Tatjana Apukhtina

Tatjana Apukhtina

Co-Founder of TeaPro

Loves Green tea, Oolong and Instagram… and a bunch of other things.

Tell us about the venture/ business/ initiative you have started...

I run a tea subscription company called teapro. We send out monthly boxes with premium loose leaf tea, teaware and tea education, focusing on new tea variety each month. In a way, we take you by the hand and show you all the treasures that the world of tea has to offer.

What is your definition of success? What advice would you give to your younger self about "success"?

Success is a tricky word. It's hard to grasp. It can cause joy or anxiety in equal measure. What we often end up doing is connecting it to goals and material things. We believe that we'll be successful when we get a promotion in our job, or buy our first house, or start a new business, or maybe even sell an existing business.

The problem with that thinking is that we'll never be satisfied. Our goals keep shifting and growing, so we end up chasing our own shadow.

What I've learned in the last few years is that SUCCESS is an ATTITUDE. It's expressing gratitude for what we have and being open for more. It's giving back - either by creating products and businesses that help people and bring them joy, or by contributing to our environment or society. It's being in love with what you do.

What challenges have you encountered on your journey and how have you overcome them? Is this a common challenge in your industry? How can we tackle it?

My most recent challenge is probably similar to people who, like me, have worked too long as a "lone-wolf" freelancer. I'm so used to doing everything by myself, that when I started working on teapro with my partner Tom (who has worked in a corporate world his whole life), we were not on the same page at all. I was annoyed at him that he wasn't being proactive and he was annoyed at me that I wasn't communicating or working as a team.

One day we decided that this issue could no longer be ignored. We sat down and decided to incorporate AGILE methodology in our weekly workflow. We set up a Trello board (highly recommend it!) with the weekly tasks and goals and gave ourselves roles. I became the product owner (the person who decides on tasks and priorities) and Tom the scrum master (the person who organises the team). We would distribute the tasks amongst ourselves and have daily stand-ups in order to keep up with each other's progress.

I learned this process from Tom and it helped me and our business tremendously. If you're setting up a business and have a small team, I highly recommend you look into Agile methodology!

Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome? If so, are there any examples you can give and tips you can share with other women on how to overcome it?

Of course I have. I think that in a weird way experiencing an imposter syndrome is a healthy sign. Having occasional doubts about ourselves and our abilities means that we're not narcissistic sociopaths. It also allows us to grow and work on our weaknesses. However, if the "imposter syndrome" starts giving you anxiety and hindering your growth, here is a helpful tip on how to overcome it.

When you're discussing something from your field of expertise, focus on how that particular piece of knowledge can help the other person. There might be another "guru" out there, who knows way more than you do, but whose advice might not be as helpful or relevant as yours.

Are there women you look up to? Who are they and why are they inspirational to you?

I really admire Wendy Braun. She's an actress who taught me a lot about meditation, mindfulness, about being grateful and about taking life easy. We often push ourselves so hard, that we end up pushing our goals away. Instead, it's important to first establish the vision of where you want to be and then focus on enjoying the ride.

Because, imagine that you've just achieved an amazing goal, say you got that new job. The euphoria that you'll feel will last a few hours, maybe even several days. But how much time did you spend getting that goal? Months, years, decades? So why are we focusing on those short-lived moments of euphoria, instead of just learning to love the things we do every day?

What are your thoughts on work-life balance? Do you apply any techniques to achieve work-life balance?

Make sure to schedule time to have fun. It sounds ridiculous, but (if you're a workaholic like me) unless you schedule it in - you'll miss out.

How did you know it was the right time to start your own venture/ initiative? How would you advise someone who is just starting out with a project outside of their regular 9-5 job?

I think first it's important to find something you're passionate about. If you're only thinking about the money - forget it, it won't carry you through the lows.

Once you've found your passion, work out whether there is a problem you can solve. Then create an MVP - something you can manage on the side. Once the idea and the business has matured and you're starting to make a bit of income, that's when you're ready to quit your job. I won't lie, it's a lot of time and effort, but boy it's worth it!

What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?

I am still learning every day. Thanks to the support of my partner Tom, I've recently started to think much more visionary - looking for the big picture (my tendency is always to get bogged down in detail).

Once you have a clear vision of where your business needs to be, it's so much easier to bring on new team members.
With regard to mentorship, I'd say it's kind of similar to what I've said about the imposter syndrome question - you don't have to teach your mentee everything. Just teach what you're passionate about (that's most likely going to be your biggest strength).

What mistakes do you see people make when they first start their own venture/ intiative/ business and what advice would you give to women so that they can avoid making these mistakes?

I think people tend to get into too much detail too quickly. Always understand the big picture first, then work out the details.

Are there any resources/ books you would like to recommend for the women who read your #AspiringWomen article?

I'd like to recommend "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne.

I truly believe in law of attraction and this book is a great example of how we can improve our life by changing our attitude.

Is there anything else you would like to share with other women on their journey to success?

We have one life. Let's be grateful and make the most of it. Now go shine!

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Share your experience or nominate an aspiring woman you know!