Just six months after the launch of Sheena Foster’s specialty tea company CuriosiTeas NYC, this Harlem resident and New Orleans, LA native was given a full page feature in Jet Magazine, highlighting some of her accomplishments as a new entrepreneur and an inside peek into her personal joys and guilty pleasures.
Sheena Foster spent nearly seven years working in the labor movement where she negotiated and enforced contracts for union members and as an international labor researcher working on projects in the U.S, South America, Africa and Europe. After volunteering to build homes with Habitat for Humanity, International in Delhi, India and teaching English to local villagers on her summer vacation just a year ago, Foster became enamored with the customs and traditions of tea drinking with the locals, prompting her to combine her passion for people with her new found love with the world of tea. She returned home to New York, where she resides in Manhattan and began making her own custom blends of loose leaf tea. Subsequent to leaving her union job after settling multiple contracts, Foster vacationed to South Africa for ten days and began planning her entrepreneurial venture.
Having launched on February 23, 2012, Sheena Foster shared the vision of her specialty tea company CuriosiTeas NYC in Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Gran Piatto d’Oro restaurant with a packed venue on her 30th birthday. “With less than ninety days from concept to launch, I couldn’t think of anything better to give myself for my 30th birthday than my own business” says Foster.
Originally conceptualized as a company that would combine tea and tourism in Manhattan’s village of Harlem, Sheena’s vision for the company has taken her on a journey of survival of the fittest. “Knowing the statistic that eight of every ten businesses fail within it’s first three years, I was determined to not be a part of the failures, hence I had to go back to the drawing board and re-invent myself” says Sheena. She began to focus more on creating tea experience than blending tea. With April being National Stress Awareness Month, Foster took her tea company on the road where she performed the traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony in full garb at yoga studios, public schools and anyplace that would accept her. “I love teaching people about tea history, culture and customs. I especially love teaching about the potential health benefits of teas and herbal blends particularly to minorities’ communities where there is a high rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes” Sheena emphasizes. She believes that if young people will drink more tea, then they’ll drink less sodas and carbonated drinks with high fructose corn syrup if they understand the health benefits. Sheena subsequently learned tea ceremonies form around the world and have clients that range from the New York Dept of Education, the NY Public Library and institutional clients. She is now preparing for the launch of her nonprofit late Fall, the Urban Tea Academy, where she will deliver a wide range of cultural tea programs into urban communities.
Sheena credits her passion for embracing cultures to her experience as an undergrad at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, which afforded her opportunities to intern with the National Park Service in Alaska, Washington D.C. and Virginia nearly ten years ago. An alumnus of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale, current Council of Urban Professional fellow and incoming Coro Leadership New York 24 Fellow, Sheena Foster credits the transferable skills from her these institutions that have helped to shape her into a global leader and social entrepreneur.
JET magazine, which was founded in November 1951 is the No. 1 African-American newsweekly and has more than 7 million readers. Its properties, JET magazine and JETmag.com, continue the legacy of serving authoritative, credible and entertaining information to the Black community. The publication has been a staple in the homes and businesses of Black Americans since 1951, bringing life to its popular catchphrase: