Episode Eighteen: Squirrel Sisters

Episode Eighteen: Squirrel Sisters

Often the most authentic businesses come from solving problems that you have to face already. Such is the caring foundation from which the siblings behind Squirrel Sisters, Gracie and Sophie Tyrrell, grew their award-winning, no added sugar snack brand.

Gracie’s love of baking sugar-free alternatives to Sophie’s favourite snacks birthed a business 6 years strong, with products you’ll find in Waitrose and Holland & Barrett.

The road’s not been easy though – listen to this week’s episode of It Runs In The Family to hear the blood-boiling hurdles they’ve overcome, from running a lean operation and punching with the big brands, to boldly walking away from insolent investors.

This episode covers:
● Converting a hobby into an exciting, growing business
● Transitioning from seeing each other as siblings to Co-Founders too
● The shocking gender issues they’ve overcome just to break into the market
● Drawing & blurring the line between work and home life

Episode Highlights

“What we discovered after a lot of trial and error is that sugar was making me ill; I would have the tiniest bit of sugar in Ketchup or something, and it set me back so much, I would get really exhausted with a lot of inflammation and felt horrendous. So Gracie made it her mission to get me better.” – 2:40 – Sophie Tyrrell

“We’ve always really enjoyed baking, but it hasn’t been on the healthy side until Sophie discovered this heart condition. We didn’t really realise the detrimental effect that sugar can actually have on your body with things like inflammation, until Sophie started to get these reactions. So it was at that point that I started researching sugar and the different ingredients in products, particularly health products.” – 4:35 – Gracie Tyrrell

“We really set up the blog for ourselves to post what we find interesting and create recipes, then we gained an engaged following quite quickly. I think people connected to the fact that we were honest, we weren’t preaching unrealistic lifestyles. Also we have a genuine authentic story as well, so people really connected to that – it was at that point we started to see an opportunity to make the Squirrel Sisters blog into something bigger.” – 8:30 – Gracie Tyrrell

“When someone in your family has a scare, you realise that very little in life is actually that important. At the end of the day, we love what we’re doing and we’re very passionate about the business, but it’s not going to end the world if we don’tsell a snack bar today.” – 15:45 – Gracie Tyrrell

“One of the investors ‘joked’ and basically said ‘Can we put into the contract that if Sophie goes off the rails as a mother, I’ll get my money back?’. Essentially what he meant by that is mocking postnatal depression and the chance that could happen, that she would just basically get obsessed with her children and she wouldn’t want to continue with the business. So we pulled out of that the next day.” – 21:50 – Gracie Tyrrell

“For a small business, it really is about persistence. We’ve had a challenge with budgets, and we haven’t had the investment that a lot of bigger retailers do expect. We’re really proud of how many retailers we have got into as a team of just two without having investment, because it is really difficult. ” – 29:10 – Gracie Tyrrell

“If one of us really strongly believes in something then we’ll look into it. It might be that we can’t make something without sugar, or it’s too expensive if we want to sell it at a certain price point. There haven’t been any conflicts, and I think we wouldn’t ever want there to be.” – 34:55 – Sophie Tyrrell

“When we do launch into retailers, when we see our products on the shelf, that’s really exciting. It doesn’t actually get old, going into a shop and seeing your own product.” – 45:55 – Gracie Tyrrell

“Nothing is really more important than your relationship, and actually the situation that happened most recently really made that so clear. Obviously, there’s gonna be really difficult times, real highs and lows, and you will definitely
have moments where you feel stressed with each other as well. But at the end of the day for me, nothing is more important than that.” – 51:25 – Gracie Tyrrel

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Episode Seventeen: Waterside Holiday Group

Episode Seventeen: Waterside Holiday Group

Key to any team around a family business is a shared appreciation for the values that are inherent to those raised within the bloodline, which makes the rigorous process of hiring a CEO for a family-run brand exponentially more important.

Thankfully, Olivia and Miranda Jacobs – Directors of Waterside Holiday Group, working alongside their sister Claire and mother Judith – have been well-attuned to the values held so dear by their late father. The sense of connection and care from both staff and visitors to the park has been so vital to the warm, welcoming atmosphere at each of their parks.

Joining us on this week’s episode of It Runs In The Family, the duo discuss how they’ve nurtured this long-lasting culture, the steep learning curve that they overcame with the sudden involvement with the business, and the strong sense of pride that’s driven them every step of the way.

This episode covers:
● Finding top staff that exude your family values
● The history and progression of Waterside’s parks from their humble beginnings
● Handling sudden responsibility & a steep learning curve
● The sense of parental pride that drives so many family businesses, even when they’re no longer with us
● Carefully creating a noble legacy to hand down

Episode Highlights

“Our dad died very suddenly, which was a great shock to the family, and we weren’t in any way ready. He was about to start inducting us into the business, we’d had one big meeting, then he got ill. We were thrust into it quite suddenly, and we were mourning too. I’m not sure I had something to prove to anyone other than my dad, really. I was going ‘Yes dad, I’m going to make you proud’, and that still pushes me today.” – 5:40 – Miranda Jacobs

“We are putting our own stamp on it, but with a view to the generations. It’s so important to us that those values – and I think it comes down to values – carry on through, and we are heavily inducting our children into those values. They are smothered in it!” – 9:10 – Miranda Jacobs

“Our first big appointment was our new CEO, who came from many, many years in leisure. He is terrific. What we really liked about him in the interview and what shone -apart from his brilliant abilities and knowledge of the holiday home industry, which we needed as we knew very little – his values are very similar to ours.” – 16:30 – Miranda Jacobs

“We have some gut instincts, I like to think, and in the end the decisions have to feel right. But we are backed up now by a huge amount of data. Data is a hugely, hugely important part of what we do, and helps us make the decisions about growth.” – 20:50 – Miranda Jacobs

“Some of our owners have been on-park for 40+ years, and they talk about when they came with their parents, and then now they’re bringing their children and it’ll even be their grandchildren soon. It’s an amazing feeling to hear that warmth of connection, and long may it continue.” – 25:40 – Olivia Jacobs

“We have become television addicts, screen addicts, and it’s so nice to see kids playing in the playground, and three generations of the family all uniting together, doing things together and being active together.” – 41:15 – Olivia Jacobs

“The first thing we said was that if we find that this is getting in the way of our relationship with each other, then we will sell it, because the business is not as
important as our relationship. That’s underneath everything we do.” – 49:10 – Miranda Jacobs

“Something we learned from that study of our characters is that I am not big on regrets. If I’ve made a mistake, I’m quite good at moving on. I think it’s usually a
positive thing.” – 1:01:26 – Miranda Jacobs

Listen to this podcast episode on Apple, Spotify, Google or Amazon

Episode Sixteen : Finnmark Sauna

Episode Sixteen : Finnmark Sauna

The sibling dynamic is one laden with turbulence, care, and connection in equal measure. Developing the level of emotional intelligence and maturity to translate this family partnership into a business one requires remarkable growth and evolution – the ‘Sauna Twins’ behind Finnmark Sauna are a perfect exhibition of exactly that.

Finnmark Sauna’s Max & Jake Newport are the Director of Design & MD behind the venture honouring Finnish sauna culture through their passionate love of the practice. The pair join us this week to discuss the values that drive the industry-leading team, their appreciation for holistic wellbeing, and how the twins connect to their business’ mission & successes.

This episode covers:

  • Adjusting from a standard sibling relationship to forming a business partnership
  • How Finnish culture inspires Jake & Max’s drive to deliver the experiences that they themselves enjoy
  • The down-to-earth involvement that sees the twins muck in anywhere within the business
  • Encountering the difficult challenges that come with rapidly outgrowing their initial processes

Episode Highlights

“A lot of siblings are very similar and so there’s a clash of similar personalities, whereas Max and I are two very, very different people. We have two very different sets of skills, which lend ourselves to operating two quite distinct arms of the business.” – 5:10 – Jake Newport

“We both ended up trying a real sauna and just thinking this is so different from everything that we have here in the UK, so much more enjoyable, so much more relaxing.” – 13:10 – Jake Newport

“If something happens, if there’s a problem on our site, then the first thing Max will do is ask, ‘Do I need to go and get hands on with the guys on site?’” – 21:20 – Jake Newport

“When I’m winning, my brother is winning too. It’s a really fulfilling feeling to know that every time I progress, or Jake progresses, we progress as a pair of people, as a family, and you could extrapolate that metaphor for the whole Finnmark team.” – 29:00 – Max Newport

“There are a few times when you’re growing very quickly and you’ve spent some time building a process, and by the time you implement the process, you’ve grown so fast that it’s redundant. That’s just the most exhausting thing.” – 42:47 – Jake Newport

“If you look at where you’re going, break it down into steps, work through the checklist, you will get there. If you just stand still and you feel sorry for yourself, then you’re still going to be feeling sorry for yourself tomorrow and the next day.” – 46:35 – Jake Newport

“I’m a firm believer that you always pay for education; you either pay a university or a college, or you pay for it in the mistakes that you make, and you learn from them.” – 56:25 – Jake Newport


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Episode Fifteen: Scrumbles

Episode Fifteen: Scrumbles

Our pets feel as much a family member as any of the bonds we’ve been lucky enough to see in this series, so for Aneisha Soobroyen and Jack Walker – partners in wedlock and Co-Founders of natural pet food business Scrumbles – their business is a family affair in more ways than one…

Parents to Smudge and Boo, the husband and wife team join us on the podcast to share tips on how to balance a relationship with responsibilities within the business, their status as one of the first pet companies in the UK to certify as a B Corp, and the incredible tale of how they turned down an offer on Dragons’ Den in a single look…

This episode covers:

  • Working with animals from personal experience with their own furry friend
  • Splitting responsibilities and covering whatever needs to be done
  • The remarkable story behind turning down an offer on Dragons’ Den
  • Advice for couples going into business for the first time
  • Benefits of becoming a certified B Corp

Episode Highlights

“We were definitely gonna get stuck into something together, but we weren’t sure what it would be. At one point, there was an idea for a pet shop that came around a few times. But it was when Boo was poorly and we had that real acute problem, and had to find a solution. That was the real step change of: ‘This is it. This is what we’ve been looking for. Let’s take the leap now.’” – 4:05 – Jack Walker

“In terms of roles and responsibilities, there are some things that are very fixed, and then there’s some things where the lines are blurring.” – 8:10 – Jack Walker

“I really enjoyed the Dragons’ Den experience. You don’t get to see a lot of the interactions with the dragons but they’re all really interesting people with a lot to say. I’ve got a soft spot for Touker – they always edit him to look horrible, but he’s so charismatic and sweet. And we really enjoyed the experience, we got a lot of exposure too. ” – 13:55 – Aneisha Soobroyen

“There are lots of long sleepless nights and heart panics in the middle of it. But we just kept going at it. We kept getting rejected a lot by people with some real brutal feedback from some people. But we just kept pursuing it and pestering people. Then you found people that were looking for exactly what we were offering, and they followed us on that journey.” – 17:20 – Aneisha Soobroyen

“Being husband and wife, and working the hours we do, it’s difficult to separate work from personal life. I’m bad because boss Jack’s switched off, and I then keep bringing him back in at 11pm as he’s drifting off to sleep!” – 24:30 – Aneisha Soobroyen

“Once you’ve gone into business, you can’t really go out of it. So see that you can attack smaller projects first. Jack and I did a house up together, and that was quite difficult. It was all new to us and we saw how we dealt with pressure and stress and different things like that first.” – 29:05 – Aneisha Soobroyen

“I think we do a good job now environmentally, and that’s part of how we’ve certified as a B Corp, but there’s always so much more to do and there’s new things that are emerging every day. So we want to make sure that we’re on top of that and doing right by our furry babies, but also by the planet as well.” – 42:28 – Aneisha Soobroyen

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Episode Fourteen : Arbikie Distillery

Episode Fourteen : Arbikie Distillery

The Arbikie Estate is home to craftsmen of soil and curators of a fine ensemble of drinks from their distillery, now in its 7th year of producing sustainable, field-to-bottle spirits.

Iain Stirling, one of three visionary brothers behind their venture, joins us on this episode of It Runs In The Family to discuss the story behind their 400 year family farming history, how a drink in New York sowed the seeds for their own foray into spirits, and the incredible father whose name is shared by AK’s Gin – contributing to 2018’s winner of the World’s Best Martini award…

This episode covers:

  • Combining assorted family experiences to create an innovative extension to the Stirlings’ existing farm
  • Working with family as a choice through intrinsic trust
  • Producing award-winning gin, Scotland’s first potato vodka, and the world’s only Scotch Rye Whiskey
  • Carrying on the legacy written by parents as custodians of their land
  • Treating the team as family, and letting them thrive in their area of expertise
  • The value to the Stirling family of maintaining the sustainability of field-to-bottle production

Episode Highlights

“It’s surprising we didn’t think of it earlier, the light bulb did eventually come on. We had the buildings and ingredients. I worked in the drinks industry for Whyte & Mackay, Jim Beam brands, Diageo, and we also had a marketing business that worked with William Grant’s which is a family distilling business. We know a lot of the people there, we know the family, and those relationships continue.” – 5:55 – Iain Stirling


“The journey we did and the learning that we did in other businesses and then having the marketing business, and then realising we had most of the key elements for setting up a distillery – it still surprises me how long it took us to get there. But it’s a big jump to set up a brand new business in a space that I knew, but John and David didn’t.” – 12:45 – Iain Stirling


“It’s a really, really nice feeling to be able to build on what mum and dad did over their career. We are custodians of the land we’ve got now, and we feel that because it’s who we are. But also distillery is another legacy business to pass on to next generations.” – 16:40 – Iain Stirling


“I choose to be in business with my brothers. I don’t have to be as I’ve worked with corporate businesses. It’s just such a rewarding thing to work with family, and you’ve got instinctive trust. I think trust is the element that’s most important.” – 29:40 – Iain Stirling


“If we employ distillers we let them distill, and we’re not interfering with that. I was joking with a friend about doing this podcast and thinking you’ll start asking me distilling questions, and I know very little about distilling. We’ve got very good distillers and that’s what they do. I knew enough about it and I knew what I wanted at the end, but ultimately in terms of distilling, there’s years of learning both for Kirsty and for Christian.” – 37:40 – Iain Stirling


“I think for anyone like Jim who worked as our foreman for over 35 years, you have to be doing something right for people to want to work for you for that amount of time. That’s a long time. I think he got his 30 year medal recently, and he probably deserves a medal for working with our family. But they run it as a family business, so they treat the people as family.” – 41:12 – Iain Stirling


“The farm is essential because you know doing that field to bottle the growing distilling maturing all in one space the farming set the farm is essential for that you know there’s there’s a range of next generation who are all fairly young just now all this being about 21 but they will come the opportunities are there” –  – Iain Stirling


“The farm is essential because for doing field-to-bottle, growing, distilling and maturing all in one space the farm is essential for that. There’s a range of next generation who are all fairly young just now, the oldest being about 21, but they will come. The opportunities are there.” – 54:15 – Iain Stirling

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Episode Thirteen : Herringbone Kitchens

Episode Thirteen : Herringbone Kitchens

For the first time on “It Runs In The Family”, we’re joined by partners in business and wedlock alike – the husband and wife team behind Herringbone Kitchens, William Durrant and Elly Simmons. This episode offers us a unique opportunity to delve into how marriage contributes to the dynamic between the two Directors of the Canterbury-based business.

Will and Elly join Liz & Leila to document the trepidation that came at the start of their business journey, how influencer marketing helped make a big name for their small brand, and their uncompromising commitment to the team’s culture.

This episode covers:
● Juggling emotion with analysis when making business decisions
● Appreciating and rewarding your team for helping achieve your vision
● How Will and Elly’s business and family lives are often interwoven
● The value-based culture at Herringbone, where everyone looks after each other
● Managing a unique relationship as partners and parents away from being business partners

Episode Highlights

“Originally, I was sort of terrified of losing a sale. We did it on a shoestring budget, and we did a bit of everything. If you came in for a kitchen it didn’t really matter what you wanted, I’m pretty sure we could do it. It was probably a necessity at the time, but now we have a style. If you come in for something we don’t do, we don’t do it, and that’s perfect. I love that we have our herringbone style.” – 2:15 – William Durrant

“We didn’t have a backup, so we had to really make it work at that point, which is when we started working with influencers. Instagram, actually, made a huge difference in the business – just getting our name out there instead of just being a little shop in Canterbury.” – 7:00 – Elly Simmons

“I’ll always be a part of the strategy, but the 24/7 wasn’t sustainable for us as a couple. Kitchens are Will’s dream and I’ve absolutely loved helping grow it and doing it together and getting it to where it is, but I had a career and PhD beforehand, and I want to make sure that I’m able to go back to that.” – 11:50 – Elly Simmons

“Since lockdown, even if you don’t have your own business loads of parents have experienced that same thing where you’re on an important phone call, and a little one is at your knees. Before lockdown, not everyone understood.” – 20:21 – Elly Simmons

“In our industry, it’s very unusual to employ people as fitters, and that was a really big thing for us. So we really wanted to employ everyone – subcontracting for us wasn’t really an option. We wanted them to be paid well, we wanted them to feel part of the team, we wanted them to have their holidays, and have their family time.” – 26:25 – William Durrant

“Will doesn’t think of himself as a manager, but I’m often so in awe of how he works with people and gets the best out of people. He doesn’t think he’s done it. He doesn’t give himself the credit, but he really gets the best, and I think Herringbone is what it is because of Will.” – 33:20 – Elly Simmons

“We didn’t start this trying to be some big, multinational, impersonal company. We never wanted to be like a Wickes or a Magnet. That’s not what we wanted, and still would never be what we want. We love that it’s a smaller business, and it’s personal.” – 42:20 – Elly Simmons


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