An Interview with Todd Rubin -President and Minister of Evolution of The Republic of Tea (Part 1)
Todd Rubin is President and Minister of Evolution of The Republic of Tea as well as a new member of STI’s Advisory Board. We wanted to introduce him – as well as the rest of the Advisory Board – to our members and to other tea-lovers and learners, so we asked him some questions about his tea path.
STI: Todd – you were named President about a year ago, but before you joined The Republic of Tea you were a practicing architect. That doesn’t sound like a typical career path! How did it all unfold?
Todd: It’s not really as unusual as it sounds! My father, Ron Rubin, acquired The Republic of Tea in 1994 when I was in the 8th grade, so I really grew up in a tea-infused world. By the time I went to college, I was in love with the arts, and decided to study at at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture in Syracuse, New York. In 2004, after successfully practicing in New York City for a few years, I started thinking about the possibility of other career choices and talked to my parents about joining the family business. They were thrilled! In fact, my mother told me that it might have been the happiest day in my father’s life.
STI: So – where did you start? And what was your path to the presidency?
Todd: I started with the customer – or citizen, as we refer to our customers at The Republic of Tea. More specifically, I wanted to understand citizens’ needs. The East Coast Sales Manager position – or, as we call it, the Minister of East Commerce - was open, so I stepped into that position in 2007. In 2011, I went from sales to marketing, and was responsible for the development of many new premium teas that contributed significantly to our growth during the period. I also oversaw the design of our new California-based, ‘feng shui’ headquarters as well as our Illinois-based production and shipping center during that period, so I was able to draw on my architectural experience as well.
STI: That sounds like the best of both worlds for all involved. What do you like best about your work at The Republic of Tea?
Todd: I’m always mindful of how tea really impacts peoples’ lives – I hear that all the time. And my favorite part is developing a new specialty tea that further enriches our citizens’ lives.
STI: What do you think is the most important trend in the specialty tea business today?
Todd: Tea has always been second to coffee in the US, but it’s gaining more and more acceptance, driven by people’s increasing desire for wellness, and their growing awareness that specialty tea can be a great contributor to their own personal goals.
STI: So, how would you describe that emerging American tea culture?
Todd: As uniquely American, in that everyone can create his or her own experience! Many tea consumers are very health conscious – others are grounded in a more traditional approach to tea.