No summer soiree is complete without a tray of delicious cocktails. Even better if they’re made with organic ingredients. Noticing a gap in the market, Philippa of Fatty’s Organic Spirits approached the launch of her artisan drinks business from a place of considered craftsmanship. Here she talks us through her inspiration, overcoming online trolls and why choosing organic makes the most sense for you and the environment.
What was the inspiration behind Fatty’s and where the name came from?
Fatty’s Organic Spirits started as a passion project which was born from a desire I had to make great tasting organic gin. As someone who has a largely organic lifestyle, there was a huge frustration at the lack of organic options when it came to drinking spirits. There is a large choice of organic and natural wines on the market, but there was a hole within the spirits category. When you consider that everything which goes in to making gin and vodka grows from the ground, it was so important for me to know that it was free from any chemicals, pesticides and GMO’s. Not only is it better for you as the consumer to drink organic for this reason, but it is also much better for the environment and the wildlife that all the ingredients are farmed organically and sustainably. After the success of launching my first product (the London Dry Gin), which went on to win lots of international awards, I quit my job (after nearly 10 years there!) to go full time in to the business. I launched the London Dry just before Christmas in 2017 and 3.5 years later I now have a range of four products and work with some of the best independent bars in London as well as Michelin starred restaurants.
One question I am often asked is about the name! I am the youngest of 4 siblings, two of whom are brothers and they have called me Fatty for as long as I can remember! It is an endearing name which has stuck with me, so was an obvious choice when it came to naming my product.
Can you tell us a bit about what it’s like to be a female business owner in a very male-dominated industry?
Being a female business owner in itself I have found has its challenges. When I started out, I was only 29 and, at 5ft1, it can be challenging to be heard and taken seriously. This was not helped by the fact I was new to the industry and was doing things differently to the norm and challenging some of the traditional views. This actually led to me receiving quite a lot of social media abuse and being trolled by industry figures early on in the journey. This was very difficult to navigate both personally and as a business owner. It isn’t very often I come across other female owned drinks brands or women within the hospitality industry as a whole, it would be great to see more women in this area.
What are some of the ways you are seeking to live more sustainably, both personally and in your business?
Being sustainable has been a big part of the business since day one. It has been so interesting to see how knowledge and interest in sustainability has grown over this time. A great example of this is our bottles; initially I was told to wrap the bottle in a plastic wrap to create the bold colours but this was never going to work for me. After much research I went down the route of using organic ink which also goes on at much lower temperatures than normal ink so is far more environmentally friendly. At the time, I was quite literally told I was mad for doing this as it is much more expensive and as a self-funded business it would not work long term. This was a great lesson early on to stick to your brand values and beliefs, no matter what. I launched Fatty’s Organic Spirits about 4 months before the famous Attenborough documentary which highlighted the huge issue that single use plastic is having on our planet and after that it was amazing to see the messaging I was so passionate about being taken on board.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in the drinks industry?
Launching any new business has its challenges, but hard work and passion can get you a long way. The best advice is something that I was actually told really early on in my journey and something I still keep in mind today – surround yourself with likeminded people and ensure you have your group of cheerleaders who will be ready to support you at every turn. You’ll need them to help celebrate the highs with you and to pick you back up after the lows. Running a business is a rollercoaster but it is also one of the most rewarding things you can do… go for it!
With regards specifically to the drinks industry, I would say you need to find your USP and stick with it as it is a very competitive industry which is dominated by big companies. If you are a self-funded start up like me, you will not be able to compete with these big brands’ budgets, so you need to think creatively if you want to see your brand on the back bar next to household names!
It is a really fun industry to be a part of and is still really based on relationships which means you meet loads of great, talented people – from other brand owners to bar staff.
Do you have any other exciting products in the pipeline at Fatty's?
At the end of last year, I launched two new products, a vodka and winter spice orange gin. One benefit of the last year of lockdown and all of hospitality closing meant I had some time to go back to doing what I really love the most, experimenting with new flavours and ideas. That resulted in me bringing forward the launch of the new products, which initially was planned for 2021, and has meant we are able to hit the ground running with new offerings as the pubs and bars open back up. Experimenting with new products is something I will always do as ultimately that is why my business started, so watch this space.