Name: Tash Ruparelia
Job title: Community & brand manager
Company & location: Dr Will’s, London
Education: Newcastle University, Media Communications & Culture
Why did you decide to go for a career in food? I’ve always been passionate about cooking, and it was inevitable that I would pursue a career in food. After a stint in PR, it was clear to me that rather than promoting products that I wasn’t excited by, I could get involved with brands that were doing some really exciting and challenging stuff, and be an integral part of the team (rather than a cog in the machine!).
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): From creating content and looking after the Dr Will’s social media, to designing labels for our new products and sampling our sauces in offices, shops and cafés, I work on building the Dr Will’s brand and getting our name out there.
What does a typical day look like for you? No day is the same. We’re a really small team at Dr Will’s (just four full time) and often it’s all hands on deck, no matter the job role! So, every day is varied, and never boring. One day I’ll be creating assets for restaurants and cafés to display, the next I’ll be approaching brands and bloggers for partnerships, as well as consistently running the brand’s social media channels and doing a bit of PR on the side.
Tell us how you went about applying for your job. I didn’t go through a typical application process. When our founders sold their first trial bottles of ketchup at a food market in Newcastle, I happened to buy a couple of bottles. I followed them on Instagram and kept up with what they were doing for the next year or so. When I was looking to pursue a full-time career in food, I sent the team an email saying I was keen to get involved. I started off sampling the products in stores around London, and after a month was hired full time. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
What’s the best part about working for a food company? Meeting other people in the industry – everyone is always willing to help each other out. Plus, product swaps with other food brands are always an added perk! It’s also particularly rewarding to get great feedback on our products from strangers or online, especially when we work so hard to get them right.
“It’s nice to see brands in your space doing well as it means they’re growing the category”
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? That everyone is competing against each other. There are a lot of companies doing similar things, whether it’s condiments, snacks or healthy drinks. Rather than thinking of them as competitors, it’s nice to see brands in your space doing well as it means they’re growing the category. Ultimately, as a challenger brand, we’re all working hard to bring consumers a new alternative to what is currently on the supermarket shelves.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? Be enthusiastic and tenacious! Offer your help for free (if feasible) as brands, especially start-up food and drink brands, will always appreciate the offer of help. It gives you a chance to show what you can do, and shows the company how passionate you are.
Make sure you are looking at brands that share the same values and ideas as you. A lot of start-up food and drink companies are really small teams, and if you’re going to be spending a lot of time together you need to be on the same page.
What’s your ultimate career dream? I would love to own my own food spot like a deli or a small café (obviously serving the best, healthiest condiments out there!). Before that, I’d like to see Dr Will’s available in supermarkets. We’re working on it!