There's a reason I like Rick (and its not just because he buys our coffee), he has the same values and mindset as I do. How do I know this? We've been chatting on the gram for what is probably two years or more. It started with a question; Rick asking how quickly we could get coffee to him as he was deploying and needed a hearty supply to take with him. This developed to us sharing purchased training programs (sorry GMB & Warfighter Athletic), to giving advice and ideas on business, to eventually meeting up for, yup you've guessed it, a coffee!!
We arrive late (no five minutes early from this Marine) and Rick has the wets in. Introductions are made between everyone, including dogs. It's safe to say Chester (Rick's Frenchie) is not a huge fan of our two Cavs (Cookie & Hooch) but you cant win them all. Over the course of the next few hours, the conversation flows between all things business and of course general chit chat.
With our coffee mugs empty and Rick needing to pick his kids up from school, we say our goodbyes. I call it another success! I would never have thought when starting Green Beret Coffee that I'd end up meeting so many cool people - helping each other in business and as chad as it sounds, making fwends!!
In our way to support our friends and veteran owned businesses we came up with twelve questions for them to answer to help spread their message via our platform. We are calling this segment 'Eyes On'.
Widow One Zero Q&A
While Rick from Widow One Zero is still living life in a green suit and has one of the coolest jobs around, he is a JTAC aka Joint Terminal Attack Controller, he had the vision and the drive to be the first to market Woobie Hoodies in the UK. With design and performance rooted into the very foundations of the company, the mission is to be much more than just a 'merch' company. This is only the beginning...
If you hadn’t have joined the military, what would you have done instead?
NO….IDEA! My parents were military and so to was my Granddad who fought in WW2 as an infanteer. I guess a life in some kind of regimented fashion or career in something that provided a sense of progression amongst people who equally felt like they had bought in to something that was not just a job but a way of life. I know that sounds cliché but there really is honour amongst thieves and there isn’t an organisation in the world that has so many people who are symmetrically opposite.
What was the highlight of your military career?
So far I’ve been really fortunate and I have a plethora of great memories so ill hit you with a few. As you know Rus, I enlisted as a soldier in the Household Cavalry Regiment and whilst the hours at the mounted part of the Regiment could be gruelling, the first time you mount your Cav Charger and ride out to conduct changing of the guard at Whitehall is something else. It’s a mixture of pride, nerves and a concoction of emotions capable of heightening your senses like the biggest drop in atmospherics! It was a hell of a ride. I loved my tours of Afghanistan but my desire to get back out there and do my job where it counts is so intense that I try not to think about operations too much. As a UK JTAC I genuinely feel like I’ve cheated life and somehow managed to get myself into the best job in the world and with it, I’ve seen some rad places such as: the US, Czech Republic, the Falklands, Oman, beautiful Scotland and countless others but they just don’t make the cup final compared to these next two.
During my time in the Household Cavalry, I was chosen to represent the Regiment in what was called “the musical ride”. It sounds wafty I know but it was great. 16 soldiers conducting some precision riding, at speed and to some pretty punchy music. This was culminated with the famous gallop out which regularly had the thousands of people watching on there feet. In 2008 I was chosen along with 3 others to meet Her Majesty the Queen after the show as a reward for best ‘turnout’ prior. This was to be the first, but not my last, interaction with the royal family and it was the first big “something” that had happened to me whilst serving.
In 2016 the unit I was attached to set out to climb Kilimanjaro via the west breach with all our own kit. An ascent that would take us 8 days (later that was cut to 7 due to a porter dropping critical rations as we climbed under darkness up the breach). Standing tall on that summit, the highest standalone volcano in the world and Africa’s highest peak, with a few people I now consider to be good friends was as literally breath-taking as it was figuratively.
When did you leave the military and have you had any other jobs since then?
Whats the best thing about being a civvy?
What made you want to start your own business?
I have always been a bit of a kit pest but once I got married, I really had to reign it in. For me Rus, “stay pussers, stay safe” has never really been applicable. I was looking at kit thinking how crazy the prices have gotten for good kit. I get it. A lot of time and effort goes into making kit that people often put their life on the line with but I often wondered if the margins grew to avoid the shadows of a company’s reputation. I’d had two ideas of how I wanted to see a company ran that was veteran owned and sold outdoor equipment and I didn’t like the idea of anyone else doing it. The vision I had was MY idea and if it wasn’t done the way I had imagined it, it wouldn’t be perfect. Look, I know in running a business and a business runs for profit but the minimum standard that I expect Widow One Zero to be operating at is written in the plans around the 3-5 year mark. Its not something I want to make fully public just yet as it involves a few BIG moving parts but watch this space!
What is your favourite and least favourite part of running your business?
I really struggle to turn off which means the wife and kids sometimes take second place to a customer enquiry at bed time or when we are enjoying taking our French Bulldog Winchester out for a walk. I’ve been quite selfish with the firm belief that if you give someone a good experience with you then they might tell 2 people but if you give someone a poor experience then they are more likely to tell thrice that number. But if I’m being honest, it’s bringing that human interaction to an online store that I have loved. Buying online is so much easier and efficient but we all know that shitty feeling when you just need to ask a question and the company has provided you with nothing but pre-recorded telephone options to listen to and hangs up on you with no chance of talking to an operator or customer service person. W10 has plans, big plans, but will always try to speak with its brilliant followers and customers. That’s by far my favourite part.
What is you’re business ethos/mission statement?
I like to keep this pretty simple, but dare to achieve and I use that not just in business but also in my personal development and of others around me. The power to develop others also develops yourself and this is something I believe in strongly. The community I have around me in business and family solidifies that and my go to quote is "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another".
Have you a favourite item in your store and if so why?
My MK1 Black Multicam hoodie. That first shipment of my products that arrived, ready for the market, was an incredible feeling of accomplishment and the first one I took out of the box was my size and it marked the start.
What do you do to relax from the stresses of life?
Honestly, there isn’t much relaxing in my house. I am still serving full time as well as a father to 3 aforementioned kids who are pretty cool but keep me busy and then running the business. Finding time to chill doesn’t really happen. My favourite time of the day though, is that small window in the morning before the kids get up and I can sit in my kitchen or garden, with a good coffee (no shameless plugs here honest) and just enjoy absolute quiet.
Have you any epic adventures planned for 2021?
2021 is a blank calendar at the moment but with the way this year has gone im hoping Godzilla doesn’t turn up and fuck shit up to be honest! I would like to up my camping game next year and get back into my long(er) distance running. I hit a personal goal of 151 miles in a month this year and I’ve got my eyes on another virtual challenge or perhaps a marathon.
Any advice for veterans thinking about starting their own business?
Do it. For all the cool people you’ll effect in a positive way, do it. For you in 5 years looking back, do it. It took me a while to believe I should or even could and although I’m still learning as I go, having my own company now has made me question why it took me so long. The biggest thing I’d want to tell them is don’t be a victim of those suffering with small poppy syndrome. A good friend of mine, who applied the same thing to his life and is very close to completing a very arduous selection, introduced me to this philosophy. It is when those around you cant bare to see you succeed for fear that it may make them look bad or feel threatened so they tell you “cant”, “shouldn’t”, “won’t” and “don’t”. Fuck em.
Do you and we will all be here to tell you “can”, “should”, “will” and “do”.
Finally, what’s the best way to drink coffee?
I’ve just received a sexy barista style machine for my **th birthday and it is legit. Im a once you go black sorta dude too so I like a good strong coffee but my absolute “if I was only allowed to drink it one way” option would be coldbrew all the way. Rus, you should link my guest blog on “how to make coldbrew coffee” so the readers can see how I make mine after months of trial and error.
To find out more and to hear how the name Widow One Zero came about, check out Ricks blog