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Experience Host Spotlight: Gabriel from Create Your Chai

How to transform your passion for tea into a business


In the first wave of the pandemic, lots of businesses unfortunately had to close their doors almost overnight. Nine months in, we are now in a new cycle where entrepreneurs are thinking ahead to reinvent the way they do business. According to PayPal Canada, “64 per cent of small business owners say the pandemic has motivated them to consider new ways to grow their business”. At Cholla, we’re all about helping small entrepreneurs and local businesses do just that. We provide them with a platform to reach a new audience in a different - but just as fun- way.

For this series, we interviewed 4 of our Experience Hosts to see how they approached pivoting to an online offering, how Cholla has helped them gain a new clientele and what’s in their crystal bowl for the next months.

For this second article, we interviewed Gabriel Svaldi from Create Your Chai, for whom adaptation and flexibility have been paramount in the last few years.

Can you tell us about Create Your Chai?

“I have been in the tea business for many years now. I started as a tea expert at Camellia Sinensis (a highly respected tea importer here in Montréal). After a few years, I took my first steps in the entrepreneurial world through Bristol Chai Café, a chaï place where I had the chance not only to serve delicious tea, but also to teach students how to make their own chaï recipes. When the café closed, I pivoted to an online store, where my customers can get a personalized chaï recipe on their doorstep. It’s been going well since and adding online classes has really helped.”

What made you choose Cholla as your marketplace of choice?

“3 reasons made me choose Cholla. The first one is shipping. At first, online classes were not a part of my offering because I couldn’t figure out how to ship the materials needed to create a chaï recipe - an integral part of the class - to my students. The Cholla team provided a simple solution: a registration form where participants write their postal address. It makes my life easy and minimizes the chances of receiving an outdated address. The second one is the fact that it’s a local initiative. I’m happy to work with a young local team with a clear goal. The third one is the rapid feedback loop we have been able to implement, which pushes me to always offer a better experience.”

How do online classes fit in your broader business plan?

“Online classes have a great synergy with my business: students learn about what makes a great chaï recipe, which empowers them to create their own and then order it on my online store. It creates a virtuous circle of some sort.”

Do you have a few online funny stories to share?

In my class, 2 things always happen, I could take bets on whether they will be happening. The first one is a milk catastrophe, where boiling milk bursts out of the pot because it gets too hot. The second one is someone spilling tea everywhere after learning how to properly serve it. People get too confident and end up messing their kitchen floor (it happened to the interviewer!).”

Create Your Chai offers a chaï creation experience on the Cholla marketplace and is working towards a second one where he will combine his passion for tea with his knowledge of cocktails. Whether you’re an avid tea drinker or a newbie in this grandiose world, Gabriel will be more than happy to guide you through a wonderful experience.

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