Who Are We?
Meet Áine & Duncan!
The co-founders of INFUSE.
They are a couple who met at the University of Lincoln in 2010. Áine was studying for her BSc. (Hons) in Herbal Medicine and Duncan for his BSc. (Hons) in Acupuncture.
Both have a great passion for tea, with a particular interest in the traditional brewing methods, so they are very exacting in their standards.
Áine and Duncan's goal has always been to combine their love for tea, with their passion for helping others feel better and thus the plan was always to create a Tea Bar with treatment space.
Discover more about their journey below.
The Journey So Far...
When getting ready to launch her herbal practice, Áine stumbled across the TestTown competition; a Nationwide competition with a local heat in Coleraine. TestTown was designed to get young people inspired to bring new ideas to town centre locations.
Áine & Duncan entered the competition by putting a tea twist to Áine’s new herbal business, The Little Herbalista, where people could come in, have a cup of tea, and book in for a herbal consultation.
The pair won the local heat and went to Cambridge for the Grand Final. The competition became the inspiration to develop the Tea Bar concept, giving them a chance to test it in Cambridge; to much acclaim and excitement from the locals.
From this point onward, the pair became determined to open the first Tea Bar in Northern Ireland, specifically in Coleraine, with the long-term aim of incorporating their health practices into the business.
JOURNEY TO MARKET
The Journey to Market programme, run by the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, initiated the birth of INFUSE Artisan Tea. The programme pushed Áine & Duncan to develop their own unique range of high quality, loose leaf teas and allowed them to begin to share their passion and knowledge of tea locally.
Áine & Duncan took park in their very first market, as INFUSE Artisan Tea, in Coleraine as part of the showcase for the Journey to Market programme. From there they started attending other markets in Ballycastle, Portrush and even Ballyhackamore in Belfast. The markets became an integral part of the business and provided a great opportunity to talk to people about the long-term plan of the Tea Bar.
The packaging for INFUSE teas initially started in heat-sealed, kraft paper covered foiled pouches and in February 2017 these were upgraded to tea tins, which also acted as caddies.
The pouches still retail online as refills.
This was an exciting moment in the progression of the business, the new branding helped to add a level of class to the packaging.
SECURING TEA BAR
The journey to launch the Tea Bar was long and arduous, a three year long process with many setbacks, however, in the end things worked out and Áine & Duncan managed to secure a business loan in June, and shortly after their premesis on New Row.
Realising that their savings and bank loan would not be enough to launch the Tea Bar, Áine & Duncan decided to reach out and launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise extra funds. The pair were blown away with the level of support and managed to raise a total of £5,665, just above their target of £5,500, with 158 wonderful backers.
TEA BAR OPENS
The Tea Bar opened its doors on the last week of August. The interiors were designed by the wonderful Tracy McAllister of BTS Concept Store, helping to create a relaxing and Zen vibe. Áine & Duncan, alongside Tracy's help, have created a unique setting in Northern
Ireland, where tea is brewed to exacting standards.
CAUSEWAY CHAMBER AWARDS
Just weeks after opening, the business was shortlisted as a finalist for the Best New Start-Up Business in the Causeway Chamber Awards.
PUTTING DOWN ROOTS
After Áine qualified from university in 2013, she and Duncan moved to Northern Ireland with plans to set down roots and launch their perspective businesses.
BEING A TEA BAR MEANS STRIVING AT ALL TIMES TO GET THE BEST OUT OF THE TEA LEAVES, IT'S ABOUT CARING HOW THE TEA TASTES AND OFFERING A NEW WAY TO EXPERIENCE TEA.