Born and raised in Northland, Latesha Randall (Tesh to her friends) is now happily ensconced in the surf town of Raglan with Seb (Mr Coconut). This serial entrepreneur has been keeping busy with various ventures since the ripe old age of 18, including the Good (digital) Agency she launched with Seb, writing books, (Button Thief, Abigail Knightly, and The To-Be List), glamping getaways in her yurt and tiny house, and of course Raglan Coconut Yoghurt. We asked Latesha recently about running an ethical business, found out what she’s up to next, and wondered aloud how she makes the best coconut yoghurt we’ve ever had the good fortune to sample. (It’s a closely guarded secret. You’ll just have to taste some for yourself.)
How did your coconut yoghurt journey start?
It all started when we realised Seb was reacting to dairy products. We were really keen to help clear up his nose (he has a bunch of different allergies), and dairy seemed to be a big contributor, so I wanted to create a yummy yoghurt we could still enjoy. One day I had made a big batch and offered a couple of extra jars on our Raglan Facebook Noticeboard page, and had so many people respond that I spent the whole weekend making yoghurt! It’s just grown and grown from there.
Describe what you do. A day in the life, if you will…
My days are full of all sorts of different things, no two days are the same. I might have meetings with staff, or be talking with stores, or working on some of our projects like the current 1 Million Pieces beach clean-up campaign. Every day I’m replying to customers over email and social media – I run both our Facebook and Instagram pages and answer everyone personally. On weekends I’m often at an Expo or Trade Show, giving people samples of our yoghurt and telling them about our products. I also do lots of admin stuff too, like paying bills, doing the payroll, and daily account reconciliations in Xero. I like having variety in my workday and I often will work at unusual hours if I’m feeling inspired.
What are you most proud of?
I think all achievements are really fleeting. But I guess I’m most proud of myself for trying to become more self-aware and grow as a person. I’m also proud of Seb and I for sticking together throughout the past crazy years of running this fast-growing business, we’ve had our fair share of challenges to face together!
Tell us about something you are up to right now?
We’re working on two new flavours at the moment – of course these need to remain top secret until launch, so I can’t say much more! They’re both delicious.
What are you reading/watching/listening to?
I just finished reading In Order to Live, which is an incredible true story about a young girl’s escape from North Korea. Also working my way through copies of New Zealand Geographic that my friend sent me, such an interesting magazine. Shows what a diverse place the world is. As for watching – Seb and I watched the series ‘Dirty Money’ last week on Netflix, really good investigative journalism and a real insight into capitalism gone wrong. Makes us even more determined to run an ethical business that’s about more than just profit.
What are your plans/inspirations for your company?
Our goal is to be the most loved coconut yoghurt in New Zealand and Australia. We want to inspire people with how we do things – like becoming a Living Wage employer, making vegan products that taste really yummy, and with the different projects we support. This year we’re also expanding into Singapore which is exciting, we have a trip planned in July and I can’t wait to visit for the first time.
What are the biggest challenges to owning and running your yoghurt business?
Where to start! There’s challenges all the time. If something goes wrong, you’re the one who ultimately has to deal with it. At the end of the day, you pay (literally) for all mistakes. We’ve had staff make mistakes that cost us a whole batch of yoghurt, and you can’t do anything but smile and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. You’re never able to fully switch off, which is a big one – people contact me at all times of the day and on the weekends – customers need to be replied to regardless of whether it’s a public holiday or not. Seb and I haven’t had a proper ‘no-work-at-all’ holiday since the business started. But you do have to accept that challenges are all part of the journey. The more accepting you can be, the more gracefully you’re able to handle them – something I’m constantly trying to get better at.
Which three ingredients are absolutely indispensable in your kitchen/fridge/pantry?
Coconut oil (we use it for everything!), fresh herbs from our garden (currently growing basil, rocket, parsley, mint, rosemary, coriander, thyme, sage, and oregano), and dark chocolate for nibbling in the evenings.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Tell us something no one else knows about you?
I love reading and always have a few good books on hand. I’ve recently joined a local book club. I also have started learning how to paraglide this year. (I’m a secret adrenaline junkie and have tried skydiving, bungy-jumping, and just about every other adventure-type thing you can think of), and at the moment I’ve started doing night classes learning Te Reo Maori. It’s exciting to finally be learning the language of this beautiful land we’re so blessed to live in.
We wholeheartedly agree Latesha.
You can find Letesha online at:
Facebook – facebook.com/RaglanCoconutYoghurt
LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/latesharandall/