How I do it: Maranda Barnes

TWG Tea's co-founder tells us how she incorporates tea into her lifestyle and how she manages to find time to spend with her family

By ELLE Malaysia | Published: 28 Feb 2017

HIDI: Maranda Barnes
Photo: Maranda Barnes

I'm Maranda Barnes, avid tea connoisseur, writer and co-founder of TWG Tea, a global luxury tea brand.

I get up quite early around 6am and make myself a cup of strong black tea like our London Breakfast Tea or a single estate tea like Nuwara Eliya or Harmutty to start the day. I go online to check my emails, visit our digital boutique, and do a quick run on social media to find out what's new and trending and see what our fans are saying. I try to get eight hours of sleep but when work beckons, I do sleep late and get about five to six hours. On school days, I get my son, Adam ready and have breakfast as a family with my husband and TWG co-founder Taha [Bouqdib] . We also take time to discuss new ideas, the day's plans and where his next travels will be. I never leave home without my phone, wallet and keys!

Beauty starts from within – to start the day, I drink a lot of water and tea because of its natural antioxidant properties and boost of theine. I use a light Chanel foundation for the morning, some brightening power from MAC, a good spritz of Gard‎énia by Chanel and a dab of Dior lipstick and I'm out the door. At night, I use Caudalie facial oil – in Singapore it's so hot and humid I can get by without a conditioner!

I enjoy a tea-infused salad or smoked salmon at TWG Tea Salon, paired with a lovely white tea like White Gold Tea. For days when I crave the sweeter things in life, my favourites are our tea-infused macarons or a slice of Singapore Surprise made by our Executive Patisserie Chef Philippe. I try not to skip meals, but sometimes a busy work schedule can take over.

Photo: TWG Tea

As the brand's watchdog, I'm responsible for TWG Tea's corporate identity and branding, photography and advertising, digital strategy as well as the TWG Tea learning and development programs. My usual day starts with meeting with the Corporate Communications team to discuss ongoing projects. I usually pass by the TWG Tea Institute to share a cup of tea with our trainers and answer any questions they might have. I spend at least an hour a day with our digital team as we are expanding our business online.

I travel regularly for offsite meetings and events. When Taha is in town, I set aside lunch to catch up with him on the corporate side of the business. In the afternoon, I meet with media for tea. On creative days, I write extensively for all our teas and curate photoshoots for new products and locations. There's only 24 hours in a day with so much to accomplish! But my biggest joy is seeing the company grow within such a short span of eight years and seeing the efforts of the team to full fruition.

Photo: TWG Tea

I try to finish work around 7pm and walk home so I can spend a few hours with my son and his new puppy. I have a light dinner with a nice cup of White Night Jasmine Tea to unwind. I sometimes required to attend events in the evening and these can end quite late, so I try to keep them down to the strict minimum!


The best lesson I've ever learned on the job
When I first started learning about tea from Taha, he once told me that in order to be the best at appreciating the finer things, you have to try the best and discover for yourself the world of difference it makes.

How I overcome professional setbacks
It's important to have a very positive support structure, and to always take a step back from any setback so that you can put it into perspective. Nothing is worth losing your health over! Having a strong vision, a great team, consistency and quality are keys to our success, and the proof is in the pudding!

My secret to productivity
Staying extremely organised is key to productivity. No secret, just plenty of tea and keeping a pulse on ever-changing trends in the industry.

Best career advice anyone has ever given me
The best career advice is to be patient, and that all good things require time and consideration to mature into something exceptional – a quality integral to the world of tea since each cup should be savoured tranquilly!

Advice I would give someone aspiring to do what I do
Being hands-on is important as aspiring entrepreneurs have to play dual roles as founders and leaders. Understanding your customer and your product through and through is crucial in building a solid foundation for the company. Harnessing talents and recognising your team members is also vital as they are the ones executing the ideas and driving the business.

My motto
Do what you love and never compromise on quality!

Holiday: A holiday in the mountains with my family, away from my phone.
Day off: Diving head on into a great book, paired with a good cup of tea.
Night out: Dinner tête-à-tête with my husband or drinks with a girlfriend.


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