Distributing Bottles of Dreams from DetroitBy Yvelette Stines on April 9th, 2015 /
There is age old advice that encourages dreamers to have a plan B incase your dream doesn’t work out. For Nailah Ellis CEO of Ellis Infinity LLC, she didn’t take that advice. She followed her dream and is now creating a successful beverage empire from Detroit.
It all started with her great grandfather’s recipe.
“I asked him for the family recipe but he made it from memory. I played with it for a year, added my twist to it and started to sell it out of my trunk,” she reminisces. Her lifelong dream was to be an entrepreneur. Studying business at Howard University, the debt was piling up and Ellis saw a chance to make her dream happen.
“I didn’t have responsibilities, at the time, and I knew I wanted to own my own business. So I dropped out of school and sold the tea. It has been trial and error but worth it,” she says. From the humble beginnings of selling out of her trunk she is now selling out of Whole Foods Market in Michigan, Chicago, and Indiana, Busch’s, Westborn Market, Better Health, and Meijer is also interested in her tea.
Along with her beverage being sold successfully, Ellis also started her own distribution company in Detroit. This historical mark is located off of 75 and Clay Street. It wasn’t a part of the initial plan but helped the business grow.
“Owning a production company was not in my plan, I was looking (for specific things) when it came to packaging. I took on a partner and he financed the project. I learned about bottling and packaging myself. We now bottle and market for other beverage companies,” she says excitedly.
For Ellis, there is no option but success. “I am just like everyone else, I have fears, but I left school and walked away from security and the path we were all raised on. I don’t have a choice so I can’t lose. I have to be bold and go for it,” she says.
With Ellis Island Tea brewing towards great success, in the process Ellis has found the importance of work life balance.
“Scheduling is very important. We are always busy, but it is (essential) to create time for my husband and daughter,” she says. There was a time when Ellis had to “learn how to make hard stops. I don’t work seven days a week anymore, there are times when I don’t check emails, and don’t go into the plant. I spend time with my family it is about having the desire for it to all work out.”
With a strong understanding of both the rewards and difficulties that entrepreneurs face Ellis encourages mentorship. “I have mentors that just listen to me, I have others that give feedback, and recently Bobbi Brown is my mentor. This happened when I was on the Meredith Vieira Show,” she says. She also wants to mentor other business owners. “I am in the process of starting a summer internship program for youth who want to get into entrepreneurship.”
In the future you can see Ellis Infinity LLC becoming a national brand. As Ellis continues on her journey she is excited, mindful and faithful. “I pray like everything depends on God and work everything depends on you. It is a spiritual walk.”
For more information visit www.ellisislandtea.com.