What’s someone to do when they move back home to Charleston, only to be furloughed a month later due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Start her own company, of course.
In February 2020, Tara Pate returned to Charleston from San Francisco and started working as marketing and chief of staff for Butcher & Bee. A month later, the world changed, setting Pate on a new path in the city.
With time on her hands and a distaste for store-bought simple syrups, Pate set out on a year-and-a-half-long journey to make her own, USDA-certified simple syrups and last month, launched Daysie.
“The world stopped, I was let go of my job and I started building my at-home coffee bar because I couldn’t come to a place like [Babas on Meeting],” Pate said. And building the at-home coffee bar was relatively easy, according to Pate: Buy an espresso machine from Italy and have Stumptown coffee and oat milk delivered straight to their door. But when it came to simple syrups, there was an issue.
“I ordered the No. 1 brand out there,” she said. “And this giant plastic bottle showed up, full of preservatives and tasted like crap.
I said to myself, ‘Well surely my local coffee shops don’t use this.’
“That’s the beauty of a local coffee shop – they make their own using premium ingredients,” she added. “They’re doing the hack and now that I’m at home, I need to do that hack.”
Now on a mission to make her own delicious, quality simple syrups, she called The Daily and asked for advice. Simple syrups are simple, they told her, but to make it taste good requires high-quality ingredients, like using vanilla beans as opposed to vanilla extract. With that advice, she started making her own syrups at home, but her mind wouldn’t stop working and thinking. “I’ve worked since I was 12 years old — my first job was at a rollerskating rink and I just never stopped.”
All that free time had her feeling restless and driven.
“Because I wasn’t working, I was like, ‘Oh, this hole exists. I might not be the only one,’” said Pate. “So I put on my mask and went to Whole Foods. I thought, ‘If Whole Foods didn’t have what I was looking for, that was going to be the tip of the hat,’” a signal.
According to Pate, the shelves were filled with more complex syrups for cocktails like rosemary, which wasn’t something she wanted in her coffee. And when she asked an employee for simple syrups like vanilla for coffee, they didn’t have any, only sugar substitutes.
That was the sign she was looking for. The concept of Daysie started brewing in Pate’s mind in May 2020.
“Not only do I want to do this, but I want to do it the best and cleanest way possible,” Pate said. “I wanted [Daysie] to be this really approachable, at-home and consumer-friendly brand.”
The first step Pate took on her journey to Daysie was to look at other “unicorns happening right now,” or other consumer-packaged products nationally and locally, like Red Clay Hot Sauce. She spent time researching different companies and its aesthetics, packaging and consumer interactions.
“There are really great consumer-packaged goods companies that are coming through the pandemic as people are re-exploring how to live at home, cook at home or drink coffee at home,” she said. After all that research was done, “It was off to the races of pure chaos,” she said.
It was now down to the nitty-gritty of building a consumer-safe, edible and delicious product. “The hardest part was putting together these breadcrumbs,” Pate said about the process of building the company. Using contacts from her time in San Francisco, “tons of podcasts” like Building Her Empire and Story of a Brand, the power of Google and dedication to building the company, Pate spent the next year and a half fine-tuning flavors, packaging and handling legal work to build Daysie.
Because of the trail of breadcrumbs she had to follow, Pate built Daysie to not only make delicious and organic simple syrups, but to also make it easier for others like her to build a company and succeed.
“One of the things I’ve been very open about is giving people the resources that I used because one of the things I found was other entrepreneurs were really secretive about that,” she said.
“The whole ethos of my company is that I want women entrepreneurs in this business to be able to succeed and to make it easier for them to do that.”
You can purchase Daysie syrups online at enjoydaysie.com.