East Sider

Tea Time

How an old recipe and some good luck brought the multi-generational Granny Squibb team together


It’s an unusual trio: Robin Squibb, 73-year-old owner of local iced tea brewer The Granny Squibb Company, and Nick Carr and Kelley McShane, both 32, Squibb’s new business partners. Yet, they actually have a lot in common – aside from a taste for tea.

Squibb attended Wheeler High School, then moved to New York City and worked in the film industry for decades. In 2003, Squibb returned to Providence and purchased an old house on Benefit Street, where she settled back into East Side life. She began brewing the iced tea recipe that her grandmother, Sally Squibb, born on Bowen Street, used to make back in the 1930s. After trying “52 or 53” formulas, she found just the right combination of ingredients and began bottling, ultimately launching her own small company.

So where do a couple of millennials come in? Like the tea itself, their involvement has been organic: Carr and McShane met Squibb by renting an apartment in her building in spring 2017.

A Rhode Islander all his life, Carr was a financial advisor. McShane, a New Jersey native, spent childhood summers in Watch Hill, attended Portsmouth Abbey School, and settled in Rhode Island in 2010, where she ran a tutoring business and also worked with Amos House. The couple married in 2015 and resided in South County – until they got tired of commuting and started looking at places in Providence. Squibb’s upstairs apartment was also “just what [they] were looking for.”

The three realized that they shared many interests: adventure, sports, community ac- tivities, local history, and collaboration – all of which tap into the Granny Squibb ethos. In early 2018, Carr and Squibb passed each other in the hallway, and Carr asked how the business was. Squibb replied, half-joking, “Oh, it’s been a terrible day – do you want it?” Carr immediately discussed the idea with McShane, which led to a serious offer. The duo quit their jobs, and now they co-lead Granny Squibb full-time.

In the seven months since Carr and McShane came aboard, growth increased 40 percent.

“I think we’re all the same age at heart,” Carr says.

“It’s so fun – it’s such a great company,” adds McShane.

Granny Squibb holds offices in the Hatch En- trepreneurial Center, a co-work space on Weybossett Street. The company currently sells two flavors in sweetened or unsweetened options, Lemon and Mojito Lime. They plan to launch a third flavor, Charlie’s Cranberry, named after Squibb’s dog.

The three East Siders love the neighborhood’s walkability and proximity to universities and are excited about the diverse restaurants of Wickenden Street. They appreciate how supportive the local business community has been of their venture.

“I think it’s a really exciting time to be in Providence,” says Squibb.