When Kayla Thornton isn’t helping customers find a favorite tea at Teavana, she’s falling gracefully through the air, bound in colorful silk fabric.
Thornton is an aerialist who trains several times per week to perform acrobatic skills high above the ground. She has been able to take her love of performance to work as she shares the history and artistry of tea with customers.
Thornton started doing aerial arts four years ago after seeing a concert that included aerial performers.
“For the next few months after seeing that performance, I looked everywhere to find a place to learn aerial arts,” she said. “I was determined to make aerial a part of my life.”
Thornton joined the Infinity Aerial studio in Columbus, Ohio and began to focus on training.
“Doing some of the skills is terrifying at first, but also so rewarding,” she said. “I equate it to having your own personal rollercoaster.”
Thornton began securing performances with the studio and at other events throughout Columbus. She was also asked to become an instructor at the studio.
“I love teaching, putting shows together and choreographing,” she said. “It’s the best feeling when I see my students master a skill for the first time.”
"You have to go in with the attitude that you can soar"
After speaking with a fellow performer who worked for Teavana, Thornton decided to apply for a job with the company. In September 2014, she began working at a Teavana specialty retail store.
“I love tea and I have been a Teavana fan since high school,” she said. “I’m from the South, so tea is a big part of my life.”
For Thornton, there are similarities between working at Teavana and doing aerial arts.
“You have to go in with the attitude that you can soar,” she said. “Even if there are days that just don’t go the way you want, you brush it off, see what you can do to change things and get back out there.”
Working at Teavana has its advantages for an aerial instructor.
“I notice a big difference when I drink tea before doing aerial,” Thornton said. “If I know I have a long day of teaching, I drink a matcha tea beverage, which provides me the energy to get through a long physical day.”
Photo credit: Split Sugar Photography