Kym Cooper is co-founder of East Forged, which produces a brewed natural iced tea respectfully crafted by tea specialists.
Leveraging extensive knowledge of the tea industry, Kym and her co-founder Tania help drinkers who are moderating or abstaining from alcohol enjoy a refreshingly social new style of iced tea. Their award-winning beverages provide inclusive options that meet modern drinkers’ preferences for moderate and responsible alcohol consumption, together with health and wellness.
A recent acceptance into the Woolworth’s-backed Seedlab Australia Accelerator will provide East Forged with the opportunity to work directly with industry experts to grow and scale their capability to supply large retailers and export markets, making 2022 a year of exciting growth for this female-led business.
Tell us a bit more about East Forged tea.
We cold brew leaf tea and pair it with fruit juice to deliver a natural tea taste without sugars or sweeteners. We inject light carbonation but mostly we infuse nitrogen to give our customers a smooth and textural drinking experience that is visually appealing – similar to a nitrogenated beer such as Guinness.
What made you decide to create such an innovative beverage?
My Co-founder, Tania Stacey, and I are tea specialists who shared the same frustration at the lack of innovation in the iced tea beverage category. The natural tea taste in a convenient format was not available for tea drinkers.
Together, we have developed a deep understanding of the processes required to bring out the best aroma and taste of tea. We have traveled to the tea farms, built relationships with the tea farmers, studied the operations behind tea, tasted hundreds of different teas and competed in tea brewing competitions. Using this experience, we have built a library of tea flavours that we can tap into when developing our beverages flavours, and we use our long-standing relationships to source tea directly from our tea farmers.
Where in Queensland are you located?
Our head office is located on Meanjin Country (Brisbane). I love the outdoor lifestyle and the green spaces that are abundant in Brisbane. Our family loves the early starts to the day, the playgrounds and the warm weather… that also happens to be perfectly suited to refreshing cold tea beverages!
Tell us about a recent success in your business?
We pitched recently to the Woolworth’s backed Seedlab Australia Accelerator to become part of their Cultivate Programme, and we were delighted to hear that we have been accepted. An opportunity to work directly with industry experts for the next 4 months to grow and scale our capabilities to supply large retailers and export markets is one of the best outcomes we could have hoped for coming out of 2021.
“We pitched recently to the Woolworth’s-backed Seedlab Australia Accelerator
to become part of their Cultivate Programme, and we were delighted to hear
that we have been accepted”
What are you most excited about in the next 12 months?
As a remote working founder team, I am very excited about the prospect of catching up in real life with my co-founder. Tania is based in regional Victoria. Nothing quite beats the value and power of in-person connection. We have not had an opportunity to stop and celebrate our achievements of 2021 together and this is really important to us as females and also the culture we strive to build within East Forged.
How has the Advance Queensland Female Founders Impact Program helped you?
I have found the Female Founders workshops and newsletters to be useful resources along my East Forged journey. The Intellectual Property (IP) Masterclass was beneficial in the early days of our journey and more recently I found the ‘What Investors Want‘ Webinar, with a panel of local female angel investors, to be particularly informative and relevant for our current stage of business. Their approaches to evaluating businesses helped me think about how to approach different types of investors.
I have also participated in the Female Founders Mentoring program. A one-on-one business advisory session with Cameron Johns helped to shape our next strategic steps.
I find the practical insights I gain from the Female Founders network to be really helpful when thinking about challenges and problems in our business, particularly those insights and perspectives that may not be available across my other peer networks.
“I find the practical insights I gain from the Female Founders network to be really helpful
when thinking about challenges and problems in our business.”