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EcoTeas has its roots in friendship and hope. They began with the intention to work together to help improve the world. Initially, Stefan Schachter (pictured left in the center) had the idea to start an organic yerba mate company. He learned about the tea in high school when he went on a work-relief project to Paraguay.
He started the business in partnership with his childhood friend, Brendan Girard (in the red shirt at right). They ran the business out of their living room in a small house in Ashlands railroad district. They blended herbs in their kitchen and created labels for their packages on a dusty inkjet printer. They served tea at farmers markets, festivals, and local grocery stores. Friends stopped by to drink mate and play a game of chess. EcoTeas earned a reputation for providing consciously-grown, great-tasting tea at excellent prices.
As the company grew, they invited college friend Joe Chermesino to join the team. He left his job teaching high school English in Washington State. He slept in the backyard garden that first summer with his camping mattress and sleeping bag. There was not much money to go around, but the three friends had a lot of fun in the nearby mountains. They had community, purpose, great food, and plenty of time to follow their creative pursuits.
The next leap forward came when Stefan flew down to Argentina and met up with the Kraus family of organic yerba mate farmers. It was the best yerba mate he had ever tasted. He got along well with the hospitable family. The connection grew solid when Milton Kraus proposed a partnership with EcoTeas to help supply North America with his one-of-a-kind yerba.
Pretty soon they found their selves with more business than they could handle. It was a blessing and a challenge in one. They decided to take the opportunity to diversify their employee base. Their first priority was to hire a capable woman who could contribute her unique energy to their many daily tasks and decisions. Kelly has been a great addition.