Down To Earth herbal teas went to market just three months ago, but the seeds of the business were planted lifetimes ago. Growing up, Irina Patarkatsi—mother of Jonathan and Laurena Patarkatsi—refused to buy the sugar- and preservative-laden bottled beverages sold in mainstream markets. Instead, she taught her kids how to create their own herbal concoctions. Together they would craft potent and delicious elixirs to fuel their active lifestyles—a habit that Jonathan took with him as an undergrad at NewYork University (where he hooked his classmates, as well). Educating others on the power of healthy living became a hobby for Jonathan, and then a passion, and ultimately a business that allowed siblings and mom to work together to change the world—one recyclable bottle at a time. We were excited to chat with Jonathan about the mission of Down to Earth, and to hear what’s next for the NYC-based tea company.
RT: Who are the people behind Down to Earth?
DTE: The Down To Earth team consists of myself (Founder and CEO), my mom Irina (Chief Marketing Officer), and my sister Laurena, who has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics and is currently studying to become a Naturopathic Doctor (Chief Operating Officer and Nutrition Specialist). My father, Merabi, has also been a huge help, especially in the accounting and distribution aspect of the brand. The brand was also inspired by my great grandmother, Mera, and the prior generations that passed down their healing secrets.
RT: What sets Down to Earth products apart from other herbal teas on the market?
DTE: Down To Earth beverages are incredibly unique. We are on a mission to celebrate Earth’s healing ability in its most natural state. We are the only brand making iced tea from unique super herbs and adaptogens such as chaga and ashwagandha. Our products have no added sugar, and are naturally sweetened with a superfruit called monk fruit. Our products have no additives and no preservatives, and nothing artificial or synthetic in them. While most teas are extremely diluted and contain very few herbs, our beverages have an unparalleled concentration of herbs in each bottle, which is evident by the color, taste, and aroma of our products. Also, all our products are bottled in recyclable glass containers, ensuring that we are doing our part to preserve our environment.
RT: What’s your process for concocting new flavors?
DTE: Creating new flavors is an extremely exciting process for the Down To Earth team. All our beverages are based on and inspired by those we’ve been consuming on our own for many years—we’re always looking to creations we’ve already personally benefitted from. We also do tons of research on new herbs, researching which ingredients pair well together, and creating several versions of each flavor so that as many people as possible can sample and give us feedback. Our goal is to have a product range that includes something for every flavor profile.
RT: What’s the latest from Down to Earth? Anything new in the pipeline?
DTE: There is a lot of new development at Down To Earth. We’re expanding into more stores and cities every week, and are strategizing our launch into several new states within the next few months. We’re currently in the development stage of our new turmeric flavor which is scheduled for launch in September, along with several new flavors that we plan to launch throughout the year. We’re working hard to make our products as accessible as possible nationwide.
RT: How would you describe the role herbal teas can play for those pursuing a clean, healthy lifestyle?
DTE: Herbal teas can play a life-changing role. For starters, staying hydrated is very important. While plain water is great, it isn’t enough. Our herbal teas are functional, and can do more for the body than simply quench thirst. Some of our ingredients, such as chaga and ashwagandha (both classified as adaptogens), have been shown to potentially change the way that one’s body reacts to stressors if consumed consistently. Chaga is one of the strongest antioxidants in the world, and has been shown to boost energy without any caffeine. Lavender, chamomile, and ashwagandha, all included in our Tranquility beverage, have been shown to aid in anxiety relief, and promote rest and relaxation. Personally, herbal teas have allowed me to remain energetic throughout the day without any caffeine, and to unwind in the evening without any synthetic sleep inducers.
RT: When you’re not sipping on your healthy teas… what are you loving to eat right now? What are your go to’s?
DTE: Tons of greens. I start my mornings with a green juice and a green smoothie. I also enjoy snacking on chlorella throughout the day. Growing up an athlete, I’ve always been a huge fan of pasta, and am loving all the healthy new pasta alternatives out there, especially those made from brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat.
RT: What’s your favorite occasion to enjoy Down to Earth tea?
DTE: I have a favorite tea for every part of my day. I start my mornings with a bottle of our Longevity DTE, which gives me a nice natural energy boost without any caffeine. I’ve never liked the way that I felt from coffee, so having an antioxidant-rich alternative is great. I work out in the mornings, and always have a bottle of our Energy DTE during my workout to stay hydrated. The zesty mint flavor keeps me energized and focused as I prepare to push my body to new limits. I drink our Revival DTE all day long, which is extremely hydrating and has anti-inflammatory ginger which keeps me fueled throughout the day. After a long day of work, there’s nothing I look forward to more than unwinding and drinking our Tranquility DTE. I’ve been following this routine since long before our beverages were bottled and offered to the public. I remember carrying around four reusable canisters to class and work every day filled with my homemade beverages. It’s been awesome seeing our customers incorporate our beverages into their own routines—seeing them achieve optimal levels of wellness and happiness has been very exciting!
RT: What’s one fun thing most people don’t know about Down to Earth?
DTE: Without intending to, we launched in the marketplace on my sister Laurena’s birthday, April 11, 2018.
RT: What are the pros and cons of running a family business?
DTE: Trust is an integral part of any successful relationship and business, and there is no one that I trust more than my family. Being able to work with people that have such clean and pure intentions for one another is a dream come true. I’m very blessed to have the support of my family, and to have parents who have always encouraged my sister and I to pursue our dreams.
One main con of running a family business is that business tends to become the core discussion of family outings and dinners, even when you’re trying to relax! In our case, however, we’re all so passionate about our mission and enjoy our business discussions tremendously. Building Down To Earth has brought us even closer together as a family, and we’re excited to experience the journey ahead as a team.
RT: So many in this community dream of starting their own business. What’s your best piece of advice for launching a successful local biz?
DTE: Starting a business is an extremely exciting and empowering experience. I always say that if there is something that you want to see in the world that isn’t out there CREATE IT. My biggest piece of advice for launching a successful business is to simply get started. Many people have such great business ideas but convince themselves that they aren’t practical, and that they will pursue them one day when they are fully “ready.” I’ve learned that no one is ever fully ready, and that the most successful businesses and brands were started by individuals who simply decided to go for it. Don’t underestimate yourself, we are incredibly adaptable creatures and learn a lot along the way.
It’s also important to remember to listen to your own intuition over outside opinions. There are plenty of naysayers that will convince you that your idea is not feasible and that the space you are trying to enter is “over-saturated,” but you can’t allow outside influences to sway you from your dreams. Plenty of people warned me that the beverage industry is challenging and competitive. However, I chose to listen to my intuition and to pursue what I hoped to see in the marketplace. A year later, we have already impacted many lives in a positive way. Anything is possible if you’re willing to work hard and to believe.
Down to Earth teas are sold at Rising Tide Market in the following flavors: Energy, Longevity, Revival and Tranquility.