Piper & Leaf: Building a Sense of Community

Piper & Leaf: Building a Sense of Community
Piper & Leaf is a family-run family—left to right, siblings Connor Knapp, MaryClaire Knapp, and Brigette Knapp Christopher, and Brigette’s husband, Caleb Christopher.

“Most of the people we’ve met in Huntsville are not from here,” explains Connor. “We were looking for a way to build a sense of community.” A friend suggested they connect with people through local farmers’ markets, and that led to what Connor describes as a slow series of accidents, culminating in the founding of Piper & Leaf, the artisan tea company Brigette, Caleb, Connor, and MaryClaire now own together.  

Piper & Leaf: Building a Sense of Community
(Above) Piper & Leaf’s first employee, brand ambassador, and “piperista,” Bob Gygax brews tea for customers at the Lowe Mill store.

The quartet’s original idea was to sell compost tea, highly valued by farmers and gardeners alike, at Huntsville’s Greene Street Market. Caleb owned a landscaping company, which would provide a steady supply of compost for making compost tea. MaryClaire, Brigette, and Caleb had recently traveled to Boston, witnessing its vibrant tea culture firsthand. They suggested adding flavored iced teas to their product mix.

One of the group’s early ideas to help build a sense of community was to sell their teas in 1-quart mason jars with a hole drilled into the lid to accommodate a straw. Sold for $10, the jars can be refilled for half price, giving people an incentive to come back to the farmers’ market.


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