Detroit business Ellis Island Tea goes national

Posted at 7:18 PM, May 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-27 19:18:25-04

Talk about a sweet surprise! 

A Detroit entrepreneur who started making Jamaican Sweet Tea in her mom's basement years ago has now gone national.

"It's still unreal, I'm in a daze," said Nailah Ellis-Brown. "I just can't believe this is happening.

In 2008, Ellis-Brown started selling Ellis Island Tea from the trunk of her car. She says the special recipe is close to her heart; it's passed on from her great-grandfather, a Jamaican immigrant who came from Ellis Island in the early 1900s.

Over the years, she opened a production facility in Detroit as her business grew and landed her sweet tea in Whole Foods, Meijer, Kroger and Sam's Club.

Sales did so well that Sam's Club gave her a shot at putting Ellis Island Tea in all of its nearly 600 locations across the country.

"This is a huge opportunity," she said. "This is our big break."

She's currently rotating 20 production workers at her facility, and if things go as she hopes, her goal of creating more jobs for Detroit will be at a whole new level.

"If we stay national, it will be a lot more than 20 jobs we're providing," she said.