Nicole Allen, graduate of NC A&T, is an engineer by trade. By all other accounts, she is a God fearing, champion for young girls, whose always been an entrepreneur at heart. Born in New York but raised in North Carolina, Allen is a quintessential southern belle with northern savvy. She was the student on campus that was selling the sandwiches and snacks from the care packages her mom packed to fellow students to make extra money. So its no surprise that she is now the owner of a flourishing tea company affectionately named after her grandmother whom she adoringly refers to as “the love of my life” called Jeanmarie Tea Co.
It was a question that was posed at an executive coaching seminar that reignited a passion she had long ago set aside while climbing the corporate ladder. “What is Nicole good at and what would she forsake everything that she has; to do? The response her sister wrote was something she’d loved since the age of two. “Nicole is good at throwing tea parties.” And from that day forward, that’s exactly what Allen has been doing while maintaining her career as an engineer.
Jeanmarie Tea Co. is a full service afternoon tea company that provides services in your home or on location. Allen prides herself on the “experience” that Jeanmarie provides. Its the value of the experience that her grandmother instilled in her so many years ago that Allen still remembers to this day, recalling her grandmothers belief that, “ “When you pour someone the tea, you’ll find that pouring the tea was always secondary. That person was always first.” From the freshly cut flowers, to fresh baked desserts and pastries, as well as organic fruits to the intricacies of the design and decor, Jeanmarie Tea Co creates an afternoon tea experience that stimulates all five senses. In addition to hosting tea parties and events, Jeanmarie Tea Co also sales pre-designed and custom made afternoon tea baskets for special occasions, holidays and corporate gifting. Another unique quality of Jeanmarie that brings a smile to Allen’s face when discussing is the makeup of here wait staff. “I wanted to do a little bit of a twist to my wait staff, so we have an all male wait service.” Needless to say, this a huge draw for the clients that Jeanmarie services.
A key component to the success of Jeanmarie Tea Co has been Allen’s ability to create vendor relationships. “If I’m very truthful, I haven’t gone to a lot of networking events. I’ve just been prayerful and said God here are the desires of my heart, these are the people I’d love to work with.” One such relationship was established by her willingness to help out a fellow entrepreneur when she needed assistance running her booth at a local farmers market. Allen volunteered to help her free of charge and was eventually able to conduct market research to see what recipes worked and which ones needed revamping while selling her teas at the booth. That partnership is a vendor relationship that Allen still utilizes presently. Additionally, “I’d meet people at different events and I wouldn’t be shy to say, I love what you’re doing. How can I partner with you?” Its been Allen’s selflessness in helping others and her ability to dialogue that have helped her to forge some great business relationships in the growth and success of The Jeanmaire Tea Co.
Next up for Allen & Jeanmarie Tea Co is a signature design for their gift baskets as well as public events like “Art of Tea” which is being held August 6th at Hamilton Scot Inn in Cary, NC. She is also expanding her event services to other states. Eventually, Allen is looking to bottle her teas and has already started to research that aspect of the business. With someone as ambitious and savvy as Allen at the helm, Jeanmaire Tea Co will be a trusted household brand in the very near future.
Allen’s advice to current and future entrepreneurs, “Practice the art of listening.” It was her mentor that told her “Speak 90% less and listen 100% more and you’ll be successful.”
Jeanmarie Tea Co