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Small Business Digest


Two Small Companies Create Complementary Products To Build Sales For Both

In today’s competitive business marketplace, companies must find new ways to attract customers and to sell their products.

Two women-owned companies have worked to create a series of products that complement each firm’s marketing efforts.

They have even gone to the point of naming their products similarly to further enhance the cooperative marketing program.

While remaining independent, the two companies share data, marketing efforts and even booth space at trade shows. They established a partnership in order to build on the individual strengths of each company and the way that their products work together to meet the needs of consumers.

Introduced by the sister of one who was a client of the other, the two owners have created complementary grouping of specially formulated teas and soothing aromatherapy candles and soap.

SerendipiTea ( was founded in 1995 by Tomislav Podreka and Linda Villano and now serves a diverse audience of restaurants, tea rooms, groceries and specialty shops.  It is known for the unique flavors and names for its tea products and now provides tea to an ever-growing number of prestigious international clients.

Healing Hunny ( was founded by Cathleen Cuneo and came out of her work as a massage therapist.  The company now offers over 50 candles and scents, bath and shower items, salves and balms, as well as products for the face, hands, skin and body.

SerendipiTea started in a fifth floor, walk-up apartment in Manhattan and grew quickly after its start in 1995 and by 1997, they had added a retail line, outgrown the apartment and moved to Southwestern Connecticut for more space.

Three years later, the delivery requirements made a return to New York necessary, and they moved into a storefront/warehouse in Long Island City.

By 2004, that space had been expanded and was soon no longer able to contain the business. SerendipiTea built a new home in Manhasset, LI that now accommodates their administrative and production facilities, and plans for a retail space/showroom are in “the works.”

Now offering more than two hundred products, SerendipiTea, 60% of the business remains bulk sales, with the remainder evenly divided between retail and direct sales via their website.

Despite the convenience and popularity of tea bags, SerendipiTea believes that the small effort of brewing loose tea produces an immeasurably better experience and provides a moment of focus often lacking in a day.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences, Cuneo became an aromatherapist to offer additional services to her massage clients.  She began making soaps and bath soaks in her home kitchen to give to clients. 

After so many clients kept asking for new additions, Cuneo’s sister joined her team and the two opened a full-scale business offering Healing Hunny creations for sale.   

Besides the products, Healing Hunny and its team of licensed massage therapists provide personal treatments to a diverse, growing client base, ranging from the weary homemakers to pampered guests at luxury hotels.

Villano’s sister had been a long-time client of Cuneo’s and over the years kept telling her that, “you need to meet my sister.”   After meeting, the two discovered that they had similar companies in terms of blends in candles and teas and even in labeling and packaging of products.

They decided to establish a partnership where Cuneo would create candles and soaps in scents that matched the teas offered by Villano.  The products would go hand-in-hand with each other and offer a new complimentary option to customers.

There first testing of the waters was at this summer’s Fancy Food Show in New York where the concept was promoted and the two companies shared a booth. According to the two presidents, the concept found good response from distributors and manufacturers.

Among their joint product offerings is the Fiji Candle and Tea that combines green tea, pineapple and papaya, and three soaps that have been created including Earl Grey with a touch of milk, organic green tea & honey and Zzz - chamomile and lavender flowers in shea butter, will be sold exclusively through SerendipiTea.

The products will be sold on SerendipiTea’s website and their new retail store opening in September.  They will also be offered to wholesale customers and at conventions and shows.  Villano also shared their plans for a future tea lifestyle line, which will expand to include bath soaks, face and body mists, and salts in scents that match the teas currently offered.

This type of business partnership is an example of the creative ways in which small business owners must think about their products and how they can offer additional products to their existing customers, as well as attracting new customers to their company.

These two women are in the forefront of what will be a growing concept in small business proprietorship, companies with complementary products but separate ownership.

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