BRUSSELS: Naina Madan developed her concept of making fresh hand-blended teas, tisane and chai customised to match moods when things were taking a negative turn in the world. That was not in March this year when COVID-19 brought about a major disruption to the world we knew. “I came up with the concept of Madn77 around three years ago. There was Trump, there was Brexit, there was too much negativity around me and I recall that my mother would have a tea for every moment,” Naina told Food and Wine Gazette.
Her original plan was to focus on consumers but selling to cafes’ and restaurants picked up well and became the focus of the business until COVID-19 struck and she had to completely rethink her strategy.
“I was like a very small fish in the pond and there were many more established brands but I was lucky because everyone was open to listen and when Filgranes Café decided to serve my teas it opened many doors and sales started to grow,” she said.
What’s unique about Madn77 is that the teas are all made to order. “When a consumer buys the teas, they are blended at the point of order and this ensures a level of freshness that big brands cannot offer,” she said.
When COVID-19 struck some of her customers asked her specifically for teas to calm down and together with her customers she composed teas specifically for them based on what they liked, their feelings and what they needed.
That has always been her vision for Madn77. She specialises in fresh hand-blended teas, tisanes and chais that are customised to match the mood.
That makes her teas pretty unique but how does she intend to ensure that the quality and concept remains the same when the business grows. She said she was already in discussion with an association for disabled persons to help with the blending process. “I was already in touch with them before COVID-19 but for the time being we need to take all the necessary precautions.”
She is very much focused on giving a helping hand to people in need when procuring her teas and also to minimise her carbon footprint when getting teas from China, Japan, South Africa or India.
“I realised that shopping for small amounts meant that the carbon footprint of the teas was significant. So I have found the right supplier that buys in bulk at the required quality and can get one shipment instead. She is now in discussions to procure the chai direct because she wants to give an opportunity to women than had fallen victims of prostitution. Eventually, I also want to do the same with the Sencha and Matcha working to buy from underprivileged people,” she said.
Naina self-thought herself how to make tea following on the advice of her month. “My mum has been doing this for 30 years. I learned from her. I learned from reading. I looked for tea suppliers, for spices and herbs,” she said.
Her focus was always on wellness, particularly with the idea of bringing a smile on people’s faces. “Now with the pandemic that focus is even more important and I am focusing not just on wellness teas but also on teas that can boost your immunity. COVID-19 has thought me that you cannot really put all your eggs in one basket. We need to be ready for anything and have to widen your horizon and be open for change very quickly.”
Naina, who is Dutch born and of Indian origin feels has been living in Brussels, Belgium for the past three years and she has been surprised at the support she has received from local companies.
She attributes her entrepreneurial spirit to her family and while she was and still loves her coffee, she is aware that tea is the fastest growing drink after water.
The name MADN comes from her Dutch and Indian origins (Amsterdam and New Delhi) as well as a play on her surname.
Her vision is to get people to enjoy a tea. “Take a chai for example. It is very healthy and can detox your body. It also helps you to relax. Everyone deserves to take a few minutes to sit and relax with a chai tea. Her Breath line is a compilation of different tisanes aimed at relaxation.
She has a vision of how to grow her business. In five years, her aim is to have stores in Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam and London. “It will not be your typical shop. I want the people who work there to come from different backgrounds. We all belong, we are all one. I want to be able to serve tea, to sell tea and also food that is a fusion between each locality and my Indian and Dutch roots. It will have a relaxing vibe and people will be able to compose their own tea, just like they can do at the moment,” she said.
But we will have to wait until her children grow older and are more independent. For the time being, we can enjoy Naina’s teas either in the comfort of our homes or else in special stockists.