Topiarius, Argo Tea & Mojuba- Countdown to Eden!

July 14, 2010

With only one day left until An Evening in Eden we wanted to share with you a few more of our great vendors: Topiarius, Argo Tea and Mojuba. Each of these companies has taken a necessary product and transformed it into something amazing that we are so excited to have on display tomorrow! Read on to learn more about what each of these companies has to offer as well as some secrets and tips they’ve chosen to share!

First up we have Topiarius. Sara Jenkins-Sutton (co-owner along with her husband Craig) and Kim Edstrom Schiller (head designer) specialize in urban gardening and floral design. However, in 2003 Topiarius only focused on landscape design and installation needs of urban dwellers. In 2007, Sara became inspired to bring their work outside, in! Sara saw this as a natural progression for their services and thus began their work in floral design!

Have you ever come across a flower that was so beautiful you stopped and picked it out of a private planter?

Sara- Actually, no. Although I’ve taken plenty of pictures (cameras on cell phones are awesome). The fun is seeing flowers in their environment or in the overall design of the planter. Having planted many a planter with annual flowers I know how disappointing it can be when parts of it get picked or taken. So look, no touch!

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Kim- Yes, when I was 7 years old I picked about 10 daffodils out of a container in the front of a 4-flat apartment building.  A man came out and yelled at me.  I tried to give them back and he told me to just take them and go.  I cried all the way home.


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What is the most important element of your work to you?

Sara- It’s a combination of both our customers and designing. We can’t do one without the other. It’s so invigorating to dream up a new design and it’s very satisfying to have a customer who falls in love with it.

Kim- Design.  I love to design flowers and décor for each event, particular to each event.  It is such a rush to get creative!

A big thank you to Kim & Sara for sharing the importance of their work as well as some fun facts!

Next up we have Argo Tea, specializing in unique and delicious signature beverages and teas. Argo Tea prides themselves on bringing teas directly from growers around the world and blending them to make these tasty drinks! Rita Zakusilo explains the “Argo Experience” which is the innovative approach to rediscovering the diversity and tradition of teas.

What makes Argo Tea different from other sellers?

We offer a unique selection of all-natural, tasty and healthy tea-based Signature Drinks that are free of artificial colors, flavors and other additives. We blend high quality loose leaf teas with fruits, juices, flowers, milk and other natural ingredients to create irresistible beverages. Some of our most popular Signature Drinks include Mojitea®, a sparkling blend of mint tea and lime juice and Red Velvet, a smooth and creamy combination of South African Rooibos tea, raspberry and white chocolate.

Our Café SpecialTeas line of gourmet food including Tea Bites, Teanie Panini and Teapot Grains have unique tea-infused ingredients, like Earl Grey tea-poached chicken breast or green tea poached wild Alaskan salmon; we also offer heart-healthy whole grain quinoa cooked in our own mate tea and topped with organic baby spinach and our own tea-infused dressings.

We also have a robust SustainabiliTea program, in which Argo Tea commits to earth-friendly business practices in our cafes as well as in how we operate and grow our business together with our business partners. We are excited to be a part of a program through this partnership with Gateway Green Chicago that will help ‘Green our city’ and promote environmental conservation!

What is your favorite tea Argo Tea has to offer and why?

Right now, my favorite is our summer seasonal signature drink – Mango Mateccino. It’s a blend of energizing mate tea, sweet mango chunks and creamy milk that’s perfect for beating the summer heat.

How do you see Argo Tea as an asset to events?

We do more than simply supply small servings of our unique beverages – we also provide an interactive experience for the event attendees through our friendly and knowledgeable TeaMembers, who are excited to spread the word about the health benefits of tea and what makes our drinks so special. Our beverages serve merely as an introduction to the interesting, diverse world of tea.

What are the benefits of drinking tea over coffee?

We offer over 30 varieties of loose leaf teas, ranging from classic black and green teas to distinctive herbal-based teas.

Health benefits vary by the type of tea, but overall teas made from the camellia sinensis plant (black tea, green tea and white tea) are high in antioxidants which have a range of health benefits, from having anti-cancer properties, boosting the immune system and protecting against cardiovascular disease. Herbal-based teas have their own antioxidant, vitamin and mineral profiles.

As much as we love tea, we do have to say that our fair trade, organic and shade grown Argo Coffee is pretty good, and perfect for whenever you need a little extra caffeine kick!

Thanks, Rita for taking the time to explain what an innovative product Argo Tea creates!

For our final company we have Mojuba. The name, which in some African cultures refers to a bag of magical items that bring joy and happiness, speaks directly to the product. Bride and Groom Mojuba Wedding Emergency Kits are luxurious bags that contain a collection of stylish, must-have items that brides and grooms need to feel confident that the wedding day is absolutely perfect for everyone involved.  Jackie James has spoken to us all about her vision for the company and how it came to fruition!

What inspired you to begin creating wedding day survival kits?

I started in this business working at Lettuce Entertain You in Chicago and went on to become the Director of Catering at the Ambassador East Hotel and at the Pump Room.  After that I worked as the Director of Sales at Carousel Linens, before going off on my own doing weddings and events.  While I loved my work, after having 4 children I realized that I wanted my weekends for family but didn’t want to sacrifice my passion for weddings and events.  I have always loved helping brides, grooms and their families bring their big day together.  Being an event planner is a huge job, and by creating Mojuba Wedding survival kits, I have found a way to help even more brides and grooms without physically being at every wedding.

A planner could put together a kit like this but they already have so much on their plates dealing with bodies, music and other unplanned chaos!  I wanted to put this kit together so that there is a little less stress for the brides, grooms, and everyone else involved.  Everything in the kit has been tested to make sure it’s the best and most functional product out there.  I searched for the best fashion tape, the hairpins that hold the longest, the stain kit that proved the strongest - essentially, I wanted the best.

A wedding is such a huge event and brides are naturally focused on their big day and not on the things that could go wrong.  But at the end of the day there are a lot of people involved and everybody has their own needs.  The mother of the bride could get lipstick on her dress, the best man could cut himself shaving, the bridesmaids could be having hair issues, and the flower girl could take a spill and need a Band-Aid.  Everybody needs something different and these kits have everyone covered.  Anyone can run to the Mojuba bag and find whatever they’re looking for—at that much needed moment!

Mojuba is also a great way to make the groom feel included on the special day.  Let’s face it, not many men will go out and purchase this much-needed kit for themselves, so it’s a great gift from the bride to her groom or from a guest to the groom.

The bags arrive in beautifully designed boxes, which can then be used to store mementos from the wedding.  The bags themselves are also very practical, even after the wedding.  My husband actually uses his Mojuba bag everyday as a briefcase, and the bride kit is useful for travel or even as an everyday go-to bag as well.

In the end I love weddings, I love fashion and I love products so this is my way of combining all of my interests to produce something valuable and unique for brides and grooms.

What is one of the most underestimated items needed in your wedding survival kit?

It’s really the combination of everything because clearly anyone can go out and buy a few things they think might be needed, but having them all together is really priceless. Why go out and do it yourself when I’ve already done all the research and know everything that could go wrong, and how to fix it, and which products are best?

On the day of the wedding, everyone’s in a hurry, people are nervous and generally running late, and it’s important to stay on schedule. Unfortunately, if something goes wrong it tends to be a domino effect. That’s why it’s incredibly important to have the tools to fix each problem as it happens so as not to set the dominoes in motion.

How did you come about realizing the importance of some of the emergency items in your kit?

Every item in the kit came to me because of a different experience I had as a wedding planner.  For example, I’ve always had a good rapport with the grooms and groomsmen (many times I was given the task by their parents of making sure they didn’t drink prior to walking down the aisle).  However, I had a million other tasks at hand and couldn’t always watch them and make sure they didn’t wander off just before pictures. That’s why I decided to add the Mojuba playing cards, to give them something fun to do and keep them out of trouble!

Another item that may seem a little obsolete is the Kodak cameras. I know that everyone has digital cameras these days but when you have a tiny purse you can’t always fit everything in. Plus, these pictures tend to be the most spontaneous and some of the best memories of the night!

I learned the necessity of having shoe cushions while working a wedding in Memphis.  The Mother of the Bride came to me saying her feet were killing her so much that she couldn’t make it down the aisle. Luckily I had the Dancin’ Feet shoe inserts with me and crisis was averted!

I love fun products and things that are aesthetically pleasing so I made sure to avoid any generic brands and went for high end, quality products.  While it’s vital to have all of these products on the day of the wedding, just in case, you hopefully will not need to use each and every one.  The good news is, you’ll be able to use them long after the wedding – on the honeymoon, and happily ever after!

Thank you, Jackie! Mojuba is a really creative (and practical!) product and we’re so glad we were able to learn more about it from you!

We hope everyone can make it out to An Evening in Eden tomorrow at Galleria Marchetti from 6pm to 9pm to see these great vendors and many more!! See you in Eden!

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