13 July 2015

Inspiration Mondays: Zoe from The Kettle Shed

The Kettle Shed is a start up Loose leaf tea company based in London that has a passion for great tasting tea. The owner of the shed is The The Lady: Zoe Nixon with a background in finance followed her dream of creating her own company. She started by creating blends and selling them loose at food and drink markets across West London.
Every time you buy a box of tea from The Kettle Shed, a donation of tea goes directly to homeless shelters across the UK. The packaging is made from recycled cardboard and their fuso tea bags are biodegradable so there's no harm to the planet.

What made you decide to start your own business?
I have always wanted to work for myself, I was never good at being told what to do. I was thrown out of school at 13 and went straight to work. I started in the hospitality industry worked for a while and then did my degree in International business and hospitality. I then ran a pub with restaurant/hotel in Devon in my early 20s, finished off my degree in Devon and then came back towards the city with
bigger aspirations and knowing it's the best place for work. I went for a banking position as my financial skills were weak and I didn't understand the broader picture. I knew if I was ever to succeed in running my own business, I had to get my head around this and a perfect place to learn was in commercial banking and working for a corporate company. The bank was an amazing platform for me. I loved every minute of it. Learning and helping businesses to grow and building my networks,
I also saw how many failed and struggled. It was brilliant. I was home with my second daughter and thought this is the time for me to create something.

What were the first steps you took to starting The Kettle Shed?
I was mulling over business ideas and couldn't understand why my passion kept going off boil after a week, even though they were all good ideas to make money! I decided to go on a spiritual business course for a weekend. We drilled down what my passions and values were as a person and took the money out of the equation. It was back to where I had originally started..... hospitality haha! I wanted a tea shop, community based, people, good food, tea. Bringing people together and being busy
that's me. However... I couldn't do that with a new baby, I could but I would never see her. I had lot's of free time as she was an angel so I decided I could get the brand ready, sourcing, designing the packaging, testing out around my daughter I could do this! I can have both. I started very slowly with homemade packaging and testing blends at food and drinks markets, set up my website. Once I had decided on my direction, I hit the streets with tea in my bag and targeted small independent cafes and shops.

Have you faced any challenges so far? What were they?
The biggest challenge I faced was on cold rainy days at markets making little or no profit! I felt like crying demotivated and thought what are you doing you have gone mad! 12 months previous I was sat at my warm comfy desk in Pall Mall doing corporate deals, making money and now I am
selling £3.50 bags of tea! I pushed through and must say it's all in the mind, the whole point of sitting there was to test my products, it was a perfect platform to meet with high end foodies and get their feedback.

I am a kind of all or nothing girl and passionate. So when you have a young family at home, trying to fit everything in as a single parent and working all day alone and not having any anyone to bounce off, is sometimes hard but if its what you want you will do it. I had to be strict on my personal time, not answering the phone when my daughter is around or not letting anyone pop in for coffee in the daytime while you are working, I guess I'ts learning to say no and keeping to a strict diary, otherwise work and home life become one.

Tell me what your Monday looks like:
I try and run to the nursery with my daughter on her scooter then list what time I have through the week. I go through all my diary/emails and list and in priority for the week and get stuck in and answer any emails that have come through over the weekend.

What does the future look like for The Kettle Shed?
I am hoping this year we will expand into hotels and keep growing in different establishments, as well as people buying it online.

What would your advice be to anyone who wants to get into food retail
and start their own brand?

Don't give up your day job! First test things out and wait until you start to make money or you could find yourself with no job or company. Be real 9 out 10 company's fail in the first 2 years!

Can you give us an industry insider's tip or hint?
When someone says no! instead of taking it personally ask why! If I had listened to all the no's I would never have never got anyway, no is a yes inside out, it just needs a bit of work.

You can follow The Kettle Shed on Twitter and Facebook.

If you would like to hear from an influential woman in a specific industry, let me know and I will do my best to deliver an Inspiration Monday with them in mind!


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