Small Business Spotlight: Nailah Ellis Brings the Flavor Back to Detroit with Ellis Island Tea

July 31, 2012  |  

Image: Nialah Ellis

With the latest Census data showing Detroit’s overall population shrank by 25 percent in the last 10 years and national headlines that air out the city’s dirty laundry regarding crime, unemployment and economic instability, it’s safe to say that the Motor City has seen better days.

Luckily there’s a bright spot that shines in the midst of all the negativity surrounding the city: the rise of 20-something entrepreneurial types who have made it their mission to revive the city and restore it to its one-time standing as a destination for some of the brightest minds in the country.

Nailah Ellis, 24, is one to watch. After years of seeing friends and family members react positively to her great grandfather’s infamous homemade tea, her wheels started turning and she began to think about how she could leverage the family recipe and possibly turn it into something greater.

During the summer of 2008, when she was just 20 years old, Nailah launched Ellis Infinity, the holding company that would eventually spawn her first official product: Ellis Island Tea.

We caught up with Nailah to talk inspiration, convincing her father to give up the secret recipe and the challenges of running a small, but rapidly growing business.

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  • No problem! Love the work you’re doing with I Am Young Detroit!! Keep it up.

  • Go Nailah! Our website I Am Young Detroit ( has profiled young entrepreneurs in Detroit who are making their positive marks on the city for the past three years. They’re not as uncommon as you think. We even have a feature on Nailah coming up soon. Thank you Madame Noire for shedding some positive light on our city!

  • dontdoit

    Incredible story. This young lady had the courage to do what many would love to do. Entrepreneurship is really a way of life that can be very rewarding. Excellent. You all didn’t say where her tea can be purchased or if her product is available online, because if it was I would definitely try it.