Tommy and Zoe, 26 and 27, are co-founders of Wunder Workshop, a turmeric-based organic drinks brand based on the Ayurvedic principles of food as medicine.
BY ELISSA ROSE
Where did you get the idea from to start Wunder Workshop?
Zoe: My late mother had been in the health and wellbeing industry for over 40 years, so using food as medicine had always played an integral part of my upbringing. But it wasn’t until my second visit to an Ayurvedic retreat in Sri Lanka with my mother that I learned more from the Ayurvedic doctors about the power of what we consume and how it can be used to prevent disease. Turmeric was a fundamental part of everything I experienced in Sri Lanka and the idea to develop products to make this more accessible came naturally.
How important was it to research the provenance of your products?
Zoe: It is really important that we know where all of our ingredients are coming from. The second time I went out to Sri Lanka I went in search of a farm that would grow the best organic turmeric, and I was lucky to find one. It was so important to me to see who grows and processes our most important ingredient, the warmth and generosity of the people there made me 100% certain that this was the best source.
“The online market is saturated, so it can be hard to find the very best.”
What challenges did you find you had when setting up a drink business?
Tom: We have had all sorts of challenges in the process of setting up our business. Our drinks are unpasteurized which means they only have a 4-day shelf-life, naturally this comes with many logistical hurdles, but we are very grateful that the London market is very fast-moving and can handle such short-shelf life products.
Zoe: The biggest challenge has been the insecure nature of being a start-up. Life just happens and your business depends on your own strength, motivation and well-being. A month after I launched my brand my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away a year later, so every day during that time and since has needed that extra bit of motivation to keep on going and believing in your own brand and not give up at the first set-back.
What kind of parameters are there for certifying yourselves as organic producers?
At the top level it all starts from the farms that we import from, they are required to invest in new production techniques that are often seen as riskier to crop production. However, these production methods do not use the chemical pesticides which destroy both harmful and beneficial animals. There are also many changes that we make in order to comply, such as using eco-friendly cleaning equipment in our commercial kitchen. Everything must be organic and moreover not in contact with non-organic produce.
Where did you find the inspiration for the look and feel of your branding?
Zoe: Our branding is inspired by the Kandy Mountains in Sri Lanka. The hot and humid climate that engulfs the rolling mountains there is perfect for growing turmeric. We like to stick to our roots (pun intended) and we found this the perfect way to do so.
How did you go about garnering press coverage for your brand?
Zoe: We have never used any external PR agencies in our time as a brand so far. We have been fortunate to meet journalists and bloggers at events we have organised and a number of journalists have come across our products at health and wellbeing events that we have worked in collaboration with other brands. For this reason, it is always such an honour when someone asks to cover our products.
How important to do you find interacting with customers on social media?
Zoe: We never underestimate the power of social media as it has been such a massive part of our business. We love to interact with customers there as they are the most honest and their feedback is really important.
How important is it to network within the industry to promote your brand?
Tom: Networking is really important, but I think it has negative stereotypes. We have built some great friendships along our journey so far and so we don’t see it as networking. The food and drink industry in London is booming yet everyone has been so friendly and forthcoming with advice.
What do you wish you had known from the start about creating a business?
Tom: That as much as you plan ahead, nothing ever stays according to plan. It is really important to be flexible, innovative and always ready for change.
What advice would you give someone looking to start a food or drink brand in the UK?
Zoe: Go for it. If you have the idea and the passion, just do it. We live in a world full of opportunities, and if we really want something and put out the right energy and attitude, you will reap your benefits for all your hard work.