Ruby Slipper Review: Emma & Tom’s LifeJuice @ The Hive

Yesterday evening Ruby Slipper and Kreatrix attended another quality session run by The Hive at The Order of Melbourne. The featured entrepreneur this month was Tom Griffith from Emma & Tom’s Lifejuice.

The Hive events are always a terrific forum to meet Melbourne’s brightest and most interested networkers in marketing and communications. I happily grabbed my drinkie and began to chat away, before listening to the interesting and quietly confident Tom Griffith. Tom began by discussing his corporate career prior to Emma and Tom’s, and noted that neither Emma nor himself were what we’d traditionally conceive of as ‘entrepreneurs’. Tom previously worked for the NAB, UK supermarket chain Tesco, and also consulted on a UN board post the first stage of the Iraq War. Varied, right? 

Prior to beginning Emma and Tom’s, there was a full year of home research on the product itself as well as its packaging. More than just the product however, Tom noted that they needed to spend time clearly articulating their ‘brand positioning’. Emma and Tom’s position included concept such as ‘straight up’, ‘alive’, ‘healthy’ and ‘happy’. This is probably a great time to sit down and think about where your own business brand sits. Ruby Slipper’s key concept is ‘magic’ – tell us what your brand position is?

Tom spoke about how it is important for their brand to keep things authentic, and for both himself and Emma to do things as personally as possible. Initially they did a lot more outsourcing with their brand, which they found contrary to their own brand position. They also like to have firm and friendly relationships with the (often boutique) cafes and restaurants that sell their brand. This not only makes it harder for competing brands to get a foothold in their position, but it reconfirms to their customers (ie shopkeepers) that Emma and Tom’s are committed to small business success. Creating a fresh food product, it can be difficult for them to be able to predict exactly the amount of juices to produce consistently. When they have over-runs, Emma and Tom’s donate drinks to the Second Bite programme at the Prahran Market, and also sponsor fun runs. What kind of corporate event could your brand be aligned to? You will begin to see some further diversified Emma and Tom’s products in supermarkets, including muesli bars. You’ll also see them in the sky as they are beginning a co-brand with Virgin and Luke Mangan.

In the question time after Tom’s brief speech, one punter asked about the business relationship Emma and Tom share. Tom remarked that he receives a lot of feedback from Emma (as well as the other notable females in his life ie wife, daughters, mother, sisters)!  They are ultimately a good business pairing, and they compliment each other’s strengths (and mask each other’s weaknesses).  Tom refers to himself as the ‘muppet’ – but Ruby Slipper beg to disagree. Thankyou for your time Tom, and what an interesting business journey.

And for all us ‘little businesses’ out there – it’s comforting to know that a successful business relies on one component primarily – that one’s called hard work with persistence! Keep at it everyone.

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