a dollar for how crappy they were.”
Mark Sotomayer and his company Treecup Tea have been so successful that a return to college hasn’t been needed.