The Valhalla Tea Co. is a big-hearted tea brand that started in 2021 in Vancouver, WA. Co-Founder Chris Baldwin and his business partner started the brand to bring awareness and raise support for U.S. veterans struggling with mental health issues.
As Baldwin explains it, after serving in Afghanistan and serving as an enlisted member of the U.S. Army for ten years, he experienced a difficult adjustment to life after the military. He found himself depressed and turning to alcohol for relief. “After a minor health scare, my doctor told me I needed to really start living a healthier lifestyle and give up the alcohol. I started reading and researching how to adopt a healthier lifestyle and found there are a ton of health benefits from drinking tea,” said Baldwin.
With a newfound passion for tea, and possession of a natural entrepreneurial spirit, Baldwin charged full steam ahead, launching the Valhalla Tea Co. in early 2021.
“I decided to take everything I love and smash it all together and see what happens. I love tea, veterans, comic books, mythology…. this became the birth of the Valhalla Tea Company,” he said.
From the start, a high-impact design has been an important part of the brand, as evidenced by the detailed mythical, hero-inspired artwork. Baldwin and two other artists drew the designs.
Each tea features a different “champion” or hero, and the drawings seem to come to life on the tea pouch packaging.
But before the bags became what they are today, there were a few growing pains.
Building a Brand
At initial launch, Baldwin began packaging the teas in black stock mylar bags, but knew that the branding and graphics needed to be better to really stand out and succeed in the market.
“I didn’t look at it and think it was cool. I wanted something bolder. ePac gave us the ability to leverage our artwork in a way that was bold. The colors pop on the packaging as they would on the screen,” said Baldwin.Before finding ePac though, Baldwin was working with a broker who wasn’t delivering the customer service, quality packaging, or prices that he needed to succeed. Eventually the broker put Baldwin in touch with ePac so he could work directly with the digital printer.
Working with ePac
After that, things got easier.
“ePac was wonderful to work with from the beginning. We were already upset about how the packaging process was going, but my ePac contact was on point with everything and kept the work on track. We didn’t have experience with any type of printing or packaging, so we were really unsure. [Our sales rep] made us feel comfortable with what to expect and what the process involved with the design team,” said Baldwin.
Finding ePac as a supplier put the tea brand in a better position: not only were they working with a local supplier, but they were able to leverage digital printing. Valhalla Tea could print packages for multiple SKUs in the same run. Plus, the print quality was what the brand needed to bring the intricate artwork to life.
The tea packaging is getting a lot of positive feedback.
“Online, the packaging sells it. I don’t think we’d be nearly as successful if we didn’t have this packaging,” said Baldwin.
Today the Valhalla Tea Co. has 10 SKUs and sells online direct to consumers, as well as wholesale in Wisconsin, Washington, and Colorado. The team utilizes PCR (post-consumer recycled) film for the resealable stand-up pouches, which helps to lessen the brand’s carbon footprint without sacrificing aesthetics.
“There is a solid story behind the brand. People want to buy all 10 of our flavors just because of the packaging. Digital printing elevated our packaging to collector’s item status,” said Baldwin.
What’s behind these great designs? As Baldwin describes it, they are a celebration of cultural diversity.
“We thought a lot about our champions. The real underlying theme & goal is to try to combat the stigma against anxiety, depression, and PTSD with veterans in mind. A lot of people don’t like talking about that stuff. Our tea is a way to make it okay for people to live a healthy warrior mindset, since tea has a lot of health and therapeutic benefits,” said Baldwin.
For each bag of tea that is sold, one dollar goes to charities that help veterans live a better life. The company continues to work toward evolving the brand with plans to create a sample pack, seasonal flavors, and even a subscription box. Are you looking to make a difference with sustainable packaging, high-impact graphics and a great story? ePac can help you execute your goals and grow your brand, wherever you are in the process.