Jack Wills: For those that don’t know, what is Doisy & Dam, and what do you do there?
Ed Smith: Firstly, HEY! Thanks for having me; I’m getting hits of nostalgia from working on the JW marketing team. Doisy & Dam is a London-based chocolate company; we make all sorts of different chocolatey treats with a big focus on our choc-bars. We put superfoods in everything we make for better nutritional profiles, textures and flavours. I am one of the co-founders alongside Rich, my partner in crime, and I handle the sales, marketing and brand aspects of the business.
JW: When did you start working at Jack and what were your roles here?
ES: I did an internship with the UK marketing team in 2009. I was at uni in the US and was recommended JW by a previous employer as a great business with an entrepreneurial spirit, so I applied for an internship and worked on the summer events calendar in the UK. After I graduated I was itching to get back into the team and the timing coincided perfectly with the expansion of JW into the US – so I moved from Philadelphia to Boston into a dinky little start-up office in 2010/11. I started as a Marketing Manager but I don’t think the role really meant anything more than being part of the awesome group of people getting-marketing-shit-done.
JW: What is the one memory of Jack that you look back on most fondly?
ES: I look back on the whole thing pretty fondly; it was the best first job I could have hoped for. I was certain that I didn’t want to go into a suit and tie job, and pretty sure that I wanted to start my own business, so it seemed like the perfect environment for me. The thing that really made it special was the group of people I was with, Americans and Brits alike; it was such an awesome collection of people. The sun, beaches and Land Rovers didn’t hurt either…
JW: How did your experiences at Jack help you to launch D&D?
ES: We had really limited budgets and high expectations in the first couple of years at JW and we were trying to establish a new brand rather than grow an existing brand, like in the UK. It meant we had to be really creative, work as generalists, get things for free and amplify our message cheaply – all key elements in the toolkit for establishing a very young brand.
JW: What gave you the inspiration to go it alone?
ES: It’s always been a goal of mine to start a business, and JW gave me some of the tools I needed to feel more confident about it. It’s also incredibly helpful to have someone to take the plunge with because you can egg each other on into thinking it’s a good idea. The JW team was also really supportive of my plan; it wasn’t like I had to hide what I was doing. GO TEAM.
JW: What has been the key to your successes?
ES: I think it’s a little early to be talking about successes… But in terms of what’s enabled Rich and I to get the business to this point – the key has been taking advice from as broad a group of people as possible, churning it over and coming out with what you think is a balanced approach. I had and have no idea what I’m doing at any one point, so a combo of seasoned advice and gut feeling is probably not a bad tactic for overcoming challenges.
JW: What does being ‘entrepreneurial’ mean to you?
ES: I think it means a few things. Enjoying creating things and overcoming challenges. Being an effective generalist. Being willing to learn constantly. Not freaking out when bad stuff happens, or at least concealing it well…
JW: What would your advice be to people looking to start up their own business?
ES: Get as much advice as possible, as early as possible and keep the people whose advice is most valuable close to you.
JW: What does the future hold for D&D?
ES: We want to bring a new level of quality and innovation to the UK chocolate market – that means better chocolate with more interesting flavours in more innovative formats. Expect some big launches early this year, followed (hopefully!) by some more at the end of the year. Thanks so much for the chat, team Jack!