Photo by Yan Pekar.
I grew up in Ascot, Berkshire. The town is famous for its racecourse; it’s where the annual Royal Ascot races take place, attended by the British Royal Family. That was never really my scene, though. I preferred the summers we spent on the coast of Devon, where my brother and I relished the variety of watersports available to us.
When I was 18, I moved to London for university. I received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American studies from King’s College London. That’s when I really fell in love with Spain and the culture. I also spent a year abroad in Mexico, which gave me an even greater connection to the language. I then switched my focus and studied for a graduate degree from BPP Law School.
I converted to law because of John Grisham. Reading his books full of lawyers and law firms, courtrooms and legal intrigue, I thought it would basically be like that. And there were certain bits that were as suspenseful and riveting as the tales he weaves.
My career in law was about as good as any law career can get. I travelled the world, and at one point I transferred to the music industry, working with everyone from artists and writers to managers and record labels. I dealt with people fighting over who actually wrote a specific song, people trying to protect their reputation and things like that. As exciting as it was, however, I always wanted to do something else.
I moved to Barcelona a year and a half ago to create the Kailani Ice Tea brand. Barcelona was appealing to me in many ways. It’s an international city, but it’s not huge. There are beaches, good food and it’s easy to fly back to London anytime I want. Then there was the added bonus that I already spoke Spanish fairly well, making it easier to adapt.
Coming from London, the culture here is very different, which made starting a business interesting. Everything you love in your personal life—the slow pace of the city, how chilled everyone is, endless meals of multiple courses—is sort of infuriating in your business life, especially when you want to get things going as quickly as possible. You have to learn to take things as they come when you move to a new place.
Before Kailani, I had no experience in setting up my own company and knew nothing about Spanish bureaucracy. At first, I collaborated with a number of people to get the company off the ground, but since then it’s really just been me. I have to use different parts of my brain from when I was a lawyer—for things like design concepts, marketing strategies and distribution procedures—but there are still some tactics I rely on from those days, such as persuasion and negotiation. My work now isn’t as academic or intellectual, I suppose, but it’s challenging in different ways.
I think as people grow up and get absorbed in their careers, they often lose their creativity. In many professions, there just isn’t space for it—well-paid jobs aren’t usually the most exciting. Now I’m inspired by my work, and I try not to care that I don’t make as much money as I used to.
The idea of creating an iced tea brand came from a mixture of motives. I was accustomed to everyone constantly drinking hot tea in England, and iced tea is more fitting to Barcelona’s climate. There’s also been a recent boom in transforming drink staples into something trendier. Artisanal beer, for example, is everywhere. So I wanted to provide a version of iced tea that is better than anything the big corporations are selling.
Any iced tea brand is going to be biased towards the summer. And Hawaii is always one of the first places that comes to mind when I think of year-round summer, sun and surfing. That’s how we came up with the name—kailani means ‘sea and sky’ in Hawaiian. The brand image expanded from there. We want Kailani Ice Tea to be associated with those long, hot days spent having fun at the beach. The name also has an overall sense of well-being in Polynesia, which is what we want people to get from drinking our iced tea.
Nowadays, people want to be healthier, without sucking the pleasure out of life. Kailani has no added sugar and contains less than 50 calories per bottle, but it still tastes good. At the moment we have the classic black tea with lemon flavour, and green tea with lemon and ginger, which is good for those who don’t normally drink iced tea. Kailani is also produced entirely in Spain, with pure spring water from Galicia.
I live in Barceloneta. Moving here from London, it was always my intention to live close to the beach. Occasionally, when there are waves, I go surfing. Otherwise, I do a lot of paddle surfing and running on the sand. I try to live the life of a Kailani drinker, soaking up the sun and good vibes, and using nature to support a healthy lifestyle.