Chai Wallah uses organic, fair trade ingredients and employs women from the homeless community to help produce and sell chai. The passionate people behind this product are inspiring.
After landing a job in downtown Nashville, Chai Wallah co-founder, Tasha, was exposed to the homeless population. Every day while going to work, Tasha would walk by a homeless man. One day she finally worked up the courage to introduce herself and over time learned his story. This sparked her drive to help the homeless community. Tasha started to shadow people on various outreach missions and began photographing the homeless population. Eventually she started The Contributor, a nonprofit newspaper providing jobs, income, and a creative outlet for the homeless population in Nashville.
Tasha and Mark had always been drawn to the Indian culture. They were excited to learn about a contest through Whole Foods to win a trip to India. In order to enter the contest participants had to write an essay about doing something good for the community. The title of Tasha and Mark’s essay was “Shaking Hands with God,” inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s "Like Shaking Hands with God." In the essay they wrote about how The Contributor had positively impacted the homeless community in Nashville. The heartwarming essay won Tasha and Mark the trip to India.
While in an Indian market place Tasha and Mark noticed members of the lower class selling chai on the sidewalk. After tasting the delicious drink, they fell in love with it. The couple described the chai in India as much spicier than the chai they’d had in America. After returning from their journey, Tasha and Mark were determined to recreate the chai experienced abroad. After researching recipes online and speaking with friends in the Indian community, Tasha and Mark created the perfect chai recipe. The couple valued that chai was a source of income for the lower class in India and felt this could be an opportunity to give back. The social enterprise Chai Wallah was born, employing women who have experienced homelessness in Nashville.
I had the honor of hanging out with Tasha, Mark, and Anita, one of the wonderful chai cooks, while they made and sold their chai. This is a group of loving and passionate people who are determined to create the best product they can. I love that Chai Wallah has a social mission and uses fair trade, organic ingredients. Chai Wallah’s chai is AMAZING. If you are local to Nashville you can find Chai Wallah’s chai at various places around town: Creama, The Cookery, Thistle Stop, and more. See their website for a full list. If you are not local, hopefully Chai Wallah will start selling online soon! You’ve got to give it a try!
Stay posted, I will be sharing Anita’s story soon! She is a strong, inspiring woman who is working for The Contributor and Chai Wallah.