By: Kamal Hylton
As a followup to my last blog on Government Programs and the Positive Rebellion of Being Self-Made, I had the opportunity to speak with a success story of The Starter Company program. Renata Lewis is a co-owner on T By Daniel along with her husband Daniel, one of the fastest growing local businesses within the City of Brampton. Having started the business in 2011, the Lewis’ have been honored with Brampton’s 2014 Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and grew it from a mere concept to a real self-made business.
“We always wanted to be entrepreneurs. From before we got married, both of us knew we wanted to run our own business and it was just a matter of finding a product or service that we were going to do. I was 22 at the time and the most I knew about tea was from tea bags, camomile, peppermint, sage and all those medicinal herbs.”
“We thought this was a cool concept, saw there aren’t many of these tea shops out there and decided to go for it! Putting our spin on it by blending fashion and other things we enjoy, our goal has been to share tea with our generation. People like us that enjoy the beverage but were never really exposed to it in this way.”
Being young business owners, it would’ve been easy for Renata and Daniel to turn T By Daniel into a strictly online store and widen the focus to cater to customers all over the world. So it’s refreshing to hear Renata speak about a business that has put so much focus on their local market, become entrenched within the local community and create a trendy downtown space.
“My mother gave me really good advice about starting local. Make sure that your neighbor knows you sell tea before people in British Columbia or New York know that you sell tea. That grounded us and helped us put our focus within our city of Brampton. We got involved with the Board of Trade to network ourselves within the business community, started attending a lot of the events hosted by the city and little by little began to grow and be part of bigger events like the Brampton Farmers Market.”
It’s clear that self-made people are a different breed and being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. However speaking with Renata, she has some useful advice for those interested or curious about venturing on their own.
“First and foremost anything is possible, it just depends on your dedication and how much work you’re willing to put into it. People have this idea around entrepreneurship that it’s a glamorous life where you get to make you own schedule, but you’ll actually never work harder when you’re an entrepreneur. That may not be encouraging but its real.”
“If you go in with the intention of wanting to be rich, you won’t survive. You have to go through some years of some serious hustle, wear the same pair of pants for two or three days etc… You won’t be able to go shopping, live where you want or drive the car you want but it’s all worth it in the end because it will pay off over time.”