Experience has always remained at the core of DAVIDsTEA since David Segal, a self-proclaimed tea connoisseur, opened his first lifestyle retailer in Toronto back in 2008.
The company was a game changer at the time: tea, despite being a traditional drink celebrated over centuries-old rituals across Asia, and the second-most-consumed beverage after water, was still in the early innings of mass adoption in North America. Segal carved out a sweet spot of what he previously described as “nose-to-cup transfer” that ensures the consistency between the scent and flavor of their products.
After launching roughly 160 DAVIDsTEA stores before taking the company public in 2015, Segal was itching to bring his favorite collection of globally sourced tea closer to the consumer, which later fueled the birth of his new venture: Firebelly, a premium loose leaf tea and steepware brand that elevates the drinking experience with better health benefits and mobility.
“Firebelly is really an opportunity for me to curate a collection of tea I drink each and every day for the consumer,” Segal recently told me during an exclusive interview. “We don’t use any artificial flavoring in our tea; just really high quality, certified organic ingredients like Madagascar vanilla” to develop complexity in the cup through slowly dissipated flavors.
A primarily direct-to-consumer business, Firebelly offers a redolent amalgamation of tea, spices and herbs in over 40 different varieties. Shoppers can search products online based on their preferred types of tea, benefits, and flavors:
A Good Root for example, which is infused with ginger, turmeric, and galangal, gives away a kick of sweetness, while supporting digestion and brain function; A Breath of Fresh Air, made with rainforest peppermint and eucalyptus, helps fight inflammation. “So the name ‘Firebelly’ is about the idea of putting fire in your belly, helping you energize and focus in the middle of the day, and helping you relax and rejuvenate in the evening,” Segal explained.
Level-Up Drinking Experience
Accessories ranging from tea strainer, stop-infusion travel mug, stainless steel whisk to a variety of artisanal teapots are another highlight of Firebelly, designed to level-up the drinking experience.
“Our accessories are full of smart features; they’re modern, and they easily enhance the quality of tea rituals,” Segal mentioned, noting how their leak-proof mug contains an inner chamber that can keep hot or iced tea at a consistent temperature for hours. “It’s one cohesive design language,” he added. “We designed a highly giftable product, and overall a beautiful brand.”
Firebelly’s design-forward nature will help the company further foray into the gifting aisle now that it’s already slowly expanding in high-end retail, such as Bloomingdale’s. The goal is to make Fireblly as accessible as possible, according to Segal.
“2022 was our first full year since the launch, and we’re more than doubling [our revenue] every year,” Segal said. “We obviously need growth, but how fast we grow is far less important than how well our products are being received by the customer.”
“We never know what the future holds. We’re far more focused on the input than the end result,” he added, “and that’s about great products, great customer service, and adding value for our customers.”