HER-CHA Tea Co-Founder Talks Time at Graziadio Business School
Share your business success with us:
"HER-CHA is the sounding of a Chinese phrase that means “to drink tea." "HER" is also the sounding of the word "harmony." It is the harmony between nature and one's spirit and a higher level of human consciousness. I founded HER-CHA having these visions in mind. Part of HER-CHA's success is to connect our customers to tea artisans who are nature's conductors. Many of our customers may not have the opportunity to travel around China like what we did, but the very taste profile of each tea will bring them to the source, the taste of the spring water, and the aroma of tea field orchid.
Like any ambitious vision, I had to overcome many challenges. I wanted to have a designer packaging that will match our tea. However, the time was late August, and I had two weeks left in China to put all the pieces together. We had an incredibly supportive team and some great business partners with a "can-do" attitude. Within the timeframe, we did everything, including package design, material safety verification, user experience optimization, and a complete e-commerce website. Within the first ten days of our initial launch, we've reached 100+ LinkedIn business page followers. As of January 3rd, we've recovered all the capital investment of the business and start profiting on every new order moving forward."
Name: Andy Hakobyan
Company: HER-CHA Tea
Program: MSML '13
Do you have a favorite class or Graziadio memory that influenced your career?
"There were many memorable moments during my time at Graziadio Business School, and if I have to pick a favorite, it would be the cross-cultural class with Dr. Maggi Phillips. Many of these tea artisans I visited live in remote places and have established their reputation through native tea connoisseurs. In addition to the language barrier, there were enormous cultural and subcultural differences. Thanks to my cross-cultural training, I was able to build rapport with them and gain their trust and respect. As a result, we favorably completed our negotiations and laid a foundation for a long-term relationship. It was a real-life BaFa' BaFa' experience."
What professional advice have you received that has helped shape your career?
"My life-long mentor and the very person who encouraged me to study at the Graziadio School, Hannah Levitas, once said: “you are the architect of your own life." It has become my life motto. Throughout my career, I've worked in leadership roles within sales, project management, and finance. It was to the point that I strongly felt a corporate position no longer fulfill my full potential. Her words have inspired me to start my own business. The challenges that seemed frustrating at the time are the source of my energy and the reason I wake up every day with full motivation."
How have you been involved with the Graziadio School and how have you benefited from that experience?
"Pepperdine, in general, has a very special meaning to me. In addition to providing me an excellent education and network, it is the place where I met my wife Yiming “Sunny" Shao, who was a Public Policy Grad student at the time. We met in 2013 and got married in 2015. Both being Pepperdine alumni, my wife and I volunteer our time when we can to support our alumni association. Recently, we were at the USO in San Diego, giving goodie bags to active military members. Our continuous involvement connects us to the greater community of alumni and students. It was truly heart-warming to see so many professionals in their fields enthusiastic about giving back to society. When we shook hands with these military members and conversed, we've learned a little bit about them and their lives. This is something I would not get if I lived my day-to-day life. At that moment, I felt more connected to the world. To me, that is what Graziadio School is about: lives of purpose, services, and leadership."
Share something a novel personal point (e.g. hobby, special skill, unique accomplishment):
"Both my wife and I enjoy traveling around the globe. We increase our reach through each additional step. We update our perspectives through every conversation. We expand our comfort zone through many cultural shocks. On the one hand, we are getting to know a bigger world. On the other hand, we realize how small we are in this universe. Our minor worries become less significant, and it makes us more appreciative of what we have."