FOUNDER FEATURE: Arielle Clark, Owner Sis Got Tea

By Taryn Skees for Amplify — May 14, 2021

Arielle Clark — she, her, hers — is a native of Louisville, KY. Born and raised in the Derby City, Arielle longed for a sober, safe space for LGBTQ+ people as she went through the growing pains of being a black, queer woman through adolescence and beyond.

Continuously searching for a space to be surrounded by black, queer, sober people, after quitting a job, she said, “I’ll make one myself.”

When she’s not working on Sis Got Tea things, Arielle is sitting at home watching Youtube videos and loving on her cat, Alfonso. She’s also testing, tasting, and smelling different teas for the cafe. So far, her favorite tea Sis Got Tea serves is White Passion.

Read more about Arielle’s entrepreneurial journey in our Q&A.

Q: How has failure impacted your career and gotten you to the point where you are today?

A: Failure has caused me to be on the path with Sis Got Tea that I am now. When I first started Sis Got Tea, I failed to get enough funding to open a physical location within the timeline I set. I failed to open a physical location within the first year of business. However, these failures resulted in me pivoting directions and creating a strong online presence with Sis Got Tea that resulted in national and international attention. Now, Sis Got Tea is successful beyond my wildest dreams. And we’re close to opening a brick-and-mortar than ever before.

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always have an entrepreneurial spirit?

A: I went through so many “careers” as I grew! I wanted to be a teacher, a doctor, a veterinarian, a farm-owner, an accountant, an actuarial scientist, a director in Student Affairs, a property manager…the list goes on. I’ve had unique ideas since I was a child, but I never truly considered starting my own business until college.

Q: Describe one of the most memorable projects you have worked on thus far.

A: There have been quite a few. However, one that stands out to me is creating a custom tea blend for the Mahogany Project, a collective of black queer men that serve to tell the stories of other black queer men covering an array of different societal issues, with a particular focus on building community in central Texas. They reached out to me and asked me to create a tea blend for them for Black Trans Empowerment Week. I’m still so honored and humbled that they asked me to take on such an intimate, empowering project. That project will live in my memories forever.

Q: What resources have been the most beneficial to you in your entrepreneurial journey?

A: Community; no questions asked. The community has been the most influential and motivating part of my journey. From monetary support, to meeting new people via networking, to having folks reach out and express how excited and grateful they are that a space like Sis Got Tea is slowly coming to existence, community has the most beneficial, hands down.

Q: What are your pronouns? Why are they important?

A: My pronouns are she, her, hers. Pronouns are important because as a cis woman, I carry a lot of privilege. To support non-cis folks, it’s important to normalize the open usage and correction of pronouns as cis folks. It is not the responsibility of the marginalized community to educate and correct non-marginalized folks. Non-cis folks already carry the emotional labor of existing in a world where they are marginalized; to ask them to also carry the labor of pronoun usage and correction is systemic violence and othering.

Q: What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity?

A: There are others like you, who are on the same journey, who share your identity. You are not alone. Your identity will grow and change with you. You are loved, and wanted, and wonderfully made.

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