Media Copywriting (General Advertising), 1995 alumna Janice Ishizaka (Young) found inspiration at Humber. Upon graduating and working as a copywriter for three years in Toronto, Janice headed to Japan to teach English.
The scientifically-proven benefits of barley tea include hydrating better than water, providing antioxidants and preventing tooth decay. Studies can be found on their website here.
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“Working long hours and non-stop talking made me very thirsty, especially in the excruciating summer heat and humidity. I noticed my Japanese co-workers were calm, cool and hydrated! They were all drinking cold mugicha, which means barley tea in Japanese. It didn't have any caffeine or sugar and was a delicious thirst-quencher. Fast forward, I got married, had two kids and on trips back to Canada, we all couldn't live without barley tea.”
Stuffing suitcases with teabags before travelling back home from Japan was far from practical. Janice explored where the barley in the tea she loved came from, and some of it was from Canada.
That's when she had an influential flashback to her time at Humber. She recalled a particular guest speaker, a CEO from a Canadian sporting goods company. They discussed how much of the manufacturing of Canadian raw materials was done outside Canada and asked the class to assess why products are imported to Canada that we can easily make ourselves? That triggered her idea to make the first-ever Canadian barley tea in Canada.
Working with her sister Cilla in British Columbia, Janice made her dream venture come true. “It took plenty of research, development and preparation, but we launched mo'mugi organic BC barley tea and our business, The Canadian Barley Tea Company, in 2019.”
The duo has received tremendous recognition for their product, winning two awards at Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur, a local Dragons' Den type of business competition, and being nominated for the Small Business BC Awards for Best Innovation in 2021.
Just two years in, mo'mugi is sold in 40 stores in BC and Alberta and online across Canada and the United States. They’ve been featured by various media and news outlets, like a recent Q&A with Canadian fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazine VITA Daily. They also pitched and got a deal on (the real) Dragons' Den on CBC in 2020.
The education Janice received at Humber has proved to be invaluable. She performs all of the communications activities for the business, which includes a significant amount of copywriting! Check out CanadianBarleyTea.com to learn more about this delicious and healthy everyday drink. You can also find the brand's manga, a Japanese-style comic strip that depicts the company’s journey and includes that pivotal moment at Humber all those years ago!
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