Today, I’m super excited to share with you guys an interview with one of my favourite internet friends – Tom. Tom runs a blog, youtube channel and vegan business at tomfromspiced.com. Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind Tom’s business and what it’s like to be a young, vegan business owner. I’m sure you’re all going to enjoy getting to know Tom as much as I did ▷►▹▸
Q: How did your vegan journey start, what were your main inspirations and influences?
A: Ever since I can remember I’ve had pets and as such I’ve always called myself an animal lover. However as I got older I started to become aware of how hypocritical this was given that I was eating meat and so for a couple of years I was in the position of knowing I should go vegetarian but not following through on it. Then one day in 2011 I was chatting to my brother Rob when he said I should go vegetarian, so I did! And veganism naturally followed last year when I once again realised I couldn’t call myself an animal lover and environmentalist when I was consuming animal products.
In terms of inspiration and influence it’s unquestionably my aforementioned brother. He went vegetarian at 8 which I have huge respect for as he was constantly bullied at school for it and it takes a lot of conviction at that age to persevere with what you believe in. He went vegan at 19 and looking back I’m annoyed I didn’t join him sooner!
Q: That’s so cool that your brother inspired you to go vegan and that has now led to you starting your own vegan business! Tell us all about your business Spiced! and how you became a small, vegan business owner.
A: I sell handmade spice pastes that contain no gluten or oil. They’re currently available in three varieties – Caribbean (with sweet allspice & nutmeg), North African (with zingy cayenne pepper) and South Indian (with tangy tamarind) – although I have plans for more in future!
After I graduated in 2013 I took a well-earned break, got (and left) a part-time job and generally spent a lot of time trying to think what to do with my life. Then in early 2014 I watched a cooking programme which had a segment about home food businesses and I thought I’d give it a go. Initially I thought I’d just be testing the waters to see if it was viable but once I started I really wanted to see if I could make a career of it and here I am!
Q: That’s awesome, I bet you’re so glad now that you took a chance on your idea! Have you got any tips for someone hoping to start up their own vegan business?
A: I still consider myself fairly clueless about business (which is one of the beauties of it; you’re constantly learning) but if I had to offer three tips they would be:
- Find people who will give you honest feedback. That way when they say your product’s good you know it’s good!
- Get involved in the vegan community. Whether it be online or in real life there is an amazing community of friendly, passionate and supportive vegans and vegan business owners out there. Twitter chats in particular are a great way to find them!
- Sell at vegetarian/vegan events rather than general markets. I’ve done four days at my local market and they went quite poorly which – without wanting to sound arrogant – I think was largely due to it not being my target market at all.
Q: Great tips, it’s definitely important to find the right target market for your product! Speaking of your awesome products, what’s your favourite recipe to cook with spiced! products?
A: Probably a tagine that I make with my North African paste. It’s one of the first recipes I ever made when I started cooking and it’s survived to this day!
Q: As well as being a small business owner, you also blog and have a YouTube channel, what kind of videos do you share with your audience?
A: All sorts! Everything from books and music to health and fitness to recycling and the vegan lifestyle. I’ve been on a little break from blogging and YouTube recently in order to focus on other areas of the business but I’ll hopefully be back to producing regular content soon!
Q: I think it’s really admirable that as well as blogging/vlogging/running your own business, you volunteer as an assistant camp leader at teen vgn summer camp. If you could give one piece of advice to a young person who wants to go vegan what would it be?
A: I think my general advice to anyone wanting to go vegan is that it doesn’t have to be an overnight process; even the smallest change is having a positive impact! For example before I went fully vegan I swapped from cow’s milk to soya milk and whenever I did baking it was always vegan. If it takes you a couple of years to transition that’s ok because for something like this which is such a fundamental part of your life you have to be doing it because you truly believe in it.
Tom with his adorable cat Bobby
Q: Since going vegan I have experienced so many amazing health benefits; what positive effects has adopting the vegan diet had on you?
A: Honestly I haven’t really noticed any because I was eating almost entirely vegan for well over a year when I was vegetarian. Rather the biggest health improvements in my life have come from generally eating a lot more healthily, eating more quantity-wise and exercising regularly.
I guess you could equate my love of vegetables and healthy eating with my transition to veganism, but I think it’s actually a bit of a misconception that veganism automatically equates to being healthy. It’s certainly possible to have a very unhealthy lifestyle and be vegan!
Q: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would you choose?
A: If we’re looking at this purely from a taste rather than health or nutritional perspective then I would have to say (assuming it counts as a meal) cereal. I’ve loved it my entire life and I consider myself to be somewhat of a connoisseur!
Tom cuddling up to kitty number 2 – Tiny
Q: Describe a day in the life of Tom.
A: Obviously it varies depending on the day but a lot of my time is spent on my laptop doing business-related things, whether it be sending and replying to e-mails, running my social media accounts, thinking of new ideas for content or working on my website. Moving forward I’ll hopefully be spending a lot more time at vegan events, meeting customers and selling face to face!
Outside of the business I listen to a ton of music, I try to read every day and I lift weights twice a week. I also love American football but sadly the NFL season doesn’t start again until September!
Q: Do you have a favourite inspirational quote to leave us with?
A: Whilst I am a bit of a sucker for inspirational quotes I don’t know if I have a personal favourite! However, if I had to pick something to leave you with then ‘treat others how you’d like to be treated’ is a mantra I try my best to abide by. It’s so obvious and simple and if everyone did their best to act on it I think the world would be an infinitely nicer place to live!
Sophie the cat who is too cool to pose with humans!
Thank you so much Tom for sharing your story with us. Be sure to check out Tom’s website: tomfromspiced.com where you can read his blog, watch his videos and buy Spiced! products ♥