Co-founder of Sandows Cold Brew Coffee
So how did you come up with the idea of Cold Brew Coffee?
I actually came across it whilst working at TAP coffee in London. Four years ago I hated coffee but I’d just come back from some traveling and had spent the last month working on a fishing trawler, where I developed a bit of a habit from drinking cup after cup to stay alert through the 16hour shifts! At TAP it turned into a real passion and a year in we started making cold brew with this beautiful glass dripper.
Another year on and I was managing the newly opened Soho branch, thats when Hugh came to work for us and together we realised there was a real market for cold brew; people were buying it out as soon as we’d made a batch and it became a bit of a nightmare to stay on top of.
I guess this provoked the idea of making cold brew much more available, so we decided to see what we could come up with in terms of scaling up the process, whilst keeping quality and consistence high priorities. We looked to companies like Stumptown in the U.S for inspiration and realised there was a huge market there too as well as in other places. We never really came up with the idea, we’ve just sort of customised our own process, cold brew actually originates from Japan, they love it out there!
Do you think cold coffee is a product that has a high demand?
Yeah, I mean we waited a year before we launched it. There wasn’t enough demand last year but we felt confident that this year the wave would break and everyone would jump onboard!
Who does all the branding?
We were lucky, some mates of ours were in the process of launching their own design company called Studio Thomas (they are both called Thomas!), so we’ve sort of worked together to help each other out. We came to them with the name, some ideas and the bottles styles but its thanks to them that the branding is so iconic.
What was your biggest fear before launching the product?
That’s a good question. I guess to go from being in a job that is so secure, especially when you’re living in London, where the rents are quite high, you want to go out and stuff and you kind of come to relying on your income quite heavily. The most frightening thing was when we decided to go full-time on it, wondering whether we would be able to support not only one but two of us. Its a big leap of faith but its paid off!
What have you learnt only now and haven’t thought about before?
Quite a lot. It was a very steep learning curve. When you have a business and you have to survive, then you need to learn stuff really quickly. I love it because you get so intensely submerged in the most random information; one week I’ll be looking through hundreds of diagrams of bottle moulds and different machinery, the next I’ll be doing a crash course in accounting with a bit of welding, woodwork and sewing thrown in there.
What is the top country you would like to have business in the most?
It would probably be Tokyo. There’s already quite a big market in America but a lot of competition that comes with that, plus its a very different kind of market. Tokyo looks like more fun anyway. The ultimate plan is to open breweries in a bunch of different countries, but hire and source from within a small radius so that everything is local, rather than just export what we make here overseas. Imagine that; ‘Sandows Tokyo’, that would be cool.
Luck or talent?
Ideally a bit of both but if I had to choose then probably luck, much more exciting that way.
What you know or who you know?
Who you know.
What is the key for pushing your brand out there?
Just trying to stay on people’s minds. And always doing something new, keeping people interested. Social media has been very important for us. Twitter and Instagram are goldmines for marketing. Selfridges found us through Instagram. All the buyers go through a lot of stuff and they follow different people, so if someone follows you or they take a picture, it all gets tagged. It’s like networking online. It’s really really good. Hugh takes care of the Twitter and I do the Instagram.
Don’t you think winter is a tough period for cold liquids?
It is, yeah. Obviously it’s not going to be as huge as it is in summer. But I mean people still drink cold drinks in winter; coke, fruit juice, beer! In America it has become a year round thing, people drink it all the time. We only launched 7 months ago and summer was incredible, the fact that we’re still selling stuff in winter is fantastic. Obviously we’ll do a lot less now, but it also gives us a chance to start preparing for the next summer as we have a lot of plans.
What are you looking for the most in the near future?
We’re just about to scale the business up, so we’re changing a lot of things. We’ll be doing a crowd funding campaign in February so we’ll be selling a part of our company to raise enough money to move into a big warehouse and have a brewery, some office space and storage too. So that’s exciting. You know what else is exciting? Hiring people. There’s something about the idea of giving someone a job and teaching them something, developing a team, creating a workplace where people can come in, do work but also really enjoy it, learn something and take away something from it.
When I worked at TAP the owner Richard was so inspiring, he made you want to go out and do something and he really instilled a sort of ‘you can do anything’ mentality which we’ve carried into Sandows. At least four people who have been working at Tap have gone off and started their own business. A lot of that is down to him. He’s responsible for a lot of that success. I think that’s really cool and if I could do the same for just one person I’d be pretty content with that!
"You’ve just got to love what you do. If you don’t then keep looking. You can have plenty of fun trying new things but you wont have any pretending you love something you don’t. "
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