This is part of the Flux Discovery Series. Each week we feature a promising new startup on the LA scene.
This week, we interviewed Josephine Tehrani, CEO of Red Gem Roasters.
What does your company do?
Red Gem Roasters is a premium coffee roasting company committed to providing quality coffee at an affordable price. Founded by a UCLA student, we know first-hand the struggle of finding specialty coffee that doesn't break the bank. We roast our coffees fresh daily using only the best AA Grade, fair trade beans from around the world. We offer an assortment of organic, light, medium and dark roast coffees. We also offer a specialty line of all-natural flavor-infused coffees. Whole bean, ground or tailor-made cold brews all at your convenience with special pricing for students. We are mainly online and wholesale, providing coffees to individuals as well as various stores, cafes, restaurants and offices in LA and expanding.
Every month we have a Flavor of the Month- this month’s is “New Year New Me” with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and molasses.
When did you start it?
What is your role in the company?
I am the CEO and Founder. I handle branding, distribution, social media and so on.
How did you get the idea?
As a coffee connoisseur, I’ve always appreciated specialty coffee. I’m very specific with my tastes and Starbucks just doesn’t cut it for me. At the same time, being a student makes it hard to enjoy great coffee without spending a fortune. I also saw the barely drinkable coffee served on our own UCLA campus and knew that I had to make a difference. I wanted to afford everyone the right to have amazing coffee so I came up with the idea to launch a line of premium coffee that everyone can afford, especially students.
What were some of the struggles you faced in early stages of the company?
There are so many coffees out there so competition and getting the word out is definitely a key struggle but it’s amazing to see how many people will want to support you because they believe in what you’re doing.
What has been the most exciting thing about the process so far?
It’s amazing to see all the baby steps I’ve been taking get me closer to success. Even when I’m feeling discouraged I see how far I’ve come and that pushes me to keep persevering.
What is the big vision for the company? What does the future look like?
Ideally, I would like to be serving Red Gem in the UCLA cafes and potentially all of the UCs. As students we need our caffeine and for the prices we pay for the coffee on campus, we should be getting something that actually tastes good and is good for us! Also, as a main focus of the company is wholesaling, I hope to be in major retailers like Ralphs, Whole Foods and Gelson’s among others.
What are some milestones you’ve achieved?
Getting into local supermarket, Vicente Foods in Brentwood was a really amazing experience. Also, we’re currently in other cafes, restaurants and offices in LA and are expanding. Lastly, we recently launched a line of cold-brews which are really popular with students since most of us don’t have time to make our coffee!
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
If you have an idea and you’re really passionate about it, just do it- whatever steps you can take, even if they are small, just start making moves. It may sound cliche, but It really is all the small things you do that make all the difference. People will give you a lot of advice about what to/ not do for your company, but at the end of the day it all really comes to what you value and what’s important to you and the message you are trying to create. Also, never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something :)
Anything else to add?
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