Detroit tea-maker, Ellis Island Tea, inks huge deal with Sam's Club

Ellis Island Tea has been an impressive business success story. The company, which produces a traditional Jamaican hibiscus bottled tea, was founded in 2008 in Detroit by then 20-year-old Nailah Ellis-Brown. It has since grown immensely, and you can now find the bottled tea in major supermarkets like Meijer and Whole Foods. 

And as of May 16, you can also find it in every Sam's Club location—over 600—in the U.S.

In a column penned by Ellis-Brown for Sam's Club, she talks about her humble beginnings selling tea out of a cooler to eventually being featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 and the Root 100 lists. 

And in an article for the Michigan Chronicle about the distribution deal, Ellis-Brown said, "This Sam's Club order is by far the biggest order I've received in my 10 years in business. 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."

We know that's true, because in a profile in our publication, she stressed how important it was to hire Detroit residents, "particularly those of color."

According to the Michigan Chronicle, "Ellis-Brown is the only African American female beverage maker in the United States with her own manufacturing plant. Since opening her state-of-the-art facility, she's been able to provide services for other small beverage companies who can't afford the minimum batch requirements of larger production outlets."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Read more articles by Aaron Mondry.

Aaron Mondry is the managing editor of Model D and a Detroit-based freelance writer. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @AaronMondry.
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