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EmployABILITY Champion: Rapha Tea Temecula

The Temecula franchise location of Rapha Tea has been providing customers with high-quality, delicious bubble tea and premium hot teas since April 2023. Irene Tecson, franchise co-owner and general manager, took time out of her busy day to talk with us about Rapha Tea Temecula’s new status as an EmployABILITY Champion and what that means for the business.

Two people talking while drinking bubble tea at Rapha Tea Temecula

Do you have experience employing or working with people with disabilities?

We do have experience. One of our current employees is an individual with a disability. And I have a son who is deaf, so I’m very aware of the barriers to success that individuals with disabilities face. I’ve taught disability etiquette because I’ve seen the problems my son has faced in different workplaces. Employing people with disabilities is a mission for me. This grant helps us expand our inclusive hiring while growing our business and creating a place where people with disabilities, as employees and customers, are intentionally welcomed.


How do you plan to use the EmployABILITY Business Grant funds?

We plan to hire individuals with disabilities who will learn all aspects of the specialty tea business – from inventory control to customer service and beverage making. Part of the grant will be used to hire ASL instructors to teach all employees the language. This will help break down communication barriers between employees and between our employees and our customers who are deaf or hard of hearing. We are also bringing in a learning specialist who will help with ongoing sensitivity training and with onboarding new hires by making sure we offer training that is accessible for the disability the individual has.

A smiling barista holding out bubble tea to the camera

What does the future look like for your business?

We want to continue to be the number one milk tea shop in Temecula, to be able to open up more opportunities for individuals with disabilities and be known as a place where “everybody knows your name” – the Cheers of boba and bubble tea. We are working to be a place where people who are deaf and hard of hearing can feel welcomed and where they see representation.

A young person drinking bubble tea at Rapha Tea Temecula

What does it mean to you to be an EmployABILITY Business Champion?

From a business perspective, this grant helps us to keep our doors open. I have seen the effect inflation and economic stress have had on our business, and the EmployABILITY Business Grant is a huge relief from both. The funds also allow us to hire new employees with disabilities and work toward making us a place where individuals with disabilities are intentionally welcomed.


For more information on Rapha Tea Temecula, visit https://raphatea.org/.

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Image by Nick Karvounis

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