Kevin Hart seemed to find a kindred spirit in a Detroit tea maker named Nailah Ellis, which caused him to invest in her company Ellis Island Tea.
The all-natural tea, created from a family recipe passed down by Nailah’s Jamaican great-grandfather Cyril Byron, is made with hibiscus and comes in a sweetened version made with sugar cane and honey as well as an unsweetened option that’s described in a press release as being “crisp” and “tart.”
Nailah, who’s in her 30s, started her tea company at age 20 in her mother’s kitchen and sold it from the trunk of her car around Detroit.
It seems that Hart was impressed by her grassroots approach and do-it-yourself mentality, since he too came from humble beginnings in show business before becoming one of Hollywood’s highest-paid comedians.
“There were a lot of people pulling for Nailah,” said Hart in a press release. “Her name just kept coming up and coming across my radar. So, I figured there had to be something to it.”
Hart’s investment comes at a time when Ellis Island Tea is soaring, as it will be in Walmart this July, plus Target and CVS later on. The tea is already in Sam’s Club, Costco, and concession stands at U.S. airports from coast to coast.
Today, Nailah is the largest Black female beverage manufacturer in America and has her own beverage production facility in Detroit.
She spoke about how inspiring her great-grandfather was, who arrived in America over a century ago through Ellis Island in New York. Nailah said not only did he hand down his tea recipe to future generations of family, but he also was a renaissance man who was ahead of his time.
“Cyril’s story is one of a true risk taker. He came here with nothing but his dreams,” said Nailah in a press statement. “He went on to become a head chef on Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line and then the owner of Byron Caterers, one of the most successful Black-owned catering businesses in the Bronx … [He said] this recipe is to be sold, not told.”
Nailah, who has two daughters, broke the news about Hart’s investment Wednesday, July 15, on Instagram and said it was challenging not to tell people about it at first.
“You cannot imagine how hard it was to contain this news!” she wrote next to a photo of herself with the “Night School” actor. “Well, the cat is out of the bag! Thank you for your belief in us, Kev! We are overfilled with excitement for what’s to come from this relationship!…Now I need y’all to go buy some tea because I gotta pay him back 😥😂.”
Hart introduced Nailah to his nearly 96 million Instagram followers in a Live video on Thursday, July 16, and explained why he wanted to invest in her company.
“I like the healthy component to it,” he told Nailah. “I think a lot of us are dying and suffering from the same things over and over again. It starts with taking care of yourself. So when you’re providing the things that we like and you’re putting some health benefits in it, I think that’s an amazing recipe for success. I’m already in. I’m team you. I’m going to be team you.”