Jasmine Wheelhouse launched her business celebrating all things gin just over a year ago. She tells BQ about its origins, growth, and why the Queen is her ideal customer!
What is it the company does?
The Gin Fayre is a celebration of one of the UK’s most loved spirits.
Visitors at The Gin Fayre enjoy a selection of the finest distilleries from across Scotland, the UK, and indeed, the rest of the world, alongside masterclasses, cocktails and free samples.
The origins of the event lie in a small coastal Scottish town with a rich heritage. Having successfully launched in St Andrews in February 2017, I have since expanded The Gin Fayre to the north of England.
I wanted The Gin Fayre to be a platform for new gin brands to let consumers know about their existence. It also allows gin lovers to explore different types of gins without having to spend £30 - £40 on a bottle in the supermarket.
What inspired you to start-up?
A gin lover myself, I recognised that there was an untapped market of gin fans across smaller towns in the UK. With large scale spirit festivals often taking place in the big cities, I felt that consumers in the smaller districts had been overlooked.
The Gin Fayre was established at a time when the gin-revolution was bubbling away in the background; with new distilleries popping up frequently.
Running events has always been a passion of mine; whilst at university I set up the largest vintage fayre in Scotland. After graduating I realised that life is too short not to do what you love and so, I left my full-time job in education to launch my business.
How did you go about starting up, did you apply for funding or did you self-fund the project? If so, where did you secure funding from?
The Gin Fayre is completely self-funded. I set-up the first event on a shoe-string budget and since then it has grown exponentially.
I’m not really one to take no for answer; I contacted every gin distillery I’d ever heard of until I had enough interest to launch the first event in Scotland, which then lead to a series of sell-out events in 2017.
Where do you get advice/support/help?
I was successful in securing a place on NatWest’s business accelerator, Entrepreneurial Spark in 2017 which gave me access to a support network of other entrepreneurs and mentors.
I also come from a family of business owners which has been helpful in gaining advice and support on my entrepreneurial journey.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Making the jump from a stable corporate job to running my own business was one of the biggest challenges and trusting myself to make it work.
It takes me a long time to really decide to go full steam ahead with an idea; I have so many of them I just have to make sure it’s actually going to work first.
What is your next big target?
We have plans to go beyond the north of England, down towards the midlands and further south, as well as other locations across Scotland. We also have plans to do a very exciting highlands and islands tour in 2018… watch this space!
What is the best and worst thing about being a start-up?
The best thing is definitely the flexibility of running your own business. However, on the flipside, I am quickly finding that I’m doing more and more of the things I don’t enjoy doing as much; particularly accounts and policies; which are thoroughly dull!
What makes this idea different?
The Gin Fayre visits the places that are outside of the bigger cities; we want to capture the gin lovers that we know exist outside of the big cities. Most recently we were in Wetherby and Durham.
I believe The Gin Fayre has worked so well because it is a direct route-to-market for gin brands and a try-before-you-buy opportunity for customers.
The event itself usually runs over two sessions with a gin masterclass at each. These showcase one of the unique distilleries and allow attendees to delve further into the flavours, processes and stories of the gin.
Who would be your dream customer?
I hear that HRH The Queen is partial to a gin - she would definitely be our ideal customer!
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