This month’s installation of Perfectly Strong Women – our series featuring inspiring women who work with their hands – has us ready to “let our hair down and put our pinkies up!” We recently met with Founder of Oh You TeaSE, AnnaRose Rotondi-Kauser at the Coffee and Tea Festival NYC, in Brooklyn, NY.
What is your definition of a Perfectly Strong Woman?
A woman who does what she needs to do to get stuff done.
Who is one woman who has been influential in pursuing your craft?
My mom. She’s always been my number one fan, extremely supportive and has influenced me in more ways than she probably knows – especially when it comes to embracing my creativity and having the courage to be me, even when that means going against the grain.
Tell us about your business.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Being the daughter of a restaurant/pizzeria owner and growing up in a commercial kitchen, I always knew that I wanted to open my own business – specifically in the food and beverage realm. There’s something so satisfying about nurturing others with a treat they can enjoy. As a tea lover myself, it was only natural for me to be drawn to the idea of creating my own tea blends. From the start (and still today), I create the blends by hand – chopping up cinnamon bark and cracking open cardamom seeds – for myself, my boyfriend (at the time) and guests. After years of my handmade tea blend being well received, and being told that it was one of the best teas people have had (especially when some of those people are tea snobs!) I began thinking that it might be time to turn my passion into a business. Today, my first ever blend (my chai blend Spice Girls) has become one of our top sellers.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I actually put my ideas into play. The weekend of my 30th birthday – when I’d been feeling symptoms of the “aging blues” – my husband took me on a surprise trip to Miami. As I floated in the ocean in 90-degree weather, while it was below zero and snowing back home in New York City, I thought to myself, “anything is possible. I’m not old – I can still pick up and escape to someplace warm on a whim. I can do anything!” When I got out of the water, I laid on the sand and scribbled logo ideas in a notebook. I decided on some whimsical and catchy names for my blends. My 30th birthday present to myself was the freedom from the fear that had been holding me back – I was going to officially launch Oh You, TEAse.
Life is hard, but just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we still can’t have tea parties! Whether that looks like an evening in with our friends or sitting in a traffic jam with our travel mug – Oh You, TEAse helps reminds you that you are fun and fabulous! Let your hair down and put your pinkies up!
What is one piece of advice that you would give a young woman aspiring to fulfill her dream?
Believe in yourself, work hard and be kind to those you meet along the way.
As a busy woman, what is a time-saving technique or life hack that you would share?
Before bed, assemble overnight oats, braid your hair, slather feet in Vaseline and cotton socks,and hang your outfit for the next day in the bathroom. When you wake up, jump in the shower (skipping a hair wash) and afterwards you’ll instantly have freshly steamed clothes, beachy waves, sandal-ready feet and breakfast is made!
What is your guilty pleasure?
Binge watching my two favorite shows – Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Nanny.
Photography: Latreash McCurdy