Lisa Kunizaki Choliy is carrying forward a centuries old Japanese tradition of gift giving with gourmet, handcrafted sugars and loose leaf teas. Her beautiful sugars add elegance to any cup of tea or coffee, and her organic, hand-blended teas all have personal stories, inspired by the places she loves. You'll find a sample of our favorite, the refreshing and detoxifying Abbot Kinney tea blend, in the January Parcel and in various gift sets.
Location: Newport Beach and NYC (living bi-coastal at the moment)
Tell us a bit about what you do.
I spread love in the world with sugar and tea. I strive to elevate the imbibing experience by selling handcrafted sugars and hand blending my own teas.
What inspired you to get started?
Who doesn't love sugar and tea?! Also, a little inspiration from my grandma never hurt.
My grandparents lived in a small city called Omuta in Fukuoka prefecture which is in Kyushu, the Southern part of Japan. It was "very country" with few fancy cafes or restaurants, so we always took entertaining to a new level at home. One of our secret ingredients for social gatherings would be these lovely jewels of sugar.
How would you define your brand’s aesthetic/philosophy?
We strive to elevate the prosaic to the gourmet, adding a touch of elegance to any occasion. We are the ultimate affordable luxury.
What's inspiring you right now?
I road trip a lot in search of inspiration. Traveling always opens my mind and heart to the impossible and unthinkable. I'm all about putting myself out there and letting the universe have its way with me.
What do you love most about your work?
All the people I get to meet through work and travel.
Do you have a product or project you’re most proud of?
All of my collaborations with Free People. They're a great bunch of people, and I've been a fan of the brand since high school. That's a long time.
What are you listening to/watching right now?
I rotate my playlist depending on my mood. Monday through Wednesday is usually MIA, Wutang, Lily Allen, FooFighters & TMBG. Thursday-Fri is reserved for Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Nicks, Guster, Sat-Sun is for the Pretenders, Cat Power, Beth Orton, Heather Nova, Lady Gaga, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beatles.
"The secret of getting ahead is getting started." ~Mark Twain
"For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love." ~Carl Sagan
Any guilty pleasures?
Karaoke, donuts, anything deep fried (especially french fries), Harry Potter books (and movies), rare tea, excellent coffee, good raw cheese, sleeping in, highlighting passages in books, watching movies I wouldn't admit to having watched in public and singing in the car (loudly).
What’s your definition of an amazing gift?
Anything that comes from the heart ... or a gift that reminds one of an inside joke. Those are the best!