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GCC Student’s Tea Makes Its Way to Whole Foods

GROVE CITY, Pa. – A business started by a senior entrepreneurship major at Grove City College has found a home in Whole Foods stores.

Treecup Tea, founded by Mark Sotomayor, went on sale at three stores in the Pittsburgh area Feb. 25 after a four-month on boarding process. Sotomayor started the business in 2017.

“We have a biodegradable bottle, a philanthropic effect, unique organic and fair trade blends and have no preservatives,” Sotomayor says. “I study entrepreneurship, so I always thought it proper for me to try graduating into my own business. I always thought the idea of having to get a job upon graduating was counter-intuitive to my major.”

Sotomayor makes the tea himself at a commercial kitchen at a local VFW hall, using recipes built off family traditions, before bottling and labeling the products. Treecup Tea partners with Haiti Friends to plant trees in Deschappelles, Haiti. So far, the partnership is responsible for planting 14,000 trees in an area that’s 80% deforested.

In its development, Treecup Tea had aid from Grove City College’s Entrepreneurship Program, which includes the academic department and the Center for Entrepreneurship+Innovation. It was also funded in part by the money Sotomayor won in the Wolverine Venture Battle business competition.

“Mark is a great example of a student who has taken advantage of all that E+I has to offer. He has participated in various competitions, attended our Venture U educational seminars, learned from a variety of speakers and mentors, and worked on the business concept in our VentureLab program,” said Center for Entrepreneurship+Innovation’s executive director, Yvonne English. “He has worked incredibly hard to turn his vision into a reality, and I am most proud of the fact that he has incorporated a social mission into his business that will change people’s lives in Haiti for the better.”

Treecup Tea is also available through its website. A list of stores carrying the products can be found here.

Pictured: Treecup Tea founder Mark Sotomayor with tree seedlings in Haiti. Image via Grove City College.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.