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  • Patricia Neuray

Charity Begins at Home

Part three of a five part series.

This week I am moving East because, as it turns out, California does not have a monopoly on mission driven companies! And while many companies are giving back on a national or even international level, the two organizations I’m profiling today are keeping it closer to home. Their products are wildly different, but their commitment to their local communities are extremely similar. Argo Tea and Balanced Guru are rewarded by being able to see firsthand how they are making an impact.

Argo Tea opened in Chicago in 2003. Arsen Avakian, who was originally from Armenia, developed the concept after sitting in a coffee shop one day wondering why tea wasn’t more like coffee—delivered hot in a cup or chilled in a bottle in a variety of flavors and ready to drink. After doing research and discovering that tea is the most consumed beverage in the world, he had also discovered a new business idea.

Although his concept has certainly caught on with new tea shops popping up all over the country, Argo Tea was one of the originals and is now one of the most successful with more than 45 tea cafes in the U.S. and the Middle East. They now also distribute their products online and in stores with over 20,000 distribution points.

However, while no one can deny their business success, I think that what really makes Avakian’s company stand out is the passion and the ethics that are woven into the company’s DNA. Every decision that Argo Tea makes is reflective of the values that guide them: community, diversity, charity, quality, sustainability and creativity. One example of their commitment to their community is the recent restoration and renovation of an abandoned park that now includes a greenhouse, community center and, of course, a tea café. As Avakian says, “What matters is how we grow in our business and in our lives while also touching the lives of others around us.”

Balanced Guru is based in Florida and was started by brother and sister Juan and Paola Pinto. They founded Balanced Guru with a conscious and passionate commitment to promoting the wellbeing of both their customers and the planet. They craft hair, skin and body products that are certified organic, cruelty-free and sustainable. And they limit their environmental impact by ensuring that all their bottles, jars and packages are made with 100% recycled materials.Their labels and formulations are also 100% biodegradable and free of harmful chemicals and toxins.

And while they are minimizing their environmental impact, they are also striving to maximize their social impact. Balanced Guru has created partnerships with local non-profits to launch limited edition lines of their products. 100% of the proceeds are then donated back to the organizations so they can raise more money for their charitable cause. Juan and Paola believe that we can change the world if we are conscious of our intentions and act accordingly. As Gandhi once said “be the change you wish to see in the world.” At Balanced Guru, they strive to be the embodiment of what Gandhi advocated, and dedicate a space to those less fortunate.

So, while Argo Tea and Balanced Guru are helping to sustain the body, they are also helping to sustain the soul. By using their businesses to make an impact in their local communities, they are setting an example that all of us can and should follow.

If you have feedback or ideas for other companies that I should profile, please contact me at

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