From IS to US…The Story of How I Started Selling Icelandic Tea

by May 23, 2020Blog0 comments

Blue Lagoon | Teko Tea, Traditional Icelandic Tea Blends

Blue Lagoon October 2018

It was October 2018

My two travel companions and I were flying from Copenhagen, Denmark to Reykjavik, Iceland for a short stop before flying home to Denver, Colorado USA. We were grateful for the opportunity to explore Reykjavik, experience the Blue Lagoon and further our research of historic Viking culture in Iceland.

The three of us enjoyed the food in Reykjavik as well as the Whales of Iceland Exhibit and SAGA museum. We walked around the city admiring the colorful buildings against the gray sky and the cold, glistening water of the North Atlantic. Damp from the mist in the air and chilled to our bones, we looked forward to our trip the the Blue Lagoon!

I drove the 3 of us to the Blue Lagoon in a four-door Mazda 3 rental car, in what felt like the middle of nowhere. We found our way to the parking lot full of tour buses. We walked along the sidewalk to the check-in line winding around like airport security. With our wrist bands, robes and flip-flops in hand, we were guided to the changing rooms.

We emerged from the rooms into a steaming, rocky landscape, whispering voices spoke so many languages. We dipped our toes in the the warm water and, before long, we were fully submerged. We applied mud masks to our faces and loved the warm, mineral-rich water.

After our time in the water, we enjoyed dinner at the adjacent Lava Restaurant. After our bellies were full and our skin less shriveled, we started our journey back to the car and back to our hotel in Reykjavik. It was late and the sky pitch black. The further we drove from the Blue Lagoon, the harder it was to see; there were no lamp posts and no city lights. We were driving on a tight, single-lane road with bright orange construction cones making the road even more narrow than it already was. The kids and I were listening to Stories Podcast when CLUNK! I hit something.

The CLUNK had clearly done damage as the car did not sound quite right nor ride as smooth. I had to pull off the road, between the construction cones, and into the rocky landscape. I got out and, with my iPhone’s flashlight, inspected the outside of the car. Sure enough, the front passenger-side tire was as flat as a pancake. I must have hit a pothole.

I got back in the car to report my findings to my travel companions. They were relieved it wasn’t anything major but concerned with my ability to fix the problem. I tried my best to reassure them. Grateful that, for the first time ever, I had purchased the wi-fi booster for an extra $10/day from the rental car company, I googled how to change a tire on a Mazda 3.

The last tire I changed was on a 1984 Volvo station wagon in college. Even though I was a little nervous myself, I wanted to show my kids I/we could do this. We were capable, resourceful and able to survive even if, and especially when, it was just the three of us.

Without much trouble we found the spare, the 4-way lug wrench and the steel scissor jack in the trunk. Each kid took turns as they rotated between holding my iPhone flashlight in the rain and warming up in the  dry, backseat of the car. Halfway through the job, they had had enough. They were wet, cold and worried. I told them I would finish up. So, as they waited in the backseat, I put my iPhone in my mouth, clamped down on it with my lips and started cranking on the jack and then the wrench. Rain was dripping off my hood onto my soaking wet, skinny jeans. They were suctioned to my legs. My new Nike sneakers were wet and muddy. I was close to finishing the job and was so proud!

From out of now where, “EXCUSE ME, CAN I HELP YOU?”

“OH SHIT!” I yelled and fell back on my butt.

I looked at where the voice came from and I saw an Icelandic police officer with a flashlight and headlights shining in my face. He scared the living daylight out of me! We spoke briefly and he generously offered to finish the job. Even though my ego was slightly bruised I gratefully passed the wrench to him. Within minutes, he made sure the spare was secure, got the car back on the ground and put the flat tire and tools in the trunk. I thanked him and, with his Icelandic accent, he sent us on our way and told me to drive carefully.

The kids and I were exhausted as we drove to our hotel. When we finally got to our room, we took hot showers, put our pjs on and crawled into bed. Barely saying goodnight, we were asleep within seconds. The next day we were headed home.

In the morning, we returned the rental car and flat tire to the Keflavik Airport. We checked in and walked towards our terminal. On the way, the three of us stopped to browse in the Duty Free shop. It was there that I spotted Teko Tea.

Teko’s perky and beautifully branded green and pink boxes were on an end-cap. I picked up the box with green branding (BIRKI, green tea) and then the box with pink branding (BLODBERG, green tea). I kept thinking of how many people would love this as a gift. I filled my carry-on with as many boxes as I could fit. I could not wait to share a piece of Iceland with family and friends.

The gifts were a hit and I enjoyed my personal stash. Before long, I wanted to order more for myself so I contacted the founder and owner of Teko Icelandic Tea, Sigrún Jenný Barðadóttir. She shipped more tea to me.

It was around that same time, two friends and I started a podcast. We were looking for sponsors and I thought, why not ask Sigrún? Turns out, she was delighted to have Teko sponsor and support our podcast.

During our email exchange about sponsorship, I asked about distribution. With my background in sales, I knew I could sell Teko Tea in the US. After we ironed out a few details, I was off and running.

I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Sigrún and to learn from her as a mother and as an experienced business-woman. Today, it is more important than ever to show my kids that we are capable, resourceful and able to thrive even if, and especially when, it is just the three of us!