“It's not all doom and gloom for small businesses” says local West Drayton business owner John Wombwell.
John runs a Tha tea business called Daokrajai Lanna Fine Teas which he says recognises the true power of Thai tea.
Working directly with a tea-growing estate in Thailand, John sells his tea worldwide and has started making waves across the globe.
John last spoke to getwestlondon in early 2015 , when his business was in its infancy, so we caught up with him to see how Daokrajai Lanna is getting on.
'Such a nice feather in my cap'
“It's been a rollercoaster of a year and as with any any start-up it's all out of my own pocket.”
“There have been dark days and good days but overall it has been a success.”
John says that Daokrajai Lanna has already made a massive impact on fellow tea lovers in the past year, with a big interest at events such as Taste of London and the Thailand Festival.
“There was a lot of interest so I sent an email to Fortnum & Mason.
“It had been two weeks after sending them samples so I gave them a call to see how things were going and he said the tea was wonderful and that the tea will start being served.
“This is such a nice feather in my cap and conversation has already started regarding quantities in store.”
The Thai tea selection will soon be sold on shelves in Fortnum & Mason and in the tea room.
James Jobling, head of tea at Rington's, who supply the store with teas said: “We are very pleased to have engaged with John and Daokrajai as we feel the story of the estate is very endearing and the teas themselves are showing great quality.
“We have not visited ourselves as this is very early days, but we have found John's passion and enthusiasm for the area, people and the tea to be of great interest.
“We try and engage with interesting niche tea producers to showcase the most exciting and craft teas in the world, brought together at Fortnum's tea counter. Some teas will make guest appearances whilst others prove so popular that we have to look to stock them all year round.
“The Daokrajai teas are now with us and are awaiting their space on the Fortnum's shelves, which should be very soon as other teas run out and make way for them. I'm confident that the customers will really enjoy trying these exciting new teas.”
Daokrajai Lanna joins forces with breast cancer charities
Not only is Daokrajai Lanna Fine Teas getting industry recognition, John has also set up a new charity campaign as part of his business.
After the untimely death of his younger sister in 2014 to breast cancer, John started a campaign to raise money for breast cancer charities, to help alert and educate women of the symptoms of the disease so they can self-diagnose and seek treatment sooner and not suffer the same fate as his sister.
“Carol died about 20 months ago and was younger than me, it came as quite a shock, when something like that happens you just want to do something.
“When in Thailand last April I met a guy who turned mango wood into nice gifts, so we discussed turning the mango wood into tea caddys."
John has started selling the tea caddies for charity, with 30% of the sale of the specially designed and handmade caddies automatically donated to selected charities.
The charities are based in UK and USA as he says breast cancer does not care about the nationality of its victims.
Two charities are said to already be signed up to receive donations with a further five in the process, including those in South Africa and Australia.
Mr Wombwell continued: “Daokrajai Lanna is still not paying its way, I'm still walking and i'm not trying to run yet but this year I believe I'll be successful!
“I'm still having to struggle with financing the company, but everything is so good, what with Fortnum & Mason - that's an ostrich feather, not a pigeon feather in my cap.
“The fact that these people, professional tea people, said that my tea is excellent, it's a fantastic positivity boost, I'm so hopeful.”