Well first of all, the name May King from MayKingTea is my real first name and I remember at school being teased for that. Are you MayKingTea today, are you MayKingBabies? Kids can be so cruel can’t they? And in fact, when I first broke into the networking circuit, I had another name for my tea business. When I introduced myself as May King Tsang, and people asked me to repeat my name, as an icebreaker, I would say, “May King as in MayKingTea”. Well after speaking to a friend of mine who said that it was a great name for a business, I shrugged my shoulders and said, yeah why not? So that’s where the name originated.
How I came to start a business in tea is a really funny story. I’ve been drinking tea since I was yay high (imagine me indicating my height with my left hand :-)) but just like everyone else, I was probably drinking the not so great stuff. Jasmine tea that was loose leaf but probably scented with jasmine essence rather than scented with the real flowers; drinking Pu’erh in Chinese restaurants when ordering Dim Sum on a Sunday but none of the lovely aged cooked stuff that I’m accustomed to now.
A very good friend of mine asked me to go into business with him, to open up, wait for it, a coffee house :o) But a coffee house with art evenings such as film showings, poetry readings, talks by artists, that kind of thing. We did a bit of research and I reluctantly went into a Starbucks coffee house to check out the competition. I had to call my husband up to find out from him what coffee I ought to drink! And when I looked at the tea menu, all they had were tea-bag herbal infusions, and that was when I had my eureka moment. It wasn’t a coffee house I was interested in but a tea-house!
I went back to my friend and impressed on him about the tea-house idea. He loved it, and we refined our research. As time went on we realised that our visions for the tea-house were quite different and so we went our separate ways but he’s still a very good friend of mine, and that’s how I came into the world of tea.
So that was, I guess my first lesson I learned in business. You can’t go into a business if you’re not passionate about the product or service. If you go into a business purely to make money, many authors will tell you that the business is probably doomed to fail.