Lei Nichols, Wise Mouth, Warren, RI
A Healthy Alternative
|Pictured from left to right: Alicia Nichols; Lei Nichols; and Leanna Nichols
Lei Nichols was teaching Chinese at a private high school when she noticed that the only beverages available to the students were sugary sodas and iced teas made with artificial ingredients. “I wanted to do something to solve this issue and provide healthier drinks for the kids, and help influence others to make healthy dietary choices in their lives.”
Drawing from lessons learned in the remote Chinese village of Shanzui from her grandmother and other family members about the art of Chinese tea, Lei created recipes for the three original Wise Mouth flavors and set out to make her dream a reality.
“Often people think that drinks are only meant to quench thirst or taste good, but to me it’s just as important that they help nurture the body and mind as well.” With this philosophy in mind Lei set forth to create a drink inspired by ancient Chinese medicine, and made with only real ingredients, including plants with traditional medicinal value.
“It was hard to venture into this business,” shared Lei. “I was a full time high school teacher, a single mom with two teenage daughters, who had no experience in the beverage industry.” She worked with a SCORE consultant who set up a meeting at the Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE). “He recommended their programs to me and upon attending them I was glad to have found support as a woman in business. They helped teach me finances and learn the process to get a loan.”
Lei began brewing the three original flavors of tea at Hope & Main, a shared incubator for early-stage food companies located in Warren, RI. Today Wise Mouth offers seven different kinds of all natural tea, each with its own unique health benefits and a wide range of delicious flavors. "I would like to use this opportunity to also thank the Common Wealth Kitchen in Boston and Cornell University Food Science Lab, with out them I couldn't make my business what it is today," shared Lei.
"Since this business started I have been living the American dream every day. Hope & Main gave me the resources to start building my dream, the Center for Women & Enterprise, SBDC, SEED, and SCORE have guided me and aided me to help my business grow and flourish
When asked what she would say to others who want to start or grow their business, Lei shared, “If you have something that is good for this world just do it and don’t be afraid of making mistakes because what you learn from your mistakes will make you stronger and smarter.”