I lived in Japan for a year back in the mid 90s and one of my favourite things was buying a can of sweet iced coffee from dispensers that lined the streets near my apartment. When I returned it was many years before I saw something similar in the UK. That came in the form of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, a brand founded by Jim Cregan, the latest interviewee in our Everyday Interview series.
We recently sat down with Jim over ice coffee (what else?) to hear how Jimmy’s came to be.
What did you want to be growing up?
Texas Pete from SuperTed, followed by a graphic designer in London. Both of which didn’t happen. My sister Suze and I were born in Dubai where our parents worked at the time. Dubai, when I was growing up, was nothing like it is today; no sprawling skyscrapers, just lots of unspoilt desert. I left when I was 18 and came to the UK to study and I’ve only been back a couple of times since.
Where did the idea for your brand come from and how did you bring it to life?
I discovered iced coffee during a trip to Oz. We pulled into a petrol station to fill up with food and drink, and it was there I found these old school cartons of iced coffee. It kept me awake on long drives, sorted stupid hangovers, and was a perfect post-surf pick-me-up. It was when I returned to the UK that I had my ‘lightbulb’ moment. I walked into my local supermarket in search of something similar to the iced coffee I drank in Oz, but there wasn’t anything like it. It was then I decided to make my own. Six years later, we’re now stocked in over 3000 stores in the UK!
What has been the greatest challenge to your brand/work?
The toughest day for the business so far was when I received a call from our production company saying that they’d put a stop on production until we started paying back the £250,000 we were in debt. So we were summoned to an emergency meeting and we negotiated new terms. My thinking at the time was ‘just stay positive. At least it isn’t £500,000’ and I knew I would graft to make things work. Sleep became a myth and my dedication was tested, but deep down I always had unwavering faith. That was the hardest day, but one month on we secured a contract with BP to stock our coffee in their service stations. Three years later, we broke even.
Who was or is your greatest influence?
It’s not about who but more about what for me and that was my upbringing in the United Arab Emirates. Being an expat desert kid in the 80’s taught me to be free and to think openly and simply. To not take things seriously and to realise that life is for living.
How would you describe your personal style?
Style, interesting. I’m not smart. I like wearing flip fops and shorts. I always, always wear a snap back cap with my brand on it. I’m a communicator and like being around people who are interesting and enjoy things that I enjoy. We have the most amazing team here at Jimmy’s and I simply love hanging out with them inside and outside of work.
Tell us something no one knows about you?
I’m not interested in raw tomatoes at all. Give me pasta, ketchup, roasted cherry tomatoes but if you sneak a buffalo tomato into my sandwich I’m gonna lob at you.
7 words to describe yourself
Dude, coffee, beard, happy, cap, rad and KYCU.