Open4Business: May 2016
New Biz on the Block: Graveney Gin
From banker to gin maker. How one Tooting resident turned her passion into a business.
Victoria Christie believes that her passion for gin stems from her childhood memories she has of her mother enjoying the occasional G&T, in Malawi, where she grew up.
However, it wasn’t until she moved to London several years later that she discovered a nation of enthusiastic gin drinkers and became aware and excited at the wide variety of gin options, including craft gins made with unusual ingredients and in quirky ways.
It was, Victoria says, a birthday present – in the form of a trip to the Ginstitute distillery in West London - that made her fall head over heels with the gin making process.
I made my own gin as part of the distillery experience, and enjoyed it so much, that it inspired me to buy a small still, and after jumping through some regulatory hoops I began distilling gin in my kitchen.
She soon began researching, experimenting and producing various versions, testing them out with family and friends until settling on one that she really liked.
In September 2015, Victoria left the world of banking to launch Graveney Gin, a hand-crafted organic spirit, where each bottle is hand-crafted, sealed and signed with an individual batch number. The company uses seven botanicals (flavouring ingredients) and makes an extra effort to source locally, to ensure that it’s a "born and bred” London gin.
The name is a homage to both her hometown of Tooting and the local people who have helped her along the way.
I’ve had the most wonderful support from Tooting Residents. Without Tooting I wouldn’t have anything, so hopefully, my gin is something the locals can be proud to call their own.
Earlier this year, after a successful crowdfunding campaign, Victoria opened a boutique tasting room-come-bar inside Tooting Market, where customers can enjoy a small hand-crafted batch gin in copper mule mugs and tonic served with pink grapefruit. They can also learn about how gin is made, what botanicals can be used as well as experience some of the new techniques and flavours that are coming to the market.
She admits trying to be "everything for the business" is probably one of the biggest challenges she has faced. So what three tips would she give to someone thinking of setting up their own business?
"Speak to people in the industry and see if you can get a mentor. It’s amazing how many people will say yes – when they do, take their help!"
"Get professional help for the big things - book keeping, accountancy or example, it’s worth the cost. I don’t think a distiller should be doing book keeping and I wouldn’t expect a book keeper to be producing gin. Leave it to the experts."
"Tell yourself you are doing a great job – because you are!"
Visit the Graveney Gin website to find out more information.