By Gabriella Gage
WATERTOWN — When it comes to business and brewing tea, budding entrepreneur Niara Keverian stays true to her roots. As vice president of marketing, Keverian is set to launch a new product, ZOOS Greek Iced Tea (pronounced Zeus) in March with her business partner, Kristina Tsipouras. Both Keverian and Tsipouras grew up locally, sharing a deep appreciation for their respective Armenian and Greek heritages.
While Keverian is from Medfield, her “unofficial” home, she says, has always been Watertown, where she grew up heavily involved in the Armenian community and has fond memories of participating in a variety of social and community events.
Keverian attended Armenian Sisters’ Academy in Lexington before moving on to high school and then the University of New Hampshire. She originally studied engineering, but quickly realized her passion lay elsewhere. “My father is an entrepreneur and I grew up surrounded by the spirit of entrepreneurship,” said Keverian. She said her years of performing with the Sayat Nova Dance Company and as its marketing director helped prepare her for the fast-paced and people-oriented realm of business marketing.
While earning her MBA at Babson College, she co-chaired the Babson Entrepreneurship Forum, which brought in more than 80 speakers and 800 attendees. Some of Keverian’s previous experience includes working for five years in a variety of roles for Staples corporate division, an internship with Collective Brands and working as a brand manager for Welch’s juice company.
Keverian was recovering from a car accident when she met future business partner Tsipouras through a Babson connection and was inspired by her idea for marketing Greek tea, which is similar in many ways to the traditional Armenian herbal tea made from wild thyme.
The two women found they shared similar childhood experiences coming of age in culturally-diverse Massachusetts. “Growing up I was involved in several youth groups and had a lot of Greek friends. Both [Kristina] and I shared a similar business acumen and cultural background,” said Keverian.
What makes Greek iced tea different than traditional teas? According to Keverian, it is all natural, real-brewed non-caffeinated tea, containing herbs sourced from the Greek mountains, and produced and bottled in the US. For centuries, families in Greece have trusted this traditional brew for health benefits and as their go-to beverage at home. A first-generation Greek American, Tsipouras spent summers in Greece drinking the tea and finding inspiration in its properties. Both women believe there is nothing like ZOOS currently on the market and that are the first to market Greek iced tea in the US. The success of the Greek yogurt market and the health benefits associated with Greek products are two factors that favor ZOOS, said Keverian. “Iced tea is a growing industry in the US, and ZOOS is a healthy, natural and delicious alternative to many products on the shelf,” said Keverian.
When it formally launches in March, it will be a large-scale endeavor with ZOOS on the shelves of several big-box stores and independent markets as well. The 16 ounce bottles will be available in three flavors: original, peach and lemon. The product will also be make an appearance in “Dumb and Dumber To,” the sequel to the classic comedy film starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, set to hit theaters in November 2014. As businesswomen, Keverian said that she and Tsipouras are excited to make the business their own and avoid corporate pit falls by creating a great product from a fun, stylish marketing campaign.
In terms of the future, Keverian said she is confident in ZOOS entry into a Greek-friendly product market and her enthusiasm for realizing her entrepreneurial dreams run deep. “I’m really excited to share ZOOS and what I’m passionate about with my community,” she said.
For more information on ZOOS or upcoming launch news, visit www.facebook.com/drinkZOOS, www.drinkZOOS.com or contact niari@drinkZOOS.com.