The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Hear me out. We all agree that coffee, tea, or boba is essential in our daily lives, right? But have you ever thought about the damage that this causes to your body?
Here’s my conversation with Kashish Juneja, CEO and founder of Aura Tea, the first sugar-free, vegan boba tea.
hello! could you start by introducing yourself and your company?
My name is Kashish Juneja, a graduating student currently studying Business with a minor in Data Science at UC Berkeley. I am also a co-founder of Aura Tea, which I started two years ago as a healthy option for boba tea.
Aura Tea goes beyond boba; we are a community of leaders and agents of change surrounded by a common denominator. Our drink is not just for certain people, but a tool to bring together a diverse group of people who care about their health.
how was aura tea born?
I grew up in Cupertino, which is a boba bubble, where it first hit the U.S. So, I’ve been drinking boba pretty much my whole life. However, this affected my health and my weight. At UC Berkeley, I took entrepreneurship classes, got into Haas, and realized that this is a problem that a lot of people face. So, I decided to create a solution to this problem while helping other boba lovers.
To be honest, I had no idea how to get started, but after going to the entrepreneur center on campus and with my experience at LoopChat (startup), I began putting the pieces together. I got the funding, and from there, my co-founder and I started our journey. We made mistakes along the way, and still do now, but it’s all about learning from those mistakes and becoming better.
what do you think was your most challenging hardship, and how did you overcome it?
For a long time, our branding was a problem. We had the product, but nobody bought it. At first, it wasn’t even sugar-free or plant-based — it was just a regular drink. I realize now that for your business to work well you have to fill a gap in the market, and we were not filling one at the time. I decided to transform the product to fill an audience’s need. It wasn’t a success right away; it was a process.
as a young woman, how has this impacted your career?
When writing emails, you can hide behind the screen. No one knows who you are, and they treat you like everyone else. But as a woman and a college student… there have been scenarios where someone would walk right past me when they were supposed to meet me in person. Do you know what they were thinking? “There’s no way I’m meeting her.” There are other times when people try to take advantage of you simply because you are a woman.
You wonder if they are talking to you for business, or because they have ulterior motives. Women are so objectified in society and even more when in leadership positions and this is not talked about enough. Even now, I have to be very cautious about it.
what would be a piece of advice for our readers who also want to start their own business?
Invest time in surrounding yourself with the right people. Make sure you are surrounded by people who are also business-minded. If your circle isn’t supportive, you won’t be able to grow your brand. Your brand requires community, and it starts with the people closest to you. Choose people who really sum up your life the way you would sum up theirs.
keeping it real, what do you do to keep your aura clean?
I love that question! The honest answer is that sometimes I go insane (laughs). There are times when I don’t have a balance: I overload, I overbook, and I get overwhelmed. At the end of the day, it is key to realize that we are all human beings and that if we do not put our mental health first, we will not be productive.
With the brand itself, we started a mental health series (on Instagram) with other creators. I have learned to prioritize myself, even from the simplest decisions. It’s OK to take a break, you know? It’s totally fine, and we all need it.
You just opened your first store in San Francisco. what is your next goal?
We have the physical storefront. So the next step is to make our SF location a success and from there, expand to Los Angeles and every other major city in the U.S. At the same time, we are launching our first grab-and-go e-commerce channel. I want everyone who hasn’t heard of boba before to learn about it while also bringing it back to the hands of people who gave up on it. I admire the new direction that the Meta is bringing. So, I’m exploring ways to unite our physical store with the Meta storefront and create a virtual space where people can interact.
Some final words for our readers?
Be fearless. Society is going to be hard on you regardless. So, do things that you are passionate about — only you can do them. If you are constant, it will work out in the end. This is what I tell myself every day… Who knows what will happen tomorrow? But today, go ahead and do something you truly believe in!
You can visit Kashish and her team at their store in San Francisco (121 Spear St Suite B05, San Francisco, CA 94105) any day of the week from 9AM–8PM.