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This week’s edition of Courier Weekly is supported by Wembley Park , one of London’s most exciting cultural neighbourhoods to live, work and play.
Friday 20 November

This week, we’ve launched our 10-step guide to starting a business, an interactive book to help you kickstart your dream project. We also talk to a pistachio milk pioneer in New York and a blanket entrepreneur in Sydney about their journeys into business. And, finally, we discover how to embrace a healthy attitude towards conflict.

It’s our mission at Courier to inspire small business owners to work better, live smarter and be happier. But starting a company from the ground up can feel like a huge and daunting challenge in itself. That’s why we’ve published How to Start a Business: a comprehensive 10-step guide to launching a new venture. 

From finding your big idea and doing the research, through to developing your product or service, building your brand and getting the word out, How to Start a Business is packed with expert insight, tips, case studies and key info from those in the know and those who have done it before. 

So, if you’re ready to make the move to starting your own thing – or know someone else who is – head this way to buy a copy from  our web shop .

First there was almond milk. Then there was oat – which now makes up a monster share of the alternative milk market. Is pistachio next? New York-based Roxana Saidi says 'yes'. 

Roxana is the founder of Táche , a pistachio milk brand that launched on Wednesday, which she calls the first ‘true’ pistachio milk in the US. Growing up as an Iranian-American, she remembers eating pistachios all the time – they were ‘as common of a snack as potato chips’ – and, as an adult, Roxana realised the snack was one of the only nut alternatives not being used on a massive scale in the $21.4bn dairy-free milk market

‘I was consuming copious amounts of almond milk and almond butter,’ she says on the podcast this week. ‘When I couldn’t find an almond milk latte in Europe, I had the clichéd lightbulb moment of wondering whether I could whip up pistachio milk in my kitchen.’ 

So, can pistachio milk reach the same scale as oat? Between now and 2025, the alternative milk market is expected to grow by 11% each year, and as many as a third of young people are swapping dairy out for plant-based recipes. But, for many, finding the right plant milk – both in terms of flavour and creaminess – has proved a challenge. 

Pistachio milk’s uphill battle, like any new category, will be education. Most people have never had pistachio in liquid form – they might not know what to expect – so getting baristas to become ambassadors will be the place to start.

In June this year, Lamorna Short left her full-time job to join her sister and co-founder Tamara in launching Blue Elvin , a fitness brand for women doing barbell training. They had spent 18 months developing and testing the products and finally launched in October, only to collide head first with another lockdown in the UK. ‘We’d planned product education events and pop-ups in gyms,’ Lamorna explains, ‘but with the second lockdown, the rug got pulled from under our feet.’ 

Training equipment is not only deeply personal, but needs to inherently be felt and experimented with to be tested well. Thinking on their feet, the pair launched a Blue Elvin lockdown test , selecting 10 avid barbell trainers to loan out their products to, on a trial basis. The test started this week, and here is what they’ve learned so far. 

Q. How did you decide who would test the product?
A. ‘The only requirement was that they were based in the UK and had to have a barbell at home. We had 71 women apply; we then reviewed their profiles and matched them up with the samples we had. It was also important to pick testers that had an affinity to our brand and values.’

Q. What are you hoping to get out of the test phase?
A. ‘We would love to learn about real women’s experiences of training and transformation, the psychology of fitness, and purchasing habits. It’s a chance for us to collect data, as well as to forward-plan communication with brand advocates and start building a community.’

Q. How will this phase inform what comes next for Blue Elvin? 
A. ‘It’ll be a breeding ground for new product development. Women trying our products have already asked for other types of products to enhance their training, like back protection and gloves. We’re also thinking about the frequency of testing cycles, and whether these 10 women could refer us on to other users.’


WEMBLEY PARK: BE A PART OF IT
 
Wembley Park is a growing cultural neighbourhood for London where businesses are tapping into one of the largest urban transformation projects in Europe.

As a place where people can live, eat and play within walking distance of the world-famous stadium, the neighbourhood is home to a host of global brands, independent boutiques, local makers and emerging designers.

So, whether you are a local grocer or an international fashion house, expanding to a new location or only just starting out, Wembley Park is open for business.

As a former consultant and app designer, Josh Mauldin often found himself in teams that had completely conflicting ideas of what needed to be done. ‘Sometimes everyone would stray from what the client wanted. That would send my stomach into a wreck. We needed to do something about this.’ 

Over the past few months, Josh has been running tailored online workshops on embracing conflict in the workplace and, of course, dealing with teams who are entirely dispersed. ‘The sources of conflict haven’t changed since we moved to remote work, but the volume has increased,’ he observes. ‘And then there is economic uncertainty, the pandemic, the elections and general anxieties that contribute to the tension.’

Josh highlights the things that professional teams need to look out for when they’re not working together, both to avoid conflict getting out of hand, and to find healthy balance and challenge in it. 

  • Watch how you react to messages. ‘There is a lot of capacity for misinterpretation when you use technology to communicate. Emails and Slack messages that aren’t super positive switch our survival instinct on and make us feel like someone is coming for us.’

  • Make feedback specific. ‘When we can’t rely on non-verbal cues, our brains fill in the gaps. So the feedback you ask for and hand out should be super specific. That can actually contribute to psychological safety.’ 

  • Find a common root cause. ‘When we’re working apart, we can get wrapped up in our own thoughts and what we need to succeed as individuals. Teams need to find a way to negotiate so that everyone is getting what they want. Often you have to peel back the layers to find the core issue, but empathy goes a long way at the moment.’

From our report on the sleepwear industry  to our interview with Girls’ Night In founder Alisha Ramos in our next print issue, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the rise of the homebody economy. Comfort, rest and play are all coming back into fashion. For Marc Hendrick, who founded LA-based blanket and homeware brand Slowdown Studio five years ago, it’s music to his ears: ‘People are now travelling specifically without wifi to be able to slow down,’ he says. ‘For us, rest has shaped a lot of the products we’ve expanded into.’

A blanket brand at its core, Slowdown Studio has since developed product lines in everything from beach chairs to incense. But when the pandemic first hit, it was its puzzles that were flying off the shelves. ‘That is what fuelled our growth this year,’ says Marc. ‘It’s helped us go from a garage project to now tripling our revenue and staff team.’

Collaboration with established and emerging artists is at the heart of what Slowdown Studio does. ‘How we pick our collaborators is purely aesthetic at the moment, but we’re also careful that we don’t just pick the artists with the large Instagram following. We can’t be swayed by that. Some of our collaborators are students with 500 followers.’ 

With the aesthetic question comes the issue of how to appeal to the masses. ‘You get a lot of online homeware brands that are branded similarly: they’ll have a beautiful full-screen image on their homepage, minimal branding and various hues of pink. But if you want longevity, you need to keep mixing it up. It’s important to stay a little bit edgy.’ 

1. Why a ‘culture of arrogance’  within a company can be contagious.

2. Lessons from female founders on getting a startup funded .

3. Training your brain to try new things .

4. A long road ahead for MBA diversity .

5. A cartographer’s favourite charts from the US election.

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