The Tessen Sports story begins with lifelong rugby obsessive and Kenyan tea enthusiast, Terry Sands...
County rugby player, Ex-England Saxons and Sevens manager, hardworking entrepreneur and all round family man.
Terry began the Tessen journey in 1996 by simultaneously founding the Samurai Rugby Sevens Team, followed closely by the Samurai Sportswear clothing brand. A man that doesn't do anything by halves. After seeing Japan’s rugby team at the South African World cup, choosing the name Samurai for his company was easy for Terry. They were defeated in every single game played without losing any team spirit, focus, or determination. It was this experience for Terry that evoked the Samurai values.
Not satisfied with the Samurai Rugby Club going on to have worldwide recognition competing in 2 or 3 global tournaments a year, Terry also wanted to give something back to the sport with his Samurai Sportswear company. A brand that became associated with the rugby world thanks to its durability during play, premium quality finishes, and creative designs. All thanks to Terry's focused direction and attention to detail.
At the heart of every good company is family. And Samurai Sportswear is no exception. Terry's daughter and business administration expert Michelle and beloved wife Rose who happened to be a garment decoration specialist joined in 1997. Terry then went on to recruit daughters Keeley in 2005 for her graphic design background and in 2012 daughter Tracey joined up bringing along her banking knowledge and Hayley with her processing experience. The entire family was now employed ensuring personal customer service was an important priority.
In 2006 Terry made two smart decisions with the company. Firstly he moved the manufacturing to China. This raised Samurai Sportswear's profile by delivering significant control over its quality, styles and ranges, lead times, and delivery. And because of the durability and quality required in the sport of Rugby, entering into other sports such as cricket, netball, and hockey seemed like a natural progression for Samurai Sportswear.
Samurai's reputation was also given a boost globally thanks to the Samurai Rugby team’s participation in Global Tournaments. With the team's success, their striking kit was noticed across the world, especially in Kenya, East Africa. It was at this point Samurai Sportswear became a pioneering brand and started supplying sportswear nationally on a larger scale, and across the world. This included national teams such as Leicester Tigers and the Exeter Chiefs as well as International teams such as Kenya and Portugal.
In 2020 the pandemic hit and with many businesses failing, Terry made the decision in 2021, after 25 years of success with Samurai Sportswear that he would put the company up for sale. 25 years of passion and commitment to the company seemed like a nice round number to end on a high with. And in May 2021 the company was sold to an Italian Entrepreneurial Businessman with Terry keeping 20% shares as a minority shareholder. Of course, he didn’t let it go fully! Happy with the sale and that the Samurai Sportswear brand, now Samurai Apparel, would continue to grow and deliver world-class sportswear. Terry and his family left the company to take things a little easier.
Or so they thought...
TESSEN SPORTS SERVICES
After just 3 months of taking it easy with full days of decorating and gardening. Yes, just 3 months! Terry decided that after 25 years of commitment, passion and with a strong emotional attachment to the Samurai Sportswear brand, he needed a new venture to get obsessed with. With the occasional day off of course.
With phone calls from all over the rugby world wanting to pick Terry's knowledgeable brain, Terry decided to start a new venture and Tessen Sports Services was born.
A consultancy service that offered rugby sports consultation and event management. Making use of Terry's proven other skill sets.
With the Japanese influence over the Samurai Sportswear brand name, Terry had the desire to continue the tradition and eventually settled on the name Tessen. And of course, TES are Terry's initials!
But it didn't stop there...
Even after setting up Tessen Sports Services, 25 years of passion wasn’t easy to move sideways with the Samurai Sportswear brand continuing to be of interest. One evening, over a warming cup of Kenyan tea at his adopted home in Kenya, Terry had a deep conversation with a family friend involved at Mwamba Rugby Club. It was from this exchange that daughter Keeley suggested he got in touch with the new Samurai Apparel CEO to see if there might be an opportunity to help grow the Samurai brand in East Africa.
After several more cups of Kenyan tea, discussions and considerations, eventually, the two met for a meeting. With some deliberation, deep talking, and let's face it, probably more tea. Terry obtained a licence to sell the Samurai brand in East Africa through Tessen Sports Services.
And with 15 years of experience in sports team wear, manufacturing and production with Samurai Sportswear, also with an emotional attachment to the brand, it only seemed fitting that Keeley would take the reins of Tessen Sports.
Now in 2023, Terry and Keeley’s new goals are to continue making a positive impact in the sports team wear and consultancy world and beyond. One cup of Kenyan tea at a time.