Smita Satiani has worked on climate change and internet connectivity projects at X, Alphabet’s moonshot factory, for the last three years. She also serves as an adjunct professor in Sustainability and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Previously, she served as deputy director for the White House’s Presidential Innovation Fellows, a program started by President Obama focused on social impact, design, and technology. Before that, she spent nearly 4 years at Ashoka building an accelerator program for social entrepreneurs in the U.S., Europe and Africa. Her work has been featured at the MIT Media Lab, the New York Tech MeetUp, and in Forbes.com, TechCrunch, and The Wall Street Journal. She has studied criminology, secret intelligence, and women’s studies at UC Irvine and the University of Southern California.
Esha Chhabra is a journalist who covers sustainability, development, women’s issues, and mission-driven brands. She contributes to a number of international and national publications such as The Guardian, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Fast Company, Forbes, and more. She has been awarded four grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting as well as two reporting fellowships from the UN Foundation. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and a Rotary Scholar from The London School of Economics.
What inspired you all to create this company?
Alaya Tea is a women-owned organic loose-leaf tea company based out of Los Angeles, California, which sources small-batch teas directly from people and planet-friendly farms in India. Picked fresh and sent in small batches, our teas celebrate simple and pure ingredients and free of the typically-added flavorings, fragrances, and preservatives.
Our founders Esha Chhabra and Smita Satiani are two Indian-American women with over 10 years in the social impact, sustainability, and climate change spaces. They also grew up in households where drinking chai was a daily ritual. They started Alaya with the mission to celebrate the women that are the backbone of the tea agriculture industry in India, and elevate tea-drinking culture in the United States.
What distinguishes your company and product in the market?
We traveled to the far corners of India to find farms that not only produced the most exquisite teas, but are elevating the culture of tea making. Alaya sources from organic and biodynamic farms where tea pickers and workers are treated kindly – offering infant nutrition programs for their workers, free childhood education, and pension programs. Picked fresh and sent in small batches, our teas celebrate simple and pure ingredients and free of the typically added flavorings, fragrances, and preservatives.
We also work with farms that are growing tea in ways that help retain healthy soil, helping to keep carbon emissions from releasing into the air through activities such as: planting trees to protect from landslides and runoff; eliminating the use of chemicals; using mulch and covering the soil, and just leaving areas for forestry.