We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Cepeda and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I am from the Caribbean island, Grenada. I was raised by a village. From my mother and father, to aunts and uncles, whose years of wisdom contributes so much guidance to my everyday life. Both my parents and grandparents were men and women of faith. We ate every meal, together, at the table. We spent a lot of time watching movies, as a family. My parents and grandparents held strong family and individual values. Discipline, love, self respect and respect for elders were enforced in our home. I was taught from an early age about having self-confidence. An attorney and Certified Accountant, with his own practice, my father taught me a lot. Using the lessons and wisdom he learned from his own triumphs and hardships, he taught me a lot about life, career also about and relationships. This kind of cultural backdrop shaped my ideals for life and, in more ways than one, it prepared me to live in NYC. I was taught the power of self-love at an early age. Because of my upbringing, I am able to bypass the lonely place, NYC can be. The values I learned in the Caribbean shaped the way I think and how I see myself. I’ve maneuvered many storms and over come many challenges. I can safely say if it wasn’t for my upbringing and all that I’ve mentioned above, I couldn’t be the woman that I am, today.
What should our readers know about your business?
After being exposed to the art of tea, at a very young age, I decided to create the brand, Modestine Teas, as an homage to my grandmother, who bears the same name. She taught me how to recognize the wisdom of tea and how to relate to its consciousness. Being immersed in the tea culture at such a young age allowed me to interact with the tea plant on a spiritual level. I’m most proud of that because it isn’t something I do as a trendy business, rather, it’s part of a relationship and a lifestyle that is deeply intertwined in my DNA. Understanding how to communicate with plants and our connection to Mother Nature has been a focal point on my journey, as a Certified Tea Sommelier. This, I believe sets me apart from others. My knowledge and wisdom comes from the root, meaning, my ancestors. I am excited to continue my business on the foundational principles that were built through spirituality and wellness. Modestine thrives through the belief of community. I believe in the big vision that there is enough magic to go around. There’s always room for others to take up space. This is belief is what I would like the world to know about the brand. The roller-coaster entrepreneurial journey has its ups and downs. Some rides are smooth, sweet and sometimes, even sensual, while others sometimes make you feel defeated. The difficult side of the journey is that it can get financially exhausting and even lonely, at times. Interestingly, the challenges have taught me lessons, some of which I hold very closely to my chest. I don’t see myself as a perfectionist, however, each time I create a new product or I’m working on a project, that is business-related, I find myself waiting on the “perfect moment” or holding back because the product does not seem “perfect enough“. I will say that all of this has worked in my favor, in more ways than one. I treasure the strong foundation that I was raised on. The self confidence that was instilled in me has given me the courage to go on. During hard times, I know where and whom to turn to. I cannot imagine running a business and making it this far, without the values that my Caribbean upbringing has instilled in me. With the bittersweet of running a business comes the in-between. The business has taught me how to be soft and strong, at the same time, and that I should not always take things personally. It’s my baby, how could I not, lol, but I’m learning, and that’s what’s important. I consider myself to be a risk-taker, to a certain degree. It’s caused me to invest all of my own money into the business. I love what I do, in spite of the many challenges that it comes with. Because of the lovely people I’ve met and the strong connections I’ve made, along the way, I would ride this roller coaster, again and again and again. I was a super introvert but this journey has forced me to let go so that I can become. As long as the Most High gives me strength, I will continue to serve in my field and ever graciously give thanks for the treasure that was passed down to me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Funtimes! I’d first take her to one of my favorite restaurants, The Edge for delicious food and a perfect Caribbean rum punch. We’ll then stroll through Central Park to enjoy a beautiful nature walk, then return back uptown to enjoy a night of culture, at the Apollo Theater. Harlem Nights restaurant and bar has a lovely line up of poetry artists . I’ll definitely take her there to enjoy an evening of spoken word. For the perfect chocolate truffles, we’d make a stop to Harlem Chocolate Factory. I’d also take her to Kente Galllery to enjoy a beautiful art show, then we’d stop at Nilu, a Harlem boutique, where you can shop goods and other items, from local artists and creators. The boutique also carries my line of organic teas. On another day, we’ll have brunch at my top Harlem restaurant, Ponty Bistro, stroll down to Schomburg Library and bookstore. Later that evening, we’ll enjoy live music, at The Shrine.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Sure! I’d like to shout out my Trade Mark attorney, Nikki Seisel, for going far beyond the call of duty to protect my business.