Interview by Gabby Reyes
Gabby Reyes: This is pretty exciting! So first of all, can you tell us what Cloud 9 is?
Cynthia Liu: Cloud 9 is a small teahouse that serves freashly brewed tea, real fruit smoothies, and frozen desserts, such as ice cream and Taiwanese shaved snow. It is designed as a place where families and students can go to hang out, play games in the wii room, and even do homework! Conveniently located in downtown Castro Valley, Cloud 9 is within walking distance of many local businesses and is just down the street from the town's only high school.
GR: How did you get the idea to start your own teahouse?
CL: This idea first started after I finished my undergraduate curriculum in December 2013. I had more than half a year before I started pharmacy school, so it became a little project I gave myself. By the end of January, I had filed my business as a corporation, started researching equipment, and began looking for the ideal location for my teahouse. Because Castro Valley is unincorporated, I had to follow the rules for Alameda County and they were known to be very strict and to cause a lot of trouble for small businesses. There were times where I felt extremely overwhelmed with the amount of work I had to do, but creating lists for myself and doing one thing at a time really helped me push through to the end. It took three to four months for me to complete all of the paperwork and another month for me to secure the lease for the location, but after that, everything sailed pretty smoothly.
GR: I can't even imagine how crazy this whole process has been for you. I'm sure you learned a lot about yourself in the past year! You should be really proud of Cloud 9. What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of opening our own business?
CL: Starting Cloud 9 was a life-changing experience and it has shown me what a little patience and a lot of determination can do. I still can't believe that the teahouse is up and running and is actually doing really well! The best part of the entire process was being able to design what I wanted the inside to look like, and how I wanted my customers to feel upon stepping in. The most rewarding part is when returning customers tell us how much they like our drinks and desserts and say that they're going to tell their friends all about us!
GR: Now that you are entering pharmacy school, how is the teahouse going to run without you?!
CL: Haha, well now that I'm back in school, my parents are currently running the business, and my two younger brothers are helping out. My parents have been a big support both financially and mentally, and I'm very excited to see where Cloud 9 will go! This taste of entrepreneurship has sparked my interested in opening my own independent pharmacy as well, so I'm planning on researching further into that field to see if it holds something for me in the future!