One of the things I love most about blogging is meeting inspirational, career driven and creative women who are not afraid to give something a go and pursue something they love for their work, and I loved interviewing Sarah from Floribunda Rose in the summer for her career profile. Well, I am pleased to say that I have a few more really brilliant career profiles to share over the coming months that I hope will interest and inspire you as much as they have me.
The first up is Emma and Nicola from The Little Gin Company. I found them through a friend who’d been on a gin tasting run by two women who had quit their corporate jobs, converted a horse trailer and taken their love for gin to a whole new level.
Well! As you can imagine I was captivated. And the second thing that crossed my mind was ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’ I knew I had to speak to them and gladly they were happy to tell us about their gin journey.
Read the interview below:
What is The Little Gin Company?
The Little Gin Company is a mobile Gin business run by Emma Bishop and Nicola Tavener. We have two converted horse trailers we use as mobile gin bars at events, festivals and weddings. We also have a pop-up unit we use for indoor events, or anywhere the trailer won’t fit! We also run a variety of gin tasting events in local venues, peoples homes (which is very popular for hen dos) and corporate functions.
Where did the idea come from?
Essentially from a love of gin! We have spent many years drinking and enjoying gin together and thought it would be brilliant to turn this passion into a business. We both had a desire to run our own business and discussed many ideas over a gin or two. We loved the idea of opening a gin bar but realised we wouldn’t have the start up capital to do so. Seeing the popularity rise of street food and outdoor events we settled upon the idea of starting a mobile gin bar…and it has grown from there.
What were you both doing before hand?
We both come from a marketing background. I (Emma) was working at Jaguar Land Rover in the UK marketing team, and my last role was as the media executive, planning and spending the UK media budget.
Nicola was working at Momentum Partnership, a sales and marketing agency based in Coventry, supporting companies within the manufacturing industry to grow their business.
What made you want to take a career change?
A desire to run our own business and be our own boss. We started The Little Gin Company up in our spare time alongside our full time jobs and our dream was for it to take off enough for it to become our full time occupation. After a successful first year in 2015 we felt we had enough momentum and future bookings to give it a go and in Spring 2016 we went full time. We knew this would seem like a risk to people on the outside but we had the belief in our business and concept to warrant giving it a go. We thought we would always regret trying if we didn’t – and it was the right time in our lives to be able to give it our full dedication.
How did you take the plunge?
I (Emma) left first and Nicola followed two months later. We had a full calendar of events for 2016 (over 50) and knew we wouldn’t be able to deliver those alongside our full time jobs. We felt our approach of building the business in 2015 alongside work enabled us to get the business to a good point where we knew we would be able to afford to pay ourselves a small wage and give it our full focus for the key 2016 season and beyond.
Were your family and friends on board? If not, how did you bring them round?
We couldn’t ask for more supportive family and friends and it has felt like everyone has been completely behind us from the outset. We are hugely grateful to our parents who have supported us in every way they can, from helping with trailer alterations to lending garage storage and being at pretty much all our events! We also have very understanding and supportive partners who have been there for us in the move to running the business full time and have been very understanding when we are away at events, arriving home at all hours of the early morning!
What has been the greatest challenge so far?
We feel like we are learning all the time and every new experience is a type of challenge that we find our way around and learn from going forwards. So far it has probably been just juggling the amount of different events with only two of us (although with lots of brilliant helpers and volunteers!). It is sometimes a real challenge logistically to plan stock, equipment, vehicles and trailers when we have had up to eight or nine events in one week – but have found a way to do it and have been extremely pleased with the results.
And the greatest success?
To date it is probably just now looking back on 2016 and having time to reflect on what we have been able to deliver and achieve. We said success for us this year would be actually delivering all the events we had booked to our high standards and we certainly feel like we have managed to do that. When you are a young, small business that is busy it is very easy to just keep working away and no sooner have you delivered something you are onto the next thing, and the next thing. So allowing yourself the time to review what you have actually achieved it really important.
What’s a normal day for you?
Not to preempt the next question but this is probably one of the best things about our job in that no two days are the same! We have such a variety of events that every week is different. Typically early in the week we will be planning and preparing for events and doing all the other parts involved in running your own business – so finance, marketing, responding to new enquiries etc. Then from Thursday through to Sunday we are usually busy delivering a variety of events, whether that is a hen do gin tasting, a corporate function or foodie or music festivals. We also have to find time to be as active as possible on our social media channels, and love to keep up to date on new developments in the gin world (with some serious tasting research of course!).
What’s your favourite part of your job?
As mentioned above the fact that each day is so varied is great. Probably the best thing is working for ourselves, doing something that we enjoy. It is so different from what we were doing before and although we work so many more hours it doesn’t feel like work. We also love never having that Sunday night feeling!
What is it like going in to business with a close friend?
For us it is really great. People ask us this a lot and whether we are still friends – we can confirm we are! We appreciate that there are probably not many friends that you could go into business with and for it to work, so we feel really lucky that we make a great team. We share many characteristics such as our passion for the business and gin but we also have different skills that make our partnership work really well.
Do you have any future plans for The Little Gin Company?
We have lots of future plans for The Little Gin Company that we are very excited about. We have lots of ideas on how we want to grow and develop the business but nothing is set in stone. We think this is the best way for us to grow so that we don’t rule out any potential new avenues and being so small and independent means we can take the business in whichever way we feel is best and where there is the most opportunity. Last year we also started The Little Rum Company (as we love rum as much as we love gin) and are really keen to grow our Rum business to the same level as Gin in 2017.
Do you have any tips for my readers who are thinking of setting up their own business?
Go for it! If it is something you are passionate about and you want to try we would encourage people to give it a go. Starting a business up alongside a full time job is hard work but it is a great way to test the concept before making a bigger commitment. Listen to advice from others and although sometimes you may not agree, having lots of input has certainly helped us to grow and develop. Developing relationships with other local businesses and those related to your industry is really important and we always hope that people have enjoyed working with us – and more often than not this leads to new opportunities going forwards.
What are your favourite gins and how do you recommend to drink it?
There are just too many to choose from! The gin world has exploded in recent years and there are now so many fantastic new gins to try. A couple of our favourites are Stratford Gin from Shakespeare Distillery (from our home town) – which makes a fab G&T with plenty of ice, fever tree tonic, orange slice and rosemary sprig. A new gin we have recently tried and love is Garden Tiger from the Cotswolds. This complex gin also makes a delicious G&T with an orange wedge garnish.
AND JUST FOR FUN:
What are your favourite flowers? Emma – so many but if I had to choose one it would probably have to be roses. We have some beautiful roses that grow up a wall in our garden and the mix of colours and scents when they are in bloom is the best.
Nicola – any kind of wild flower! The florist chose a lovely selection of wild flowers for my wedding last year.
Favourite thing to do on a Sunday? Sunday’s are definitely a work day for us and we very rarely have them off. If we do a sunday roast (cooked by someone else) is definitely on the cards!
Favourite travel destination? We were lucky enough to be able to spend new years in thailand last year with a group of friends and the beaches, sea and food is hard to beat.
Favourite way to relax? Emma – as we get very little time off to relax I love putting my feet up on the sofa with a good book.
Nicola – I love letting off steam on the netball court!
Favourite blog or Instagram account? Anything gin or rum related! One of our favourite food accounts is Soul Food Junkie – all posts look delicious!
What is the best piece of advice you have been given? Don’t drink all the profits!
What do you think? Pretty amazing hey? If you’d like to find out more about The Little Gin Company, see them here:
Website: The Little Gin Company
Facebook: The Little Gin Company
We’d love to read your comments in the box below.