Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Daniel Lewis, Founder of PEKOE, located in Innisfil, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
PEKOE is a tea company on a mission to change the world one cup of tea at a time. Our name stands for "People Expressing Kindness Over Everything," and that's exactly what we're all about. We offer high-quality, single-origin teas sourced directly from the farm to your cup. Our teas are not only delicious but also ethically sourced, thanks to our Fair-trade and Rainforest Alliance Certified tea supplier relationship. At PEKOE, we're more than just a tea brand - we're a movement. We believe that every sip of tea can make a difference, and we're creating a community of tea-sipping, kindness-spreading, world-changing enthusiasts who believe in making the world a better place.
Tell us about yourself
Originally I set out to pursue a career in the music industry. However, after experiencing a traumatic incident in 2009 where I was the victim of a nearly fatal stabbing, I decided to make a decision and a promise that would change the entire course of my life.
In the hospital, I noticed the impact of the health professionals and the many others who came together to help me recover and save my life. With this reality, I asked myself, "Daniel, what impact do you have in this world?" Unhappy with the answer at that time, I decided to make a drastic change and dedicate my life to one of impact upon leaving the hospital. I was now officially on the hunt for a method, a platform, a vehicle, something, or some way of impacting people's lives in a positive way. [Insert TEA]
During this same period, I started drinking tea in lieu of alcohol, and it quickly became a passion. I thought to myself, "What if I created a tea company built on the foundation of impacting the lives of others in a special way and to market myself?" I could incorporate all that I learned from the music industry. Just one year later (2011), my wife Renata and I launched our first tea company - T By Daniel, which was eventually rebranded in 2021 to Daniel's Chai Bar Inc. Today, Daniel's Chai Bar is the parent company of PEKOE.
I didn't really set out to be an entrepreneur; instead, I was trying to find a way to share my purpose and mission with the world. It resulted in me becoming an entrepreneur. Who eventually went on to win many entrepreneurial awards, start several ventures, and even serve tea to His Royal Highness King Charles III in 2017.
Fast forward to 2023. PEKOE is a continuation of my mission to use tea as a vehicle to impact the world in a positive way. With a higher focus on sustainability, ethical partnerships, product sourcing, and of course, a Community of Kindness, PEKOE aims to push the border even further than we have in the past in making the world a better place. This is what motivates me each day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I've enjoyed many victories and also learned from the many obstacles and challenges throughout my business journey thus far, but to this day, my biggest accomplishment was being given the honour of serving tea to His Majesty King Charles in 2017 and even having him place an order for more a week later. The icing on the cake was when my wife and I received a personal letter two months later from His Majesty expressing his appreciation for the tea and our encounter—a definite 'Blue Moon' moment.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the most difficult things that comes with being a business owner is knowing whether or not your idea(s) are going to pay off. As business owners, we invest so much time and resources into our ideas in hopes that they will work and accomplish the goals we hope to achieve. But as any business owner will tell you, it doesn't always work out that way, and this can sometimes set us back quite a bit, whether financially, mentally, or in relation to time. This is one of the toughest realities of being a business owner.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Discover and own your "WHY" (Your business exists because...?)
- Obtain the appropriate funding, but do your best to limit taking on debt, as debt can kill a business before it starts. Use funding from a part-time job, crowdfunding, or love funding from family as a way to get started.
- Read books that expound on business in general and or your niche. Books are your 24/7 mentor. USE THEM!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.