Getting to know you: Johnny Harris

What do you currently do?

I am a freelance personal trainer and Sports Therapist with 16 years’ industry experience. I am also the founder of T-tox, a healthy lifestyle tea company that has just launched the UK’s first blended Matcha tea aimed exclusively at those who exercise. The three blends consist of a pre-and post-exercise blend and can also be used for overall general health enhancement. 

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I believe that we don’t appreciate our health until we lose it. When I was 18, I was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus (literally too much fluid on the brain), and I needed five operations over the next two years to get the condition under control.

After spending my gap year in and out of hospital and having to leave university to undergo further operations, I put a value on my health and entered the fitness industry.

My passion is for helping people lead healthy and fulfilling lives through exercise, rehabilitation, goal setting and wellness coaching. I challenge my clients to move out of their comfort zones and to be aware of their posture, eating habits, sleep patterns and exercise routines.

I became a father nearly four years ago, which made me much more aware of my responsibilities, both financially (the need to earn a regular income) and emotionally.

Being entrepreneurially minded, I was always on the lookout for a business idea that not only gave me flexibility financially, but one that also tied in with my life-enhancing beliefs. I was drawn to Matcha green powdered tea as the health benefits are widely recognised as well as scientifically proven. 

Who do you admire?

My parents have both experienced ill health over the years and their ability to deal with the situations they faced and remain great parents is a great inspiration to me.

I also admire entrepreneurs who take action and decide to be their own boss. The risks for small start-up businesses are high, but so are the rewards.

What defines your way of business?

Being able to listen both to customers and to mentors. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, I am willing to learn from each experience to better serve my clients.

Your health is what matters most to us. If you choose to drink our teas, chances are you will put some thought into the way you carry yourself, the food you eat, the sleep you get and the activity you participate in. Scientifically proven, it’s a state of awareness that we actively seek to promote.

We aim to make life easier. We know that people lead busy lives so we have a glass shaker designed for on-the-go preparation and consumption. The added bonus is that they maximize taste, maintain ambient temperature and contains none of the toxins that some plastic bottles have. Our teas will soon be available in single serving sachets for added convenience.

Grasp every opportunity. I was fortunate enough to take part in a CNBC TV show called Pop Up Start Up aired early this year, in collaboration with Alibaba Group. Each episode pitched two start-up businesses against each other for a £20,000 prize. As part of the eight week filmed journey, I negotiated terms, got a good price and quality promise on their b2b marketplace, Alibaba.com, which connects sellers and manufacturers to buyers around the world. I also got to visit my factory in China. This was a unique experience not open to most start-ups as I was able to develop a strong business relationship with my suppliers. Alibaba.com has been instrumental in connecting businesses around the world to trade more globally and find trustworthy, high quality suppliers.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

Listen to your gut instincts. I have made many mistakes along the way. Right at the start, I was recommended a packaging supplier which proved ineffective, and looking back if I had gone with my gut and sought alternatives, I would have saved myself a six-month setback.

Never lose sight of your goals and have contingency plans. I rushed into buying some tins from Japan which were five times the cost of those in China, and to make matters worse, they leaked when filled and almost a quarter of the tins were so damaged they were unusable. Now I source through Alibaba.com, I have peace of mind knowing the suppliers I am in touch with through the marketplace are reliable, high quality, and most importantly long-term partners.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

Surround yourself with the right people. Your net-work is your net-worth.

Take action on everything you learn and don’t be afraid to make mistakes – learn from them and become better for it.

Acknowledge your weak areas and focus on your strengths. Get help with areas you aren’t confident in.

And finally, if you believe you have a great idea, don’t listen to those that might say it’s not possible – you can’t achieve anything without trying – go for it!

About Business Matters

Business Matters staff