Victoria – Graveney Gin
When we first wrote about Graveney Gin in the Spring of 2017, we commented about the tiny size of the operation and how (hopefully this came across loudly), its owner and distiller Victoria Christie was taking all the right steps to grow her then nascent brand. Almost exactly two years we caught up with her to find out how her tooting market based business was faring and what to expect next.
Gin Foundry: Hi Victoria, we’ve been tracking your journey since the beginning – but when did the idea of ginsmithing start for you?
Victoria Christie: Since I could drink alcohol really but I believed back then that it was something out of my reach for me, as I would have to have a masters in chemistry to understand or be born into the family business. It wasn’t until I did a gin school at Portobello road and then met people from the industry did I fully understand how welcoming and friendly it was, this was 2014/15.
But since the start I have just had a total pride for the liquid. My gin journey started then as a pure hobby and never driven as a career.
If you had to describe Graveney Gin and the kind of size of the operations today, how would you place it?
One woman and a dog called Ted. This is the size of the gin production. When I get calls to speak to the Marketing department it takes everything to not change my voice. Since the start it has been me, making the gin, labelling each bottle, social media, website orders, deliveries, you name it.
I am starting to realise my limitations and outsourcing things like photography and soon to be PR as I can’t master it all… and no doubt Ted will want to be on payroll soon.
They start having their demands don’t they eh…? You make Graveney Gin in Nano batches from Tooting market. How many batches have there been so far?
I am coming up to 300 batches so its still relatively small.
Wow that’s so many given the time frame! Looking back at when you started and where you are today – what’s been the highlight of the journey?
I think nothing can top launch day. I was genuinely blown away from the amount of support and just not prepared for it. Making back then 200 bottles which took 2 months for me to do and expecting that to last me my entire life time and then, to sell 120 bottles in that afternoon was just the most wonderful thing.
Most recently though, my mother-in-law saw my bottle on the side of an Abel and Cole van somewhere in the Manchester area and that has made my month! I feel like a rock star.
We spotted that you are working away on a new concept recipe – how long has it been in the works?
It’s been a working progress for the past 2 months. I am finding this a lot harder than the first time. With Graveney Gin I was creating something after work and on my lounge floor while watching telly as it was a gin I was making for me. Now, I do feel I don’t want to let people down so I feel a lot more pressure to get this right. I am aiming to do customer testing in the next month as I have the botanicals that I want to work with, just need to find the right balance.
In November you announced that you had raised £7,000 for conservation so far (through donating a percentage of the profit from each bottle sold). What made you decide to embed that charitable angle into company culture?
I believe that if you are able to create something from the beginning, create its values and what it stands for, taking and never giving back doesn’t sit with who I am. It’s so important to me that I try and do good on this earth and make a little difference.
I wish I was more business minded, but for me, I do things that matter.
And why did you pick Gearing up for Gorillas as the chosen charity?
I have had a love for Gorilla’s since I was a child and when I was creating brand values for Graveney Gin, I knew I had to be something that was equally meaningful. Gearing Up For Gorillas is 100% non profit and run by Linda who is a ranger. Her passion for conservation of Mountain Gorilla’s and Protecting Rangers in the DRC is infectious.
Is there going to be a time where tooting market is no longer feasible form a size perspective and you’ll have to move?
I think the way the business is going, that may be something that I will have to consider, but for now, it (just about works). Tooting Market will always be the home of Graveney Gin and it’s helped me to get where I am today, but I do sometimes feel I’m bursting at the seams in my 4 meter squared unit!
Speed round time to finish – quick fire Q&A quartet for you…
Martini with a twist or with olives?
Olives and then a side of them.
Rocks, Hi-ball or COPA glass for your G&T?
At home it’s a pint glass but in public its Hi-Ball.
So true. Best part of the job?
Coming across people who have heard of Graveney Gin, have a bottle and are genuinely excited to have a chat about the wonderful world of gin.
Best advice you’ve ever been given as a distiller?
Concentrate on your journey and not compare yourself to others and what they are doing.
“are you a bonded warehouse”, no I replied, “what do you do with your tales”, discard them, “have you thought about reusing them?” ……
And lastly – What are you most looking forward to this year?
Launching the two other recipes as they will continue to be named after Tooting areas/ landmarks and finding charities that I am equally passionate about. I will feel like my little gin family will be complete.
And there is a little something called Junipalooza. I missed last years to have baby so excited to be back.
Certainly will be great to have you there once more! Thank you for chatting to us.
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