Interview with TLC
Describe your business to us? TLC is an organically grown food delivery business with a strong focus on ‘clean’ eating. ‘Clean’ eating indicates that there are no hidden additives or artificial flavors added in our meals. It means that we know where our meats/fish are coming from and only use products that do not use antibiotics to enhance growth – i.e. no ‘hidden nasties’.
TLC continually does research to ensure we’re working with trusted suppliers to source the highest quality ingredients. We are the first in HK to provide our customers with high protein meals, paired with seasonal and/or organic vegetables. We only include good fats in our meals; namely coconut oil, NZ avocado oil, olive oils, etc.
What was your inspiration to start the business?
TLC originally started with our passion for good quality food and clean eating. We both suffered stomach problems in our first few years of living in Hong Kong, due to the lack of easily accessible clean and quality foods. We found our search for clean foods to be both money and time costly. Our lifestyles have been significantly changed for the better through "clean eating".
We have both come from a busy corporate job; working long hours, and we struggled to find "clean" food. Back home, it was effortless and not something we had to worry about. People invest so much time and money with training and fitness, but forget about the importance of nutrition to get results.
Tessa has always had her fitness down pat, however, has been one to always struggle with her nutrition. She was fortunate enough to have met some influential people in the fitness industry, and as a result, she started cooking for herself. Through "clean" and regular eating, she lost >6% body fat, gained strength and most importantly, feels better than she ever has! Training and being educated on nutrition at Ultimate Performance resulted in a major turnaround in getting results.
Ultimately, this is how TLC came into fruition – it grew organically, with more and more people asking where our food was coming from, so we decided to share our passion (and food!) so we could have a positive impact on people's lives through providing easily accessible "clean" meals.
How long did it take you to setup your business? What was involved?
We both wanted to set up a business around food 2 years ago. Initially, we wanted to affiliate with New Zealand, our home, and good food. Over time, we saw a large gap in the Hong Kong market for "clean" and high quality protein meals.
What was involved - general business registration, speaking to multiple suppliers from all over the world to align with our TLC concept, working with designers to design our packaging, corporate image and website (currently still work in progress), finding a sizeable kitchen space (all thanks to Tessa's boyfriend who located our commercial kitchen space after having a fantastic meal there), recruitment, logistics.
What excites you most about your business?
Our impact on people's lives and people seeing results through “clean”, healthy, regular eating; being able to provide customers with "clean" meals that are convenient, easily accessible and can be eaten worry free, knowing that it has come from an ethical business.
Where do you source ingredients from?
The majority of our meats and condiments currently come from New Zealand and Australia. We only work with trusted suppliers who are aligned with our values around running an ethical business.
Where do you make your product?
In the Kitchen Sync commercial kitchen in Sheung Wan.
How many employees do you have?
Currently just the 2 of us! We wake up to get to the kitchen at 5:00AM every morning to ensure our meals get to our clients on time. You might also run into us doing deliveries as well! We are fully committed to TLC and, as with any new business, we are trying to offer the best possible food and service whilst keeping our costs under control. We already have a waiting list for our meals though, so are currently in the process of expanding our team - hiring a Chef and extra kitchen staff.
How are you funded? If you can provide a general number, example "Under $200,000 HKD"
This number is fluid, as the demand has been so high that it seems as though we’re constantly purchasing new equipment and our signature tiffin boxes to keep up with demand! We have invested quite a bit in personal funds to date to make our dream come true.
What were/are your biggest challenges?
To enter into any business, it is important to have found a trusted partner, and there will always be highs and lows. To succeed, you will require passion, resilience and perseverance. We are fortunate to have had each other’s support throughout the entire process.
The core root of our business is a result of our determination to get this business up and running without letting the amount of work needed to make it successful get us down, despite all the obstacles. We have both quit our jobs and are excited about what the future holds for TLC!
Who are your go to business mentor(s) in HK?
Our boyfriends, Graham Mountford and Kai Yuen; Lori & Patrick Granito, from Kitchen Sync; also family and friends, with their continual encouragement, giving of ideas and experience. The help we’ve had from all of them is endless and we are grateful for their support. Mentors are important as they inspire and give you the confidence to follow your ideas through.
Who does your marketing? PR? Web Design? Can you recommend any vendors you enjoy(ed) working with?
Tessa was fortunate enough a few years ago, whilst visiting Beijing, to have come across an inspiring designer - Tessa approached him about this idea when we were starting out and he loved it! As a result he joined TLC, created our branding, website (which is still a work in progress) and corporate designs etc. He is great for TLC as he listens and designs his ideas around our concept.
How do you promote your business online and offline?
We are still in our infant stages; we have grown organically and are currently supplying our food on demand. We already have a waiting list! Our current customers have all been through referrals, word of mouth and most recently, the display of our packaging.
We will definitely be leveraging off all social media, our website etc. once we are officially launched.