ENGLEWOOD — Since launching his company last year, Chatham native Jordan Buckner has been able to get his products onto the shelves into 11 different Whole Foods.
TeaSquares has been expanding, and the product has been selling really well in the Englewood Whole Foods, the 28-year-old said.
His product is a tea-infused energy snack that contains caffeine from organic tea — with no artificial ingredients or preservatives.
The bite-size snacks are light and offer a small crunch because they are made with puffed millet, almonds and organic pumpkin seeds. They come in three flavors: Madagascan Vanilla Tea, Acai Blueberry Tea and citrus Green Tea Matcha.
Acai Blueberry is one of TeaSquare's flavors. [Provided]
To assist with the expansion, as well as provide job opportunities for those ages 16-22, Buckner launched a Kickstarter Campaign Monday that will run through Nov. 30. The goal is to raise as much as $100,000.
He and his business partner want to pass down their skills and knowledge, Buckner said. Some of the money raised will allow them to sustain a fellowship program that was launched this summer. They worked closely with three Englewood teens for five days a week, teaching them about business, finances and operations.
“We hired and paid them because we wanted them to learn from the inside how business is run and what skills are required,” Buckner said. “We started the fellowship program because we wanted to create a way to directly give back our skills and expertise to young adults.”
He said they want to equip them with skills now so they’ll be better prepared for career-building opportunities in medium or large companies later.
“In our communities there’s this race to minimum wage where everyone is talking about what’s the minimum we can kind of pay people and instead of looking at how we can get students maximum-wage jobs,” Buckner said.
They plan to bring the three-month fellowship back in the spring. He’s also looking for other professionals who want to share their expertise.
The campaign will help TeaSquares expand production for new individual-sized bars too. Individual packages will contain four bite-size squares. Buckner said that the additional funding will go toward designing, printing for the packaging and new equipment.
He currently manufactures his product in Englewood out of the commercial kitchen his family owns for its catering company, San Justin’s Kitchen.
Buckner attended Whitney Young High School and graduated from both the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois, where he obtained his master's degree in business administration.