Ellis Island Tea was founded in 2008 in Detroit by owner Nailah Ellis-Brown when she was 20 years old. She has turned an old family recipe into a thriving business that continues to reach new heights.
“Growing up in Detroit, I knew nothing was going to be handed to me. I expected doors to be closed and knew I would need to work hard and never take ‘no’ for an answer,” she said in a statement according to BlackNews.com. “I’ve heard ‘no’ but I haven’t let that stand in my way. There is always a way forward.”
Last year, Nailah’s bottled Jamaican Sweet Teas was sold in Sam’s Club stores in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. The response that the tea received was so good that Sam’s Club decided to give it a try in the rest if it’s locations. As of May 16 you can find Ellis Island Tea in every Sam’s Club location (over 600) in the U.S.
“This Sam’s Club order is by far the biggest order I’ve received in my 10 years in business,” Nailah Ellis-Brown told the Michigan Chronicle. “It’s exciting to have our plant operational every day almost ’round the clock. I know I am creating jobs for fellow Detroiters, which has been one of my goals since I opened my plant in 2014.”
Before the deal with Sam’s Club, Ellis Island Teas was already sold in more than 500 stores including Whole Foods, Meijer and Kroger. You could also find the beverage in airports nationwide and online. According to the Michigan Chronicle, Nailah is the only African American female beverage maker in the U.S. with her own manufacturing plant. The Detroit businesswoman has gone on to be featured on Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was crowned the winner of Centric TV’s Queen Boss business competition.