In their four years travelling the globe, Vincent Conti and Mario Minichilli discovered authentic Masala Tea throughout the subcontinent. Upon returning to Australia, they opened a café in St Kilda and began developing a Chai blend inspired by those they’d fallen in love with in India. As they perfected their recipe, customers grew to love their Chai and fate brought about a friendship with Koray Gencel. The three of them founded Prana Chai and the rest, as they say, is history!
What are the most important factors when you source your spices and tea blend?
It’s important to source the best quality tea and spices regularly across the globe. It can be quite tricky sometimes due to crop yield and availability, but I'm fortunate to work with great suppliers.
Tell us about an interesting experience or encounter you had recently?
I recently had a lovely customer from Perth, WA, who loves Prana Chai, call me to let me know how our Chai has helped her get through a difficult period in life due to illness. She drinks Prana Chai everyday and is a strong believer that it has helped with their recovery due to the amazing healing spices and tea.
What was the last gift you gave someone and why did you choose it?
I sent the aforementioned customer a couple of kilos of chai on behalf of Prana. It felt good to know that our product has helped someone through such a hard time, and it was lovely to know that we could make her day a little brighter by sending her some of the "good stuff".
You've run cafe businesses before Prana Chai. What was the best thing about them and what was the best take away from the experience? Do you have any tips for people who are running cafes?
I was born for hospitality. I love food and wine, and also the rush of a busy cafe when everything runs seamlessly and you have a great service. Your staff are your most important asset. If you train them well and look after them, they will take care of your business, especially when you are not there. Serving someone is a great skill, but to do it with grace and wanting nothing in return is a true gift and I love it when I see the joy and happiness in my customers after receiving a great experience.
It's the simple things like good old-fashioned customer service that keeps people coming back...Something as simple as remembering a customer’s name shows them they are important and keeps them returning.
What is your wildest dream, outside of your business?
To build a school in India for the not-so-fortunate children, from the proceeds from our company. To give back the joy and happiness which has been provided to me through years of running Prana Chai with my business partners Mario and Koray.
What are you grateful for in the Prana Chai family?
I am grateful for all the staff in the business that they take on board and understand that they are part of the global family and part of Prana Chai, a special product that is made by hand everyday. I am grateful for the passion and drive of my 2 business partners Koray and Mario, our heated conversations which come from the desire to improve ourselves and our product to the next level. I would love to see Prana Chai impacting people’s lives, one tea leaf and a spice at a time.