The Motivation Behind Establishing New Leaf Brands: The CEO' Shares His Story

09 Building a New Brand By Eric Skae, CEO and Founder, New Leaf Brands

After spending many years holding senior positions at top beverage brands, I knew that eventually I wanted to have my own company—I’m an entrepreneur at heart.

One of the opportunities I noticed was that the mainstream RTD (ready-to-drink) iced tea category lacked a healthy and great tasting beverage. I was surprised—many of the top RTD iced tea brands contain artificial ingredients and my gut instinct told me that consumers deserved something better—a beverage that tasted great and contained only natural ingredients.

In 2004, and working with a shoestring budget, I created New Leaf Brands. I enjoyed spending several years developing our proprietary formula to get the taste just right—New Leaf was founded to set a new standard in taste for RTD iced teas, which is why we’re known as “The Official Beverage of Taste™”. We seem to be succeeding at this because “Everyday with Rachael Ray” called our White Tea with Strawberry the “best tasting white tea” and our Green Tea with Mango just won first place at the North American Tea Championships.

In developing New Leaf’s line of iced teas, I deliberately chose all-natural flavors and selected the highest quality ingredients, which includes 100-percent organic cane sugar. The result is a superior taste experience that rivals all other RTD iced teas in today’s market. From my experience, iced tea tastes better when it isn’t obscured by high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients.

According to the Ancient Tea Masters, teas are classified into six different tea families by color. For example, due to the bluish reflections of the Oolong Tea leaf in its dried form, Oolong Tea is classified as a “Blue Tea”.

I’m proud that today, New Leaf offers 13 all-natural and creative flavors of RTD iced teas. Some of the flavors, like White tea with Honeydew Melon and White Tea with Strawberry aren’t offered by other brands. Following is an outline:

• White Tea Flavors – Strawberry and Honeydew Melon

• Green Tea Flavors -- Plum, Mango and Ginseng & Honey

• Blue Tea Flavors -- Peach, Lemon, Diet Peach, Diet Lemon, and Raspberry

• Black Tea Flavors -- Sweet Tea, Mo-Tea-To (Mint & Lime), Unsweetened

Also, we just introduced four new Lemonade flavors—Black Cherry, Strawberry, Homemade Lemonade and “The Tiger,” a refreshing blend of half-iced tea and half-lemonade.

My goal for New Leaf was to develop an everyday beverage for the everyday consumer. To make this happen, our distribution strategy includes focusing on convenience stores, delis, restaurants and pizzerias, in addition to health food stores and grocery store chains.

To ensure that New Leaf’s spectrum of iced teas are accessible to as many people as possible, our sales team is aggressively expanding our distribution both nationally and internationally. Our goal is to secure full national distribution within the next few years.

New Leaf has a strong presence in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast; in fact, our beverages are carried in Whole Foods throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Through recent agreements, we have doubled our distribution in the New York City metro area; expanded into southern California; secured Arizona and also established a solid presence in Chicago. New Leaf is quickly growing its distribution in Florida and the Southeast and is focusing on continued growth in the Midwest and West and Northwest.

In addition to launching a new, consumer-friendly and redesigned website, New Leaf is also strategically leveraging key social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.