We speak to Christalla Hadjievangelou, Brand Manager at OFFBLAK who lives by the philosophy “healthy mind in a healthy body”.
We discovered OFFBLAK at a a Welltodo event two years ago - their design caught our eye and taste got us hooked. Their unique blends of flavours from ‘Blueberry & Mint’ to ‘Forest Fruits & Ginger’ only give a glimpse into the fun and innovative nature of this awesome brand! The fact that they do this whilst bringing extensive health benefits and remaining environmentally sustainable completely sold us, and we are very proud to stock them on The Healthy Living Store.
What was the inspiration behind OFFBLAK?
It all started when our founder, Dmitry Klochkov, was working long, hard hours, tirelessly and needed a drink that could help keep him feeling fresh and invigorated. He extensively searched with no success in finding a tea brand that tasted good or provided benefits.
Even more interestingly, he noticed that none of the tea brands he had tried seemed to be catering for a younger market, neither by their style or convenience needs nor what they stood for as brands.
That is how he began the journey to make tea cool again - a new generation of tea for a new generation of you; a tea that is both yummy and provides functional benefits, which has great packaging to boot and cares about its environmental impact. Even better? A tea that could seamlessly fit into someone’s lifestyle by being delivered straight through the door whenever they need a refresh. Anything but just plain, black tea. Because, where is the fun in that?
Could you describe your journey to get where you are today?
One thing I can guarantee - any startup environment is crazy in the best way. When we look back to 2 years ago, when I joined OFFBLAK, it was just myself and Dmitry. We were still going over different packaging designs. I remember when I literally brewed 12 cups of tea so I could get my creative flow going to brainstorm the names for the product!
We are now a team of 8 people in the UK with OFFBLAK, available both online and in retail stores nationwide, as well as across 5 other markets in 4 different continents and growing.
At OFFBLAK we go from “do you know what I think would be a super cool idea?” to the new product being live on the site in a matter of a few months, depending on the complexity of course. Working at OFFBLAK is having the luxury to be creative and reactive in a rapid and agile manner with an awesome team that is aligned on the same vision and mission.
2018: Initial Packaging Designs for OFFBLAK
2020: Christmas Gifting Packaging
See the difference!
What differentiates OFFBLAK from other tea brands on the market?
1) OFFBLAK, actually means anything but black tea
We pride ourselves in having award-winning, innovative, quality flavours made with straight up ingredients in pyramid bags with no B.S.
2) OFFBLAK is not just a pretty face
While we are stylish tea that can pretty up any moment of your day, we also have substance - just natural ingredients packed full of flavour! What’s more? We are sustainably sourced tea with fully recyclable packaging, because we want to do good for you and for the environment.
3) OFFBLAK Tea boasts 24 Functionality
Our teas fit into any time of day depending what time of boost you need - think of it kind of like when you power-up in a video game. The options? Our categories:
Fully Charged - Kick start your day,
Glow - get your glow on with antioxidant-rich teas,
Chill Out - kick back and relax,
Caff Free - reset your mind and body any time of any day
I know an impossible question, but what’s your favourite OFFBLAK tea?
This is such a hard question to answer and my answer will always change. Right now, I’m loving Nicely Spicy because it has a sweet and spicy flavour kick while being caffeine free (I’m trying to limit my caffeine intake at the moment) - it is the perfect mental boost during the work day, especially now while we work from home. Even better? The mix of Cranberry & Cinnamon gives it a subtle festive flavour, which is also a great mood-setter for the season!
How do you want people to feel when they try your teas?
As a general, I would say the train of thought should be something along the lines of “innovative, tasty, and trendy tea that does good for you and for the environment”.
However, to be completely honest, each tea should evoke a different more in-depth response - that is why we have our “Feels Like” statements at the back of each tea to help our consumers visualise those moments when they have their tea. So, if you were to ask me, how do you want people to feel when they drink Future Is Pink, Earl Grey & Rose Black Tea, I would say it should feel like the entire experience of “a jog in the park”; that endorphin-rush coupled by a crushed fresh floral, scent exploding through the grass as you run through it, soaking up the cool air - a mental and physical refresh to power you through the day. A bit more than 5 words, eh? What can you do.
Tell us about the future of OFFBLAK. What’s the vision and is there a specific goal that you’re hoping to achieve?
Our vision is to be the most sought after wellness tea brand, by style and substance.
Our mission is to bring innovations to the tea market without compromising on the taste, health benefit, and sustainability.
The Future Is Pink for OFFBLAK of course … there are a lot of exciting developments in the pipeline yet, so you will just have to watch this space (with a brew in hand).
Finally, tell us a bit about yourself and your own health journey..
What does health mean to you?
Health for me genuinely means feeling good inside and out! When I break out a good sweat before work, even if it is tiring, I get more work done and I really enjoy doing it. If my willpower is low at any moment I like to think “how will I feel in an hour/tomorrow if I skip this workout right now?” Usually, the answer is, gross. But sometimes the answer is - great, because I need a rest.
Have you always been interested in health?
It's sort of a cliche, but my Greek-Cypriot family is of the “healthy mind in a healthy body” mindset, so I was raised on a nutritiously dense Mediterranean diet with the odd treat here and there - usually as big family gatherings nonetheless. I’ve always loved to be active - I’ve been part of all the teams: track, swimming, dance and so forth. Also, Cyprus has a gorgeous climate, so every summer when I go home, you will either find me swimming or water skiing - it’s just so fun to be soaking in the sun and running a muck like a child.
I did go through a transition period in my final years at school where I had to shift my mindset - it's that awkward time where you have gone through puberty so maybe your metabolism works a bit differently and you have to focus on your exams so you don’t end up joining as many activities - that is where I had to push myself towards a more disciplined mentality by routinely going to the gym and being more mindful about what I consume to give me healthy gradual energy boosts.
What are your top 3 tips for living a healthy life?
Your Body Will Talk until you Listen
We often think we know what is best - what to eat, how much to exercise etc. when the reality is, our body has a way of talking and responding to these actions. That is not to say you should not set goals and be disciplined but rather, allow your body to communicate to you. You have a migraine? Perhaps there is something you are eating that your body is not happy with, or it could be that you need more sleep, or maybe you just need to have an off day where you focus on relaxing yourself. Allow yourself 24 hours and then get right back to your goals - they aren’t going anywhere and 24 hours isn’t going to ruin everything. Just don’t let 1 day of rest turn into 6 months!
Make It A Habit Or Lose It
I heard this on a podcast once. Our self-discipline and willpower decreases throughout the 24 hours in a day. You must have experienced when you have been eating well all day and are all prepped to go to the gym after work. Then at 6 pm you find yourself munching on some chocolate laying on the couch with no desire to do anything.
The best way to ensure you stick to eating well and working out well, for the simple fact that it makes you feel good and energised, is to create a routine or habit where you have no other choice. Don’t sit on the couch after you clock off if it sends you down the lazy spiral. Make it part of your routine to put on a good song and get changed into gym gear at 6pm everyday, as an example. Do it a few times until it becomes natural! You have to find what works for you! The more you can automate things and keep them as a natural progression to your routine, the more you will stick to it.
Do You, For You, Always - and Do it with a Smile
We seem to put pressures on ourselves like “in a month’s time when I feel better about myself, I’ll sign up for pilates” where we delay things for the future. Creating these future-bound pressured scenarios make you feel stressed about achieving whatever goal it is by that point in the future and makes you feel worse about yourself in that moment. You know what? If you sign up for pilates today and go to a class today, you will feel better about yourself today. This is an important point for people who tend to procrastinate or put their self worth on their mood, how they look or how they feel. Just get up and go do it - there is no point in waiting for something because time is not an element to take for granted! Then, you can turn this into a habit (see above)!
Which brings me to my next point - sometimes people don’t stick with their healthy lifestyle because they simply haven’t created a proper motive. If you feel great after you eat a nutritious meal, then you are doing it to feel great! Never do it with the end-goal being based on how your opinion or someone else’s will change of you ie. don’t motivate yourself with the idea of how great everybody will think you look by the end. This creates an unhealthy relationship between you, your body and your self-worth. Working out, eating well and so on should be done with the sole benefit to improve your goal for yourself and you should enjoy following it (otherwise, how do you expect to keep the routine and achieve your goals?). Life is to be lived the way you like and enjoyed.
Shop OFF BLAK here!