Interview with Marcella Tupinamba, co-founder of D’Amazonia Functional Teas in The Talented Ladies Club

D’Amazonia is a tight-knit range of functional teas with far-reaching wellness benefits. It’s essentially a mother and daughter owned operation based in Sussex, but with strong ties to Brazil (Rio de Janeiro).

Poliana (mother) started out as a self-employed interior designer having arrived  in the UK eight years ago, whilst her daughter (Marcella) graduated from Sussex University (Masters) before embarking on a career in digital marketing. 

What’s special about D’Amazonia?

We are essentially a mother and daughter enterprise driven by a poignant, better health agenda. My mother was diagnosed with osteoporosis eight years ago, which meant she needed to quickly embrace a healthier, more ‘exercise intense’ lifestyle to strengthen both her core and her bones.

We went to gym together and found ourselves drinking a lot of coffee and Red Bull to boost our energy levels, however such a flawed strategy was self-defeating as halfway through our session we hit the wall, an inevitable consequence of a caffeine crash.

We realised that we needed to embrace a more natural, herbal outlook and so started concocting herbal blends in the kitchen. In no time we noticed that our overall energy levels had risen but without the uncomfortable bloating and downwards energy spikes that were an inevitable  consequence of our old-school, caffeine-fuelled regimes. 

What’s the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?

There is the misperception that there is already a lot of clutter within the premium wellness tea space. We think that such a belief is misleading because whilst all manner of herbal infusions have existed for some while, in many cases core ingredients weren’t best-in-class, whilst the teas themselves were often experimental bolt-ons to mainstream hot beverages portfolios as opposed to a specialist functional tea specialist. 

D’Amazonia is an agile disruptor whose sole focus is premium-leaning functional teas that arrive in planet-friendly, bio-degradable tea bags. Today the inextricable ties between good diets and good health has never been so clearly defined.

What lessons did you learn in lockdown?

Like many other SME brand owners, the initial horror of retail outlets and gyms closing down was balanced by the realisation that we’d earned ourselves some invaluable thinking time which would be pivotal in the creation of our ground-breaking Sleep & Gut Health Teas.

At this moment in time customers seem especially excited by our Sleep Tea probably because in Western Europe the focus for functional foods and drinks revolves primarily around increased vitality and energy, nutritionally well-endowed foods and drinks that enable consumers to eek the most out of every day.

In South America there’s a far greater emphasis on quality down-time as an all-important reset that enables us to make the most of the next day. The simple thinking behind Sleep Tea is a British made tea using only ‘real’ ingredients in biodegradable tea bags that supports a new chapter regarding what constitutes good health.

What’s your proudest moment so far?

This will be a coin toss between our New brand identity (pouches, website) which has received an overwhelmingly positive response, our NEW Daylesford listing which is a glowing endorsement of our ‘real ingredient’ values and our ongoing support for the One Tree Planted charity that gives back to the Amazonian basin.

Who is your ideal customer?

When you consider that in the UK alone 100m cups of tea are drunk each and every year you can start to appreciate the potential that lies ahead and our reluctance to be too prescriptive regarding the exact make-up of a D’Amazonia loyalist.

We certainly live in better-informed times where avant-garde, health-conscious types are more inquisitive than ever. We believe that a typical D’Amazonia consumer will have a good grasp of the latest food and drink movements, have a pre-disposition to good health and live a buzzy, hectic lifestyle.

What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs?

As a young start-up it’s never easy to get your foot in the front door. We realised very ‘early doors’ that like-minded collaborations between kindred spirit brands is a great way to broaden your sphere of influence and appear bigger than you are. Thus far we’ve enjoyed some very upbeat alliances with Sweatcoin, Busby, Bits and Oberits and about to launch a joined-up initiative with 

Which brand do you admire, and why?

It’s a tad controversial but I’m going to say Tenzing. I love the branding, the unapologetic, single-mindedness of its plant-based mission (to re-energise) via the trusted recipes of Sherpa Tenzing which combines a triple hit of natural caffeine, vitamin C and electrolytes.

What’s next for D’Amazonia?

Functional tea has so much untapped potential and stretch that the possibilities are limitless. We have ambitions to explore further functional needs and life stage occasions such as skin care, pregnancy and possibly menopause. We are also burning the midnight oil to create a truly stylish gift box because a sense of occasion and thoroughly deserved decadence sit at the heart of our brand values.