Part One: 2016
I realized I haven’t ever shared the story behind why I started Rasa here! So, why *did* I start Rasa? Necessity was the mother of this invention! And becoming a mother myself was a big driver of that necessity.
I had an epically stressful year—I left a traumatically-abusive spiritual community, had emergency back surgery (while pregnant), lost a beloved family member, had a traumatic Cesarean birth, and more…and then had a precious angel waking me up all hours of the night.
I was beaten down and exhausted, and coffee didn't help: helloooo anxiety, jitters, panic attacks, and even worse sleep than before! 😕
The available alternatives left something to be desired, which had me questioning why there were so few delicious, energizing options…and coffee itself as a daily ritual went so culturally unquestioned even though it comes with addiction and side effects.
So I partnered with an herbalist to create Rasa: delicious, *super*functional coffee alternatives that lean on adaptogens for energy rather than stimulants. Rasa became my golden thread of inspiration in the darkness, and I held on tight.
What started with me elbow-deep blending herbs in my kitchen has now grown to serve over 125,000 customers worldwide (just counted yesterday)! 🙌
Photo from when we first soft-launched at an herb fair, with 5-month-old Henrik strapped to me. 😇 We’ve come a looonnnng way, baby! 🚀
Part Two: 2017
I did the majority of my early Rasa work either while babywearing and bouncing Henrik on the ball as he slept, or lying down on my phone as he slept on me or breastfed next to me. Pretty sure I still have some neck kinks from lying in awkward positions from that time 😛
I had two other business ideas I was intensively noodling on - Guru Review, a platform to review spiritual teachers (that obvs came out of my experience in an abusive spiritual community); and The Village, a concept for a space that was part co-working, part progressive early childhood education, and part elderly companionship, all under the same roof.
Both still great ideas, & I deeply considered pursuing them (& who knows, maybe still will someday 🤷♀️).
Meanwhile I’d built us a very basic website, and packaging I designed myself (note: #notadesigner) with a logo I bought an extended license for on Shutterstock. We somehow sold ~$25,000 in product our first year with zero marketing. A decent start, but nowhere near where I saw Rasa could go.
If you scope out our Instagram from way back when, you’ll see our confused, “what even are we?” kinda posts. 😛 SO much learning, all the way. (& hey, while you’re there, like some of our old posts, k? The Almighty Algorithm loves that shiz.)
Part Three: 2018
We hard-launched Rasa in April 2018. I was 4 weeks postpartum with my 2nd son—NOT the timing I’d planned…I wanted to launch Sept 2017, but my commitment to compostable packaging was already proving expensive (our packaging was 6 months late), & website development was going stupidly slow (a good lesson to #pickyourpartners carefully!).
It was also my first rodeo, & while I’m a very capable person, I’ve been “building the plane while flying the plane” (not to mention “learning how to build & fly a plane” 😬) this whole time. If I did it all again, there’s a LOT of things I’d naturally do differently now that I have the experience!
I did soon make our first Rasa hire, and as it became clear that I was going to have this baby before the business launched, we put out job descriptions for more support. I did a number of job interviews while lying in bed with the baby (who didn’t have a name for 3 weeks). I’m sure at least a few of those interviewees saw at least one of my boobs. 😛🤱
The pre-& post-launch period was HARD. Any parent who has done it can tell you that the shift from 1 child to 2 is MAJOR, even without trying to launch a business. My nervous system was fried, my sleep was horrendous (which is totes normal), my mental health was NOT good (postpartum was very hard on me with both babes, and I was dealing with CPTSD on top of that).
I’m a big advocate for taking 6 weeks of rest postpartum, and though I started working again 4 days after the baby, I stayed mostly in bed for most of that 6 weeks & my sweet husband—who was managing Rasa production runs and operational logistics while also being the rock for our 2.5 year old toddler and keeping his day job—would bring me breakfast & Rasa in bed on a tray every morning.
I remember SO clearly those first sips of Rasa each day—it felt distinctly like the herbs were plumping up & nourishing my depleted, exhausted cells. This feeling, and the amazing reviews we were already getting, became the new golden thread of inspiration that kept me going.