JOE KINCH / JOE'S TEA CO
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1. Tell us about you/your company/project.
Ten years ago I fell into the tea industry looking after a small supply chain and was given an opportunity to learn the ropes in purchasing tea - this was beginning of a journey I could never have imagined. After a few years of sourcing teas, travelling to farms and endless trade shows, I had a penny drop moment of how to turn my experience and skills into a business. A simple vision of making good quality tea accessible and affordable.
After a bit of planning, mixed in with some procrastination, Joe's Tea Co. was born in 2012 - six years on, we directly source exclusively organic teas and herbal infusions and supply to some of the best restaurants, hotels and retail shops across the UK and Europe.
2. What is your deep reason for choosing the path you're taking? Your "why"?
People are at the very heart of Joe's Tea Co. - tea brings people together and the honesty it brings out people is simple but meaningful. Just maybe we can take a timeout from our fast-paced busy lifestyles and stop, have a cup of tea with our work pals or friends and be present in the moment. It's powerful stuff.
3. What is the big dream, or legacy you're creating?
A big part of what we're trying to achieve as a business is to create a window into an industry that people don’t know much about - telling the story of the whole journey of your cup of tea. #Fromfarmtocup
I'll give you a comparison to think about for a second... when was the last time you bought a pack of coffee? I'll paint the scene, you head to the supermarket aisle and you're faced with plenty of choice, Columbian, Ethiopian, Peruvian.. the list goes on - the story of how/where the beans are grown is so visible. Big bold statements ensuring that farmers are being paid fairly and that the coffee beans are sustainably sourced. Now head down the aisle a little and check out the tea section - can you tell me where your tea is from, it's real provenance? I'm guessing the answer is no. This is because most large brands in the UK blend multiple provinces.
At Joe's Tea Co. we are only working with organic farms in Sri Lanka and we communicate this on our packaging and via our website. We pay above fair trade price and give back directly to projects that have a benefit to the farms and people working on them. The majority of these farms being small hold, family-run businesses that are faced with very common everyday organic farming aches and pains. By only working with organic farms we are ensuring that our ecosystems are kept well for the long-term benefit of the planet and creating the true definition of sustainability, a supply chain that cares for its people which is paramount, fair pay for all and a farming eco-system that continues to create quality crops year on year.
4. What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
In business, be flexible. It helps.
Read more. Listen, learn to really listen, this is a very important skill.
I've recently discovered meditation and wish I'd discovered this years ago.
There’s lots more I guess, but all of these things will help you in business and in life.
5. What companies/projects inspire you?
I'm lucky enough to have grown a very interesting network of, and work alongside, some very inspiring people and brands within the food sector. I can't help but admire what Pukka have achieved, their approach to creating new products and dedication to evolving the brand is incredible, I'm always amazed at how responsive to consumer trends they are.
Another business I have started to follow from afar is Riverford Organic. I receive their newsletters each month and their updates on seasonal obstacles they face are very candid, it makes you realise how much work goes into organic farming in general and it's another example of how the larger, more established organisations move and re-mould their businesses to give the best to customers, when faced with whatever nature throws their way.
6. What does your industry/cornwall/location need to see more of?
More good tea in local cafes and restaurants.
7. What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on now?
My favourite project is my two-year-old daughter, a very different and exciting challenge that has reset my lifestyle and business goals in many ways for a positive reason.
For my other baby, I'm currently working on a number of new product ranges for Joe’s Tea launching in 2019, which is always great fun. Sourcing ingredients, creating new blends and working with designers is what really excites me. Watch this space!
8. What problem in the world do you see that you’re fixing? Be it personal or professional...
Smartphones - I'd put them in my room 101. I realise they're incredibly useful and I enjoy being able to take photos on the hop, the ability to run my business from anywhere but they're taking over our lives. I'm making more of a conscious effort to put mine down, and I think we all should.
9. If you could go back, what's one thing you would have done differently?
ZERO - you’ve got to go through the bad experiences and make those mistakes if you want to get better. I have made some absolute howlers in the past - I remember in our third year we ran out of stock of our Ever-So-English Breakfast tea (this is not good for a tea company btw), I had no back up plan and had to call our customers to tell them the bad news - no tea for a month. Thankfully, they were all super understanding and supportive, and we got through it. I still have nightmares about that to this day. Haha.
10. Who has been the most help to you along the way? And why?
My wonderful girlfriend, Lindsey, has been an absolute rock by my side. It's very clichéd but having her support has meant the world to me. Check her out as she also happens to be an incredible Nutritional Therapist.
All of the Joe's Tea Co. team are ace - shout out to them, they know who they are.
I've also been very fortunate to pick up some brilliant mentors over the years which have been invaluable sounding boards for decisions both small and big.
Anyone who wants to be connected to Joe and his epic team, his details are below:
We're based in London town so it would be great to be connected to the foodie scene of Cornwall, specifically cafe, restaurant, hotel owners. We love it down there as a family so any excuse to head down for a meeting suits me well. I can pretend I’m a surfer.
Give us a call on 0203 488 0063
Follow us on all the social media channels @JoesTeaCo