Karina Castillo is the founder of Los Angeles-based Bawsy Blends. The Latina-founded tea company is a purveyor of premium Japanese matcha sourced from organic single-estate tea farms and a curator of tea and botanical blends. Learn about Karina Castillo…
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
First job: I started my first job at the age of 14 as a cashier at a local fast food dinner.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: 1. Exploring new restaurants. Los Angeles is a very diverse place and has so many good eats to choose from! 2. Trying out new workout classes (HIIT, yoga, weight training). Pilates is my new favorite!
Your biggest accomplishment and why: I like to include both my big and little wins as my accomplishments. A recent little win was landing our first café order shortly after launching our matcha in October of 2022. This was so rewarding because prior to this, all our sales were through our online website and retail partners. The partnership with the cafe allowed us to identify new opportunities and tap into a new sales distribution channel that we hope to grow.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: As a bootstrapped and fairly young company, it was very challenging for us to build direct-trade relationships with Japanese farmers. Many direct-trade farmers work with companies that are much larger, more established, and purchase in larger volumes. We were fortunate to find farmers that were willing to work with us at smaller initial orders and open to growing together.
Someone who inspires you and why: That’s a hard one because I can’t really say there is only one person. I am inspired by people who make something out of nothing. People who are visionaries and work hard every day to keep their dream alive regardless of the roadblocks thrown their way.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Do things from the heart and with passion. This will be what keeps you going. When it comes to running a business, there will be so many things you need to learn and are new to you. Mistakes are inevitable and part of the journey. Trust the process.
Favorite quote: “Dreams don’t work unless you do!”
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I actually graduated with a BS degree in Finance in 2015 and hold a CPA license. If you told me then that I was going to start my own tea company someday, I would have never believed it. It is a beautiful thing to see where life takes you based on the interests that you develop.
What makes someone fabulous: Someone who knows how to execute. For example, you have an idea and you follow through with it; you are working on a deal and are able to close it; you identify issues and resolve them, etc. A lot of time and effort goes into execution. People who are able to execute are fabulous!