CEA Minority-Owned Winner: Steeping In Success

By Cece Nunn, posted May 3, 2024
MINORITY-OWNED | Queen Esther Teas | Adrienne Arrington-Kenion, Owner | Year Founded: 2019 | Employees: 6 (Photo By Malcolm Little)
Adrienne Arrington-Kenion had a problem.

Actually, a plethora of problems.

Like something out of a Pepto commercial, she was struggling with heartburn, indigestion, an upset stomach and nausea. But over-the-counter medications did nothing to provide Arrington-Kenion with some relief.

“I Googled what people use before medicine, and herbs is what came up. So I researched what herbs supported healthy digestion, and it gave me some suggestions,” she said. “I wasn’t sure at first how to implement those herbs into my diet until I came across just adding them to hot water and making tea. And I thought that was extremely easy.”

Arrington-Kenion said she got immediate relief from these efforts, “more relief than I had with any of the failed over-the-counter medicines.”

She decided to share her creation, eventually naming her company, Queen Esther Teas, after her grandmother.

“I started making teas for my friends, and the word spread,” she said. “I then started a website, which just kind of grew and grew. Every year, I saw more growth with my business.”

At first, Arrington-Kenion mainly sold her teas online.

“Then I started doing the farmers markets here, and I discovered that was the best way to get my product to the most people,” Arrington-Kenion said.

These days, most of her sales come from farmers markets and festivals, including the N.C. Azalea Festival in Wilmington and the N.C. Fourth of July Festival in Southport.

While her teas alleviated the symptoms that led her to seek out an alternative treatment, she eventually discovered that eating meat was the likely cause.

“I still sometimes feel the discomfort, and I still do use the teas because the meat wasn’t the whole thing,” Arrington-Kenion said.

She previously worked for a nonprofit that serves schools, but now she operates Queen Esther Teas full time.

More than just the markets and festivals have supported Queen Esther Teas. Her products are also in local stores, including The Kitchen Sink, Seaside Bagels and Tidal Creek, among others.

“I take a lot of time formulating these blends to make sure they’re palatable so that you enjoy drinking them and don’t just feel like you have to drink them,” Arrington-Kenion said. “That way, the tea really builds up in your system.”

Customers have reported reduced stress levels, better sleep and other improvements.

Arrington-Kenion anticipates that her company will continue to grow.

“I definitely am taking my time studying the market, studying the trends. I have a lot of friends who have opened brick-and-mortars, and I’m just watching how things work through that,” Arrington-Kenion said. “I’m making sure not to do it too fast but also to do it soon enough.”

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