How it all started...
So you want to know more about Wild Spritz?
The original idea behind WILD was a ‘Sloe-gasm’! A wonderful drink that is basically champagne and sloe gin.
2012 was a great year for sloes and on our farm in Dorset we had a bumper crop. So I decided I should do something with them. Realising plain sloe gin was rather old news and a crowded market I set out to do something slightly different.
‘Sloe-gasms’ are a real Christmas drink in our farmhouse so I set about recreating it in a way it was affordable, not too strong but still delicious. And so the tasting sessions began! Many a long evening was spent making concoctions with all manner of alcohols, until finally I settled on a Perry base with a dash of gin and four flavours – sloe, elderflower, plum and ginger wine.
At that stage I thought I had done it! Within a matter of days if not hours we would be in full production with accounts with all the major distributors. How wrong was I?
Turning the newfound nectar from a kitchen table recipe into a commercial proposition was harder than I thought. Initially I tried to use local products but it quickly became evident that the best ingredients were not always available locally. In the end I decided to opt for quality. The Perry base comes from Herefordshire, as I needed a fine and light Perry without an overpowering flavour to mimic the elegance of champagne. The flavours are all natural and come from all over the UK and the Gin is a traditional London Dry Gin distilled within the M25. So the finished product is quality with no substitutions in an attempt to regionalise it. Only the best would do.
Packaging is an area I have no expertise in, both when I started out and now. One lesson I have learnt is you can't please all the people all of the time. Therefore it's important to decide on a small number of advisers - preferably one - and stick with them. I of course took advice from all quarters, changed my mind at least three times a day and as a result struggled. We got there in the end after many hours of head scratching and a very patient designer.
The design is attempting to evoke quality but at the same time natural, hedgerow and wild. All the ingredients are natural and I really wanted this to show through in the design. I also wanted the design to say something about the person drinking it, sophisticated, elegant but above all natural.
So then I had a liquid and a design; the next problem was getting it in a bottle! After one disaster where we were badly let down by some real amateurs ( never believe anybody who starts a sentence with 'we are really good at what we do...... ' as usually they aren't !) we found a reliable bottling partner in the midlands who understood exactly what was required in terms of quality and speed of turnaround, ( we are still working on understanding the price ! ). Consistency of production is critical to ensure each bottle is not only the same but of the highest quality.
The final part of the puzzle is to get this wonderful drink, that is now in a bottle, with a classy label, into your deserving hand. Easier said than done. It started off - as my wife will testify - as one of my five minute jobs.
Having taken on several ‘industry guru’s’ to Get Wild to market, it has become painfully apparent that with any new product, selling, promoting, marketing – call it what you will - is really something only you, the brand owner can do. You need the fire in your belly and the determination to succeed, which as a paid hand you really just don’t have. The number of meetings I have been to with flow charts, KPI’s, projections and ‘realistic’ targets when actually its only passion that launches a product.
There you have it……. the rest, as they say, is history. Everything in my life is a five minute job according to those closest to me! However even I must admit WILD has taken slightly longer than five minutes!
So my advice is twofold. Always ask everybody for advice but be selective and careful which bits you take on board and if you wake up one morning with the idea of setting up a drinks company ........turn over and go back to sleep, it will be much easier in the long run on both your nerves and wallet!
JONATHAN WALLINGTON - BRAND OWNER
THE HORSESHOE INN
A Traditional Pub, close to London Bridge and The Shard, serving good food, fine wines and Real Ales.
Cask Marque approved. A truly ‘ Proper ‘ Pub serving local, office and Tourists, just a stones throw from Bermondsey Street.
With 36 farm shops across the south half of England the company puts excellent customer care at the heart of the business. Employees are encouraged to ‘go the extra mile’ for customers, resulting in greater staff satisfaction, and stand out from the competitors.
Wholefoods seek out the finest natural and organic foods available, maintain the strictest quality standards in the industry, and have an unshakeable commitment to sustainable agriculture. Adding to that the excitement and fun they bring to shopping for groceries.