Interview with Founders of Made A Tea, Jan Thompson & Sab Wright
East Londoners, Jan Thompson and Sab Wright of Made A Tea launched their fully-tested wellbeing teas in February 2018. Almost a year on, the teas are sold from their own website: madeatea.com and through the growing number of UK stockists and agents.
The authenticity of what they are doing is the reason this fledgling brand is so successful. Their backgrounds as a Tutor and Digital Advertiser couldn’t be further from this joint venture but what brought them together, are the 3 rare neurological conditions they have between them; all which have been brought under control with complex brews they crafted for themselves. Their Temple Tamer tea for headaches, Dusk To Dawn, which promotes sleep and Mind & Body; a dual pack for night and day, are their signature blends. Since then, they’ve launched Boom for male health and Keto Kick, which supports the health and nutrition of those following a low-carb diet.
They say 2019 will see the launch of perhaps their most exciting brew to date! So watch this space…
Describe a typical day for you?
I’m up 5:15 weekdays and about 6:30 at the weekend. I feed Harry the fostered guinea pig and change his hay. We were meant to have him for a few days but 3 years later…I do some housework, put my tea to brew and shower.
I check my emails and socials for comments – which I respond to. Then I put on the BBC news and prepare daughter’s breakfast. She has breakfast in bed watching the news and it’s an opportunity for us to catch up, discuss the world and for me to gauge her mood.
Once she’s had her bath and is dressed we make our way to the school bus pick up point at the corner of our road. By 8:00 I’m at my kitchen table where I pretty much attend to every facet of my life.
At 9:15 Sab & I have our morning meeting (via Skype on the days where we aren’t meeting in person).
Then it’s dealing with orders, enquiries, speaking with agents,preparing posts, writing blogs/articles/newsletters, collating information from research participants, updating website and developing our business growth strategy.
I down tools at around 4, cook our evening meal and collect Lorena from the school bus at 5:15 if my husband is running late.
My early evening is dedicated to Lorena’s needs &catching up with my husband. She practices her piano, guitar and LAMDA most evenings and we discuss our respective lives, as well as world events. On Fridays, Lorena and I have girls’ night. We massage each other, paint our toenails and trawl through Netflix.
By 8:30 Lorena’s in bed (at weekends it’s anything between midnight and 4am). I iron, do a wash load, prep her packed lunch and attend to any emails and socials that require a response. Sab and I often have a late catch-up but not for the sake of it, only for making decisions and prepping for the day ahead. I generally go to bed between midnight and 1 am.
I begin my day before my 9-year-old son wakes up by taking my medication, drinking my nerve pain tea as I have a painful neurological condition called Neuro Myelitis Optica and finally meditating to relax my mind and body to prepare for a busy day of rushing around with a zillion tasks to do. 15 minutes to scan emails before I wake my son and get him ready for school whilst we chat about everything and anything – he’s a right chatter box but I love his stories! My mum or brother will often take him to school on route to work. At 9.15 I have a daily meeting with my business partner Jan.
Immediately afterwards I’ll jump in the car, call my sister on route to the gym (where my other brother (no.2) is a personal trainer) where I’ll have an hour session or endure a hard but rewarding 90 minutes of hot yoga. Then it’s back home or to our head office to do a few hours work. My condition means I often suffer from fatigue, so I’ll nap for 30 minutes before I collect my son from school and we do our usual visit to the local park (or his dad will do pick up and park, we take it in turns each week). Once we’re home I’ll sit with my son and help with his homework whilst our “chef” prepares dinner. At around 6.30 brother no.3 (who lives locally) will pop round, mums home and we all have dinner and chat about our day. Then it’s time to relax before I put my son to bed with a story.
Jan and I will often have a catch up on the things we’ve done that day and plan for the week ahead. Afterwards it’s time for my herbal tea, candles and trashy TV to unwind and clear my mind. My phone also goes on ‘do not disturb’ mode after 10pm.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Raising a well-adjusted, ethically aware, happy 9-year-old who is consistently described as a ‘role model’!
Maintaining my sanity (relatively so).
Taking the direst circumstance (chronic illness) and turning it into a business that benefits not only those who take our tea but those who sell it as agents and stockists.
The first thing that popped into my head is becoming a mum. My son is such a polite, clever, affectionate (I know this may not last) and funny little diamond – I’m so proud of him!
Also managing to be a strong role model for him even though I have a neurological illness (NMO) that has seen me hospitalised many times with serious relapses, I have a very supportive and large network of friends and family that have helped me raise him. It’s important to me that he learn seven though his mum has fallen, I rise stronger every time and he can do the same.
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
Used cinema tickets (Peter Rabbit)
A few Tic Tacs
A book; My Headteacher is A Vampire Rat
Perfume samples courtesy of Sab.
An assortment of pens and pencils and a notepad.
I quit handbags when I gave up working in digital advertising, now I carry handheld purses that fit just the essentials, a sample size bottle of Paco Rabanneand a sample size Elizabeth Arden hand cream (brother no. 4 gifted to me a big bag of sample goodies as he works as a promoter), a small purse with money and cards, lipgloss, work and personal mobile phones.
What are your ambitions in life?
To provide Lorena with a happy, healthy, secure home-life.
Greater & sustained willpower & determination.
Move to our forever (ish) home within 3 years.
Through Made A Tea, contributing a symbiotic link between Big Pharma and so-called alternative medicine.
Regain my pre-illness body.
Author at least one book.
Run a marathon and survive.
Have a harmonious, three-generation home that provides for the needs and comforts of all household members.
Helping 100’s create an income from home or their business selling our products that are ethical, effective, affordable and meet a variety of needs.
These days my busy is not a stressful working all hours to meet deadlines or frequently flying for business with very little sleep. So, in a way I’ve reached my peak, I went as far as I wanted to go in advertising and now my only ambition is to live a stress-free life, working on my own terms and most importantly living in the moment not thinking about past or future. I’m blessed to be able to help others. Society has so many different illnesses that if I have contributed to somebody in a positive way then that’s a beautiful feeling. My ambition is to bring good health and happiness back into people lives.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
Not to squander opportunity – once gone that’s it & the potential loss is unquantifiable! The other side of the coin, being;only select those opportunities that align with my values. Thirdly, that having multiple ongoing streams of business doesn’t mean that you have no focus, but rather that you are a phenomenal multitasker with an eye for opportunity, a mind for success and a soul on fire!
Having worked in digital advertising for over 14 years for companies such as Google and Linkedin, I met inspirational and successful mentors, coaches and colleagues. I wish I’d had the foresight to stay connected and learn from these wonderful people.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Wearing a kaftan. Living in London. Navigating (daily) the challenges and possibilities of raising a teenage daughter. Brokering deals between my semi-retired husband and precocious daughter. Sipping tea. Helping others grow hugely successful businesses. Driving. Meetings with Sab around the kitchen table. Travelling at a whim. Supporting my mother to maintain her independence. Shaking my head at the foibles of world leaders. Opinionated. Financially free. As with today doing multiple daily wash loads. Pondering the meaning of life and how my existence contributes to this. Making subtle changes. Moving on…
If you’d asked me 5 years ago what I’d be doing today, it would not have been a tea lady! My illness has taken my colourful life on so many unpredictable journeys that I plan only for the week ahead and live each day as it comes, embracing all the wonderful opportunities that present themselves and enjoying the love and support I am surrounded by each and every day.
What advice would you give a food entrepreneur?
Be honest – local does not mean food that’s travelled 200 miles to get to the plate.
Minimise waste and use whatever waste for good. Poor people have palates so, feed those who would not be able to afford a meal in your restaurant!
Showcase countries, producers and those who’ve influenced the dishes that you serve.
Have communal tables in restaurants where strangers sit with strangers – that’s how you contribute to understanding between people and ultimately to world peace!
Cook for people like me who hate cooking!
What do you wish you’d known about motherhood before having kids?
You don’t have to be maternal, young or healthy to be a great mom.
I grew up in a family of six children and with four younger siblings, I was always a mini-mum so I feared motherhood would be too much hard work. As a single mum I have been blessed as I have had an army of support, my son is so much fun and very well behaved. We go everywhere together and we both love to travel and sneak off on holiday as my family always want to join but sometimes we just like some mum and son time. Motherhood has been fabulous so much more than I ever imagined.
Finally, happiness is…
Not having to ask (or be asked) whether I’m happy!
Family – we have a party every month, any occasion: birthdays, new baby, got a promotion, got fired, divorced, lost a quid and found a quid you name it and we celebrate it! And doing what I love on my own terms and changing people lives for the better, as my grandma would say ‘don’t just live for yourself but live for others, live good with people and God will keep the blessings coming’.