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Noteworthy Interview Series: Torrance Hart, Founder & CEO of Teak & Twine

How do the most successful people organize their workdays and stay motivated? With the Noteworthy Interview series, we explore the day-in and day-out of inspiring founders, creators, and more.

Torrance Hart is the founder and CEO of Teak & Twine, a full-service gifting company that designs curated gift boxes for all kinds of occasions. Whether you’re looking for one gift for a friend or for 10,000 gifts for a corporate event—they do it all. Read on for an in-depth Q&A with Torrance about her typical work day, current inspiration, and words of wisdom.   

 

Hi Torrance! Tell us a little about Teak & Twine.

When I started Teak & Twine back in 2015, my focus was mainly on creating gifts for weddings. Then, one of the brides we had worked with (who happened to work for Microsoft) came to us with a gifting inquiry for their company holiday gifts. We ended up having so much fun with that project, and we were really good at it, too! So ever since, corporate gifting has become our biggest focus here at Teak & Twine.

 

Walk us through a typical work day.

I used to try to do a little bit of everything each day, but as I grew as a leader and expanded my team, it really makes more sense for our team to have each day of the week have its own “theme."

So, Monday is all about operations - mostly getting orders that came in over the previous three days out the door.

On Tuesdays, we start the day with “fika,” a Swedish custom that we’ve adopted here at T&T. So we get together first thing for coffee, pastries, fruit, etc. and we catch up for a little bit (and try to not talk about work!). It’s become a really fun ritual for our team. Tuesdays are also when we typically schedule creative projects and meetings, like photoshoots for new gift designs and corporate projects, or Design Days, which is when we get together as a team to design a new line of gifts for the season. 

Wednesdays are really free, which is sacred to me, so that I can do deep work on different projects.

Thursdays are crazy. Back to back meetings the entire day.

Fridays… it’s a toss up. When we aren’t crazy busy, I’ll do a little bit of work in the morning and spend the rest of the day getting outside and being with my family. If it’s October, November or December, I am DEFINITELY working on Friday. And helping our team wherever I can.

 

 

What does work-life balance mean to you, and how do you put it into practice?

When I first had kids, I thought the goal with work-life balance was to create a day where I would spend equal amounts of time loving my kids, spending time with my awesome husband, AND kicking butt at work. But for the past couple of years, I've realized that for me, especially running a product-based e-commerce business, I have to think about work-life balance over the course of an entire year. I know that sounds really like a huge amount of time, but we are so busy in the holiday season that my family (kids included) have all accepted that I'm going to have absolutely no work-life balance from about October 20 to December 20. And that's okay. Because that is the price I pay to have a GREAT work-life balance the other 10 months out of the year. I feel so lucky to get to do little things like walk my son to the bus stop, walk my other son to school every morning, and stay home with a sick kid when I need to, but November and December are all about buckling down and spending honestly crazy amounts of hours at work.

 

"For the past couple of years, I've realized that for me, especially running a product-based e-commerce business, I have to think about work-life balance over the course of an entire year."

 

What is inspiring you right now?
My hobby is interior design, and I get so much design inspiration for our gifts and our packaging from the incredible work of interior designers. Right now, maximalism and pattern mixing is such a fun new trend to watch come to life. And I look forward to incorporating it more and more in our gifts.

 

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting your business?

In the early days when I was first thinking about launching Teak & Twine, I was reading a bunch of books about entrepreneurship and how to build a business. One of the books that I read said to completely ignore SEO. Seriously. It argued that it was a game not worth playing, and that no matter how hard I tried, I would never be able to out-think giant teams of engineers at Google, and that my energy would be best focused on other marketing opportunities. This was honestly horrible advice, and I shudder to think about how much money that mistake cost me because I took that advice really seriously for years and did not think about SEO at all. I wish I had. So, if you're starting a business today… everything is about it. It really matters. So don’t run away from it! Lean in, learn about it and ask for help when you need it!

I would ALSO tell my younger self that hiring Suann Song, an amazingly creative designer whose work I had admired for years, would be the best investment I could ever possibly make. Eight years after launching Teak & Twine, our brand feels as timeless as it did when it first launched. And it's been incredible to watch Suann start her own company and absolutely crush it in every possible way. I would tell my younger self that yes, you can be a creative person AND be a successful business owner.

 

Are there any other lessons or words of wisdom that shape how you think about work?

I’ll never forget this podcast I listened to with Derek Sivers, who is an amazing entrepreneur and a very eccentric, interesting, fun person. One of the things he said about running a company is that you're designing your own utopia. So if there are things that you didn't like in your previous job, or don't like about the way things are going, that you have the power and the responsibility to change things. As a business owner, you have the autonomy to do things in a completely new and different way. I was so inspired by that idea and have been trying ever since to create my own “worktopia” here at Teak & Twine. For me this is about creating a workplace focused on achieving utopia, so much more than the idea of growing as fast as we can or scaling as fast as we can. And there are a lot of things that we do and the way we structure the business and the way we set goals that are much more aligned with our vision of worktopia, and I hope to be able to keep pushing those boundaries for years to come.

 

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