On the up · 5 July 2018

The co-founders who fell in love and now produce London’s favourite tarts

Tart founders, Adam Harrison and Jason Smith

After working in Brazil for six months, this ex-Facebook employee and his cheffing partner decided to start up their own food idea in London, Tart.

Five years ago, Adam Harrison and Jason Smith decided to reinvent the humble tart, starting out with a stall at Herne Hill Farmer’s Market, the couple worked into the night to produce enough for the weekend sales.

After being able to sell over 200 a day, they felt ready to ditch the juggling act of two jobs, and open up shop with the first in Clapham and a second store in East Dulwich.

As the first part of our “I fell in love with my co-founder” series, Business Advice caught up with Harrison to find out how they split up work and home life and what iconic comedy duo they are similar too.

Who are you and what is your business? 

We are Tart London and we bake the tastiest savoury tarts you will ever have. With 2 cafes and more to come, we operate a bakery-cafe model and shall be expanding into wholesale this year.

When was the business founded?  

As a market stall in 2013 and then as bricks-and-mortar just before Christmas in 2014.

What is the company’s turnover and how many employees are there?

£800k gross sales per year and 23.

How did you both meet? 

At 4 am in a nightclub in Vauxhall of all places! Then we didn’t see each other for a year before going on a first date.

What inspired you to start a business together? 

To combine our skill sets, jump out of corporate life and give it a really good go together! Jace was the head chef at Stationers Hall in St Paul’s and I worked in marketing at Facebook. After a stint in Brazil with my work, we decided to return and find a food business idea to get stuck in.

What specific roles do you both have? 

Jace runs the kitchen, ensuring we produce all of the tarts, salads, brunches and cakes we need for both shops. I pretty much doeverything else with an emphasis on the numbers, marketing and front-of-house team.

How do you separate work disagreements from your personal life? 

We don’t! It’s impossible to leave things at the front door. We just make sure to talk through things, find a path forward and then change our attention to anything but Tart.

Do you have any rules to leave work at work? 

Nah, it’s impossible. Tart’s always in our head and people ask us about it all the time. We just try to limit conversations about work to the absolutely necessary and ideally within the first hour of getting home. After that, it’s dinner, chilling out and Netflix.

What are your individual strengths? 

Jace is a very talented chef and comes up with all the ideas for everything we produce. He’s also the hardest worker I’ve ever known, typically working 6 days a week and often 12 hours a day (not that this is a good thing). I’m a people person and so love manning the counter on a busy day, spending time with the front-of-house team. I’m also quite analytical and so am at home with product costings and numbers.

What’s been your biggest business achievement to date?

We over-funded our last Seedrs round in 2016, which enabled us to set up our 2nd shop. Having “too much” demand was quite a lovely feeling! 

What are the perks of running a business together? 

Jointly witnessing how we help sustain the lives of our team. It’s the aspect of Tart that we’re both proudest of – these people come to work for us, like it and manage to make a living from it. All from our idea.

What are the downsides of running a business together?

It’s all consuming, we indulge in too much chat about it and we’re both quite often skint as we don’t have good monthly salaries!

What celebrity couple are you most like? 

Dawn French (me) and Lenny Henry (Jace) – he’ll kill me for saying that. I’m the joker and he’s the loud fun one, aside from me being short, round and white and him tall, dark and devilishly handsome.

The Tart founders are currently crowdfunding for the second time, with 18 days to go they are keen to hit their target https://www.seedrs.com/tart-london.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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