Darren Elliott is a creative hospitality professional with over 25 years experience within the food and drink industry and a huge passion for tea and coffee.
He is COO and Cofounder of Timberyard UK, a multi award-winning independent coffee operator in the West End plus two operations within Facebook London HQ. Timberyard is the creator of the ‘no coffee no workee’ range of branded merchandise.
Timberyard comprises creative workspaces fused with specialty tea and coffee in a new and exciting, hybrid business model, which is a direct response to how enlightened people are choosing to work today in London and beyond. The Timberyard proposition therefore offers the potential of impacting two markets: the specialty beverage sector and the workspace sector. Timberyard challenges the traditional coffee shop format by encouraging its customers to stay as long as they like and providing products, services and environments that are conducive to their evolving needs. London is progressive city and people in London are working differently today. An increasing number of them are no longer tied to an office desk and so work remotely and nomadically, seeking inspiring environments in which to work more effectively. Timberyard recognises that such environments increasingly need to also allow people to break out from work to rest and play. Independents are leading the way in bringing innovation to a sector that’s been slow to evolve and Timberyard is viewed as a trailblazer.
Our readers would love to get to know you more Darren. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you?
We are a hybrid of speciality tea and coffee and public workspace. We provide a creative environment and a sense of community for freelancers, startups, students, and local business people, and give them the opportunity to work in a comfortable space that is inspiring, inclusive, and interactive, and filled with other like-minded people, to connect and ultimately collaborate. We are an enabler to the creative community and enjoy the small part we play in stimulating the economy.
Darren, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Creative Director?
Having trained in hotel management Darren began his career in the hospitality sector, initially in 5 star hotels before moving focus to the licensed trade and eventually on to food and later coffee. From here he followed his love of food to Bill's Produce Store launching their North Road venue in Brighton, the first of their 5 site rollout plan. In London in 2007 he relaunched the bar and restaurant operation at the Royal Court Theatre and the next 2 years were spent opening sites for Benugo (BFI, Museum of London and The Serpentine in Hyde Park).
Who is your inspiration in life Darren? How do you keep inspired?
I am drawn to all creative people, especially those brave enough to go it alone and start their own business. It’s relentless hard work but there’s no greater learning curve, thrill or fright.
We all make mistakes Darren, we wish we could take back. Please tell us about a time being a Creative Director , you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
In the past we’ve been too trusting of other businesses or trades people and unfortunately not everyone is as honourable as us.
Darren ,when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Creative Director, how do you go about prioritizing your clients’ needs?
We step up our internal communication and share our workload amongst the team to give all our partners the same priority.
Please tell us Darren, about a time you had to be very strategic in order to meet all your top priorities as a Creative Director?
To showcase the versatility of our new Soho location our small team curated a schedule of 50 creative events, from business talks and entrepreneurial meet ups to exhibitions and special previews, across the first 30 launch days.
Darren, please give us an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
Now this is such a frequent occurrence, there are just too many
Darren please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Creative Director. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share to everyone. What is it and why?
Winning best independent coffee shop in Europe in 2014, a an industry award from our peers than can only be one once.
Darren, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
We design each of our shop interiors ourselves with Soho being the largest and most complex and for which we won a cafe design of the year award in 2016.
What advice would you give to the people who wants to be successful as a Creative Director?
Be really good at what you do - aim to make a difference otherwise there’s no point in doing it. You don’t want to just keep mirroring what other people are doing. Try and evolve your industry and raise the standard on the high street.
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state below what type of collaboration you are looking for?
We love to collaborate and would happily discuss any interesting or innovative ideas.
Now for the best part Darren! Please upload 5-10 photos so we can get to see your work.
Photography by Timberyard UK