Tiffany Malapanes (left) and Michael Rowland enjoy some tea Jan. 4, 2012, while taking a break from remodeling their new teashop, which will feature the Positiffitea tea line, located in Murfreesboro. (TMP Photo/M. Hudgins)
Ten years ago, Tiffany Malapanes began researching herbal medicine and the health benefits of tea.
Then in 2011, she launched her own line of teas, Positiffitea. At the end of the month, she plans to open her own teashop, complete with loose-leaf teas, blends and tea-ware.
“I really thought (making tea) would be more of a hobby, but it actually turned out to be really successful, which is great,” Malapanes said.
The idea to open her own storefront came on a whim, Malapanes explained.
She and Michael Rowland were walking around the Square in downtown Murfreesboro and stumbled upon a tiny space next to Odoms Barber Shop. Having seen the young couple peering into the store’s windows, the Odom sisters came outside and offered to rent it to them.
“We said, that could be fun, and we could split it. Most people have a plan. We didn’t have one, but it just kind of came together,” said Rowland, who owns Rowland Solutions, a small-business development company that provides search engine optimization, Internet marketing and website design services.
Their free spirit natures are overshadowed only by their determination and energy to transform their ideas into reality.
Hammers in hand, the pair installed hardwood flooring and constructed a wall to divide the teashop from Rowland Solutions, which will operate from the rear part of the building.
They have salvaged barn wood from a family farm to use as shelves with built-in ladders, so Malapanes could reach them.
Behind the counter, shelves along the back wall will feature loose-leaf teas and herbs ready to be mixed into delicious concoctions.
To the left, an array of specialty teas, mugs, teapots and tea steepers will be available for purchase, along with taw honey harvested by the couple themselves.
Tea lovers and curiosity seekers alike can sample a variety of teas, order tea-by-the-cup and enjoy scones and muffins made by Wild Flours Organic Mill and Bakery, which is also located near downtown Murfreesboro.
Even coffee drinkers won’t be able to stay away.
“I love tea now, and I’ve always been a coffee man,” Rowland said.
Better yet, the couple plans to introduce “bean tea,” a recipe of tea-infused coffee to the shop.
More than just a teashop, Malapanes and Rowland said they want the space to offer a gathering place for the community to call home – a place where tea sparks conversations and spurs ideas.
“My goal with the teashop is not just for people to come to the teashop and rock the teashop, but I want people to come to the Square and see new and veteran shops together,” Malapanes explained. “The teashop is awesome for me, but it’s more for the Murfreesboro community and getting the Square more active.”
Both graduates of Middle Tennessee State University, Malapanes and Rowland said they seek to fuse a relationship between the college scene and the Square.
Tens of thousands of students visit campus each day, and bringing just a portion of those downtown would have such an impact, she emphasized.
In an effort to entice college students to the teashop, she said, they plan to feature a book exchange and community corkboard for events and various postings.
“Also unique to the store will be a community vision board with dreams we have for the community or missions,” she said. Customers will see it, think about it, and then make it a reality, Malapanes added.
Her first aim at involving the community is currently underway, as Malapanes invites everyone to help name the teashop. Search for Positiffitea on Facebook or visit www.positiffitea.com to offer suggestions. Residents have until Saturday to post their ideas.
“I want to bring them into the decision making,” Malapanes said, “so it will make them feel like this is their teashop because they took a part in its development.”