Brampton’s Daniel Lewis, founder and co-owner of T by Daniel with his wife Renata, recently answered some questions online about their compmay, tea, and entrepreneurship! T by Daniel is a tea shop in downtown Brampton located at 46 Main St N. Below are questions submitted by various community members online through reddit.
What’s the biggest challenge you have right now trying to balance it all? Marketing/PR/Social Media/Biz Dev?
One of the biggest challenges for me personally is I branded myself so I’m like expected to be at a lot of places at the same time, the shop, speaking engagements, and promotional events.
What are your thoughts on downtown Brampton in general? Conford
Renata: I think that downtown Brampton has a lot of potential but it needs the right leadership. It needs more vibrancy in terms of more local businesses and more events to make people from other cities interested in being here.
Daniel: The people in Brampton are great but the leadership is terrible. The leadership of Brampton has no vision whatsoever. Brampton leadership takes every day, day by day. They don’t have a future long term vision, and you can’t build a good city that way, just like a business. They don’t have any insight into the future so the future of Brampton is so bleak. The councillors of downtown Brampton are simply doing the work that’s on their desk, they aren’t asking questions, and if they do ask questions they’re not asking the right ones that would help contribute to the successful future of Brampton. Which means that the people and businesses of Brampton are giving up on Brampton.
A formula for failure, Brampton’s formula of failure is potential+procrastination= loss of potential. That’s the formula Brampton has been going by for the last few years.
What resources, info and tips do you have for someone who is looking to start their own local business in Brampton? (Not necessarily Downtown Brampton) How long did it take for you to reach your goal of opening T by Daniel from the initial idea on paper?
Daniel: Get plugged in to your local community, your family, and other business owners who are either doing what you’re doing or are running a successful business. Those three networks are usually able to give you a good perspective. Your family usually gives you the best perspective because it’s the realist and the most genuine. The governing bodies like the Board of Trades and the Business Enterprise Center can help connect you to funding and mentorship. Other business owners can really paint out the reality of doing business, both successes and failures. From those three, you’ll then have to create your own story.
To reach our goal of opening the shop took 3 years.
Does tea actually expire? qsub
There’s four enemies of tea. These four enemies will cause your tea to expire quite quickly. Air, moisture, light, and strong odors. If exposed to these enemies, it will reduce it’s shelf life and you’ll be drinking disgusting tea. However, if you keep your tea in a nice room temperature tea cabinet in air-sealed packaging most teas will be good for up to a year.
Are there any ethical concerns with the tea industry that consumers should know about? GavinTheAlmighty
Well yeah, definitely. In everything there’s good and bad, because of where tea typically originates from, sometimes the tea growers are taken advantage of, paid low wages, and forced to work in unsafe conditions, but as consumers are becoming more knowledgeable of these realities, it’s putting a much needed pressure on these companies to ensure they’re operating up to ethical standards. All of our teas are certified fair trade, and our suppliers work very closely with the tea growers to ensure their quality of life.
Your approaches to both customer service and branding are so impactful and set you apart from everyone else! What is your advice for businesses trying to make an impact like this in their markets and how do you motivate your staff to maintain this standard? And where do you get all of that energy!? It’s infectious! ukeladyparts
\Daniel: Impact has to come from a genuine desire to want to impact in a positive way. The values that T by Daniel are founded upon are real values that are close to both me and Renata’s hearts. All of our customers and the general public are seeing a display of our hearts, our thoughts, and our beliefs, poured out into every cup. This is the impact you feel.
Renata: I believe that your staff is impacted by the way that you personally treat them. If you’re genuine with your employees, and genuine with your customers, they will catch the same vision and will be inspired to do the same.
Daniel: With our staff we always focus on purpose instead of position. We help them to see why they’re doing what they’re doing, rather than focusing on just what they’re doing. So the impact is consistent.
The energy comes from the tea wink wink.
I saw you spoke at the LRT city council meetings, how do you feel now that the HMLRT is cut? How much of an impact do you think it would have had on your business (short term and long term)? I love your shop it’s my favourite in Brampton! Bobofalltrades
Daniel: Like most people feel in Brampton, especially the young people, I feel let down, but at the same time, I don’t depend on the leadership of Brampton for success. We are the leaders of our success in Brampton. Our hustle ensures our survival in Brampton, despite the decisions that the leadership makes.
Renata: It would have had a very positive impact on our business, just from the walking traffic alone from having an LRT transport hundreds of customers throughout the day. As Daniel said, the successes we’ve had without the LRT show that we’re still able to thrive.
What kind of wonderful flavours can the people of Brampton look forward to in the coming year? buttforkd
Daniel: I’m currently sitting in the Willy Wonka lab of flavour and adventure. You can expect bursts of strawberry, hints of blueberry, and drips and drops of chocolate. We’re always looking to bring out flavours that easily correlate with the times, with the seasons, the holidays, and your requests.
Also, besides the curtsy and twirl you do for newcomers, what other things or dances do you do for customers that not everyone has seen? Also also, while I know you’re not for sale have you thought of putting yourself up for rent? hythrain
Reveal yourself imposter! Muwahahaha! I’m wearing camouflage so you can’t find us.
We do our best to tailor every customers experience so if you like to whip a nay-nay, we’ll whip a nay-nay, If you like to cha-cha we’ll cha-cha. Daniel even has a secret dance called the crab available at special requests.
What is your own personal definition of “success”? hythrain
Success is a person that is rich. Rich is a person that has a keen sense of responsibility and a high regard for human life.
What was the biggest struggle you came across in trying to start your business? a1ien1ife
Renata: Living off of no sleep. It’s really hard to give your all when you’re drained, but somehow you just have to pull through.
Daniel: Because I quit my fulltime job straight out of the gate, finding a consistent way of earning an income with my startup was very difficult. Every day I had to create work for myself or else I felt like a bum.
What’s your favourite tea?
Daniel: It’s hard to say but if I had to choose probably “Canadian, Eh? Cream of Earl Grey”
Renata: It changes and right now for me it’s “Apple Strudel”
Will you ever get back into music?
What has been your most satisfying moment in business, thus far?
Daniel & Renata: Buying a home and a new car to prepare for our family, and creating job opportunities.
What book has inspired you most? (fiction or non-fiction)
Daniel & Renata: The Holy Bible, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction depends on who you ask.
If you could start your business over again from the beginning, what would you do differently? Running a business is full of good and bad decisions, but what would you say was the best decision you’ve made? ktbsto
Renata: I would have saved more of my personal money before starting the business.
Daniel: In the beginning I would have never pointed my attention to finding external distribution channels for our tea i.e cafes, retail shops, and consignment stores. I would have just focused on building our own brand and our own business from the get-go.
Daniel: My best decision was making my wife a 50-50 partner, in the business and allowing her to take a back-end leadership role in the company
Do you ever wonder how your success would have differed if you opened up shop in a different city in the GTA? a1ien1ife
Renata: Only on rainy days in downtown Brampton when I see the tumbleweeds blowing by. In another city I think the main advantages would be the walking traffic, for example downtown Toronto, or even downtown Mississauga. There are so many reasons to be in those cities, from colleges, to businesses, to transportation, to major malls in comparison to downtown Brampton. Obviously with more people walking by your store you’d gain more exposure, more customers, and more sales.
Daniel: Doing business in Brampton teaches you how to really hustle, that’s a lesson I’m not willing to bypass. They say in New York “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” But what it actually should be is “If you can make it in downtown Brampton, you can make it anywhere.” However, based on my definition on my success is, there’s an opportunity to succeed anywhere.
Everyone says don’t mix business and pleasure but for you, it seems to be working. Do you have any advice for mixing business with working with family? a1ien1ife
Renata: Your family has to really understand you and your vision.
Daniel: In all reality, there’s one you’re not going to give up on, and it’s your family. So you really need to come together and focus on making the business work. A mutual understanding of the extensive time commitment should be discussed prior.
Renata: It’s also really important to understand each other’s roles, and respect each other’s roles.
Daniel: And be accountable to each other.
Renata: Overall, respect is the key in running a smooth family business.
Where do you see T By Daniel in 10 years? Azianboy69
Renata: World Domination!
Daniel: I see T by Daniel being an internationally known experience that many will travel and come to be a part of. The growth is in the reach of the experience and not in the amount of brick-and-mortar stores.
If you had to choose one area to focus on, regardless of potential income, which would you choose? (Ex: Bow ties/fashion, tea, music, public speaking or any other interests you have) a1ien1ife
Daniel: Public speaking because it’s the best way of getting the message out and impacting.
What is the best advice you have both ever received? a1ien1ife
Just like a sling shot, our setbacks in life only propel us further in life. — Dad