Entrepreneur Interview – Darren Spence

July 4, 2019

This month, we had the pleasure of getting to know Darren Spence, Founder of We Are Tea, a multi-award-winning premium tea company.

 

  1. What’s your background prior to setting up We Are Tea?

I started my career working at Deloitte & Touche (as was). I was part of the Private Client Tax team so spent a lot of my time working on income and capital gains tax mitigation strategies, succession planning, and setting up offshore trusts. I genuinely enjoyed it. A good bunch of people, not quite doing good, but good times nonetheless.

 

  1. Where did your inspiration (and love of tea) come from to create the We Are Tea brand?

I woke up one day around 12 years ago and decided to stop drinking coffee. I got into tea in a big way especially how different types of teas can wake you up, help you sleep and everything in between. While on my journey of tea discovery, I found the world of speciality tea a bit unwelcoming and quite stuffy. My vision was to create a tea company that was much more accessible and open and would appeal more to people like me. After many twists and turns, We Are Tea was born.

 

  1. What has been the hardest barrier to overcome whilst setting up the company?

The hardest thing has been people. Trying to attract top talent to a vision, rather than an established brand/business, has been very tough. On the one hand you have consultants telling you that you’re doing great, as long as they are getting paid and on the other hand you have people arriving with big-business backgrounds looking like rabbits caught in the headlights after walking into the fluidity that is a start-up.

 

  1. What is unique about your business in the market?

I no longer think a business has to be unique rather it is the sum of the parts that build loyalty, repeat custom and ultimately success. We focus heavily on quality, design, innovation and exceptional customer service, which has served us well. We are selling a tea experience, which is far removed from the commodity itself.

 

  1. Where do you see the business going in the future?

We are currently looking at leveraging our position in the UK to take the brand international. I am confident that a huge opportunity exists to build a loyal customer base in selected overseas territories. I also see We Are Tea further raising awareness on sustainability and the environment kicking off with our upcoming partnership with Friends of the Earth. Business as a force for good is our future.

 

  1. What 4 personality traits do you have that have helped make you successful today?

Passion. Ambition. Persistence. Positivity.

 

  1. What time does your alarm go off and how do you prepare yourself for the day?

I don’t have an alarm. I am definitely a lark and wake naturally at around 5.30am. I start the day with a pot of tea and spend around 30 minutes just thinking. My youngest usually joins me at around 6am and my eldest at around 7am so I get to have breakfast with my children before heading into the office.

 

  1. What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs starting up their own business?

Take the time to look after yourself both mentally and physically. The founder is the business’s most valuable asset. There is no award for working the longest hours, not eating properly and not exercising. It simply makes you feel lousy and can impact your ability to run your business effectively. I would double down on this advice when things aren’t going well.

 

  1. What is one of the things you would put on your “bucket” list?

I have been fascinated with flight ever since I was young and I would love to try proximity flying, which is basically jumping off a mountain in a winged-suit while navigating your way through the landscape. The closest thing to flying that there is.

Quick Fire:

  1. Favorite type of tea? Dragonwell – sounds like something Jon Snow would drink and happens to be one of the best green teas on the planet.
  2. Any hidden talents? I can touch my nose with my tongue.
  3. If you could be anyone else for a day? My wife so I get to see just how annoying I can be (with a view to becoming less annoying obviously).
  4. Life motto? Live and let live.
  5. Favorite author? Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo has pretty much everything I want from a book)
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