Distillers of Surrey Director Simon Sherlock Solves All Of Your New Business Qualms - And His Answers Are A Tonic
"Invest significant time and effort in your branding... Surround yourself with good people... Aim high and believe in yourself – there will be times when you will have doubts or worries but keep focused on your goals."
Today Words Do The Talking's Business Insights Hub is joined by the Director of Distillers of Surrey, Simon Sherlock.
Since launching his gin brand to the public just a few months ago, Distillers of Surrey has already gained unbelievable traction - you can now find Simon's gin in over 35 different retailers in Surrey to London (plus online). How has Simon achieved this? Thanks to a strong mindset, an end vision and endless hard work, he has quite literally pulled the gin out of the bag.
Inspired yet? We thought so.
The questions we've asked Simon will give you a glimpse into what makes his brand work, how he engages with his customers and the collaborations that go into building a successful young gin brand. So read on for inspiring business tips tried by a man who has very recently lived and breathed them himself - and made it out the other end w(g)inning.
Q. With a name like Simon Sherlock, was it inevitable you'd do something fantastic like start your own gin business?
A. Well, with the surname of Sherlock it was certainly inevitable that I had to spend some years in the Police! 12 years to be precise followed by 3 years with the Army. It was then that I decided I wanted a change and so started my distilling career at Silent Pool which was a great foundation for learning - I ultimately became their Head Distiller.
Q. What a mixture. We're thinking that '& Sons' implies you have sons? If so how many, how old and have they had a whiff of the gin yet?
A. Correct. My wife Lianne and I have three sometimes wonderful boys! Aged 7, 5 and 3!! All have sworn an oath to join our family business.
Q. Keeping it in the family - great idea. We would love to know who designed your branding and packaging? It's beautiful.
A. I had the concept of beautiful embossed botanicals on the labels with an overall branding of grey and copper. But FortnumFox ran away with my base concept and created something truly amazing. The problem then came when trying to find a printing agency who were skilled enough to print and emboss to the levels that we wanted, and that was where Benwells rose up to the challenge.
Q. The textures are incredible! So far what has been the greatest achievement for Surrey Distillers?
A. Having launched to the public on World Gin Day 9th June 2018, our greatest achievement to date has been to find out that we are finalists with Surrey Life Awards as ‘Best Newcomer’!
Q. No doubt that'll just be the start of the nominations - we'd recommend clearing shelf space. Any tips and tricks you'd offer a brand new business/idea owner at the start of their journey?
A. The key tip at the beginning of your journey would be to invest significant time and effort in your branding. It has to be top notch and importantly consistent. We frequently have customers comment on our branding and how distinctive it is, which is important when trying to succeed in a competitive market. Surround yourself with good people, people that believe in you and your vision and have the skills you need to get the end result you envisage. Lastly, aim high and believe in yourself – there will be times when you will have doubts or worries but keep focused on your goals.
Q. We spotted your brand in Tatler alongside some other standout businesses. Where would you advise works best when marketing your product?
A. It honestly depends on your product and the audience that you want to reach. It is crucial that when starting your business or brand, you have a clear idea of the people that you want to reach. Once you have that firmly in place, finding the right way to market your product or brand will be relatively easy to identify. It is also beneficial when interacting with customers, to ask them where they heard of you – that way you get some tangible feedback on which marketing efforts are working. You also can’t underestimate the power of social media, so where appropriate, see if you can get that marketing power to work for you.
Q. Brilliant advice, thank you. pHenomonal Drinks organic syrups for gin & tonic are doing cool things at the moment with mixology. Where do you see the gin industry heading?
A. I don’t see gin slowing down for quite a few years. In fact I only see more coming to market which is exciting, but as Distillers we already have some great products that are in the pipeline so watch this space!
Q. So finally, the question we've all been waiting for... Where can our readers get their lips around your refreshing gin? And where can we see you next?
A. We are currently in over 35 different retailers in Surrey and London and the list is ever expanding, as well as online purchases. Your readers should check out our Stockists page on the website for the full list of places that stock our gin and follow us on Instagram where we keep our followers up to speed on all the exciting developments and partnerships that are happening. We are also at Ripley, Godalming and Millford Farmers Markets each month where your readers are more than welcome to pop by for a taste of both our Solstice and Nautical editions and perhaps have a cheeky G&T.
Vital business tips to take away
1. Connect with and learn from customers - find out how they discovered you. More tips on Business Feedback here
2. Branding and appearance is vital. Work on it - it's worth it
3. Stick at it, stay confident and believe in what you are doing. Find out how in this blog.
4. Surround yourself with the right people; the people who drive you to excel.
Can you handle anymore inspiration? If so, click here to read about the startup triathlon brand reinventing sportswear for women.
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