FOUNDER OF TIPPLESWORTH
For cocktail mixologist Frankie Snobel, a chance meeting provided the unexpected spur to turn a hobby and business idea into a commercial reality. “At a gin tasting, I met someone who worked in PR at Harvey Nichols and gave her the elevator pitch for my business. The next day I had buyers calling and wanting to get hold of the products. I had an order before I had a product ready.”
The idea was to meet a gap in the market she had spotted for boutique, cocktail mixing sets.
“I was used to being given cocktail-related gifts, but they were quite cheap and not the standard I would like to give myself,” she recalls. “I was inspired by the cases that used to exist in the ‘50s, quirky suitcases you could put a bottle of whiskey and tumblers in.”
With a major retailer knocking on her door, Frankie had to move quickly from idea to execution. Her first call was to Start Up Loans, the British Business Bank supported programme which offers funding and mentoring to new businesses.
“I had the order come in and needed a way to fulfil it. I don’t know if a bank would have taken me seriously at that stage. Start Up Loans helped a lot – as well as the loan, they connected me with someone who helped me understand how a business runs.” From that first order, Tipplesworth rapidly gained momentum, with Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, John Lewis and Liberty among the outlets who now retail the products.
The business was launched from Frankie’s flat, located immediately above the storage facility she used. “It would have been difficult otherwise; that allowed me to use my flat to set things up. In the beginning you have to keep your costs as low as possible and you need to assume you’ll be putting in a lot of crazy hours, so it’s nice to know everything is just seconds away.”
With new products due for launch soon, a small staff now in place and a burgeoning events side of the business, one chance meeting three years ago has taken this business a long way in a short time.
“You never know who you’re going to meet. I have had massive deals come out of being somewhere and chatting to someone. At one event I met someone who turned out to be the head of marketing at First Great Western. We now do cocktail events with them in their first-class lounge.”
“When you’re creating a business and looking for feedback, yes go to family and friends, but also go to people who you don’t have any emotional connection to. Sometimes you need someone to be really honest and some of those encounters helped me to make serious changes.”