Becky Davies – From Bartender to Head Of Spirit Development

In Editorial, Featured

We had a chat to our long-time buddy Becky Davies about her new company and how she got there.

 A couple of weeks ago social media was awash with news of a new drinks company launching. We didn’t cover it because, well at the moment they haven’t announced their brands or even the company name (for the purposes of this article we have called it New Company due to lack of a funny alternative) so there wasn’t a whole lot to tell you.

One of the reasons for the amount of coverage was the woman heading up New Company, Becky Davies. Manchester based Becky has gone from bartender to New Company head honcho in only a few years, so we thought we’d have a chat to her about the new gig and how she got there.

The finalists in Ibiza in 2012

We first got to know her over in Ibiza at the 2012 Final of the legendary Gin Mare Mediterranean Inspirations comp (ohhh how we miss you). She didn’t win, but being gentlemen we weren’t going to mention why, but there was no doubt in the mind of anyone there that she was a great bartender.

However brand work called, but not the usual brand ambassador route. This is why we wanted to chat to her. To show any bartender out there looking for a new role that there is more than one way to climb to the top in a booze company.

 BarLifeUK: So then, New Company. Give us the 1 minute pitch.

Becky Davies: We are building a portfolio of premium, quality drink brands that offer a clear point of difference, are commercially relevant and strive to drive positive change, whether that be taking efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, ethical sourcing of ingredients, sustainable production methods or giving back to charity. Each brand is making a difference in one way or another, and we are building a company culture that complements that.

BLUK: Are the brands you are looking at going to be new to the UK, familiar brands formerly with other companies or a mixture of both?

 BD: A mixture of the two. Our goal is to bring to market some truly unique products, but we’ve also acquired a couple of brands that some of the trade will be familiar with – but in any case these will adhere to our criteria of being dedicated to making a difference in some way. At the same time, we aim to build long-term partnerships with anyone we work with, so the brand owners themselves are a key part to our decision making.

BLUK: ‘Launched in a global pandemic’ is going to be a line in every New Company press release for a few years, was it as painful to do as it sounds?

 BD: To be honest, it has probably helped me in some ways. I’ve had more time to plan and really labour on some of my decisions. That being said, I’ve written approximately 15 versions of the same business plan over the past few months which has been painful at times! I’ve been locked in my office at home from morning to night with the other half creeping in at various times of the day to ensure I’m eating (God bless Foz). Apart from the regular booze deliveries and the cat trying to sit on my keyboard every half hour I’ve had zero distractions.

The hardest part has probably been trying to bond with a whole new team over a computer screen and learning the inner workings of the wider business, one of which that is completely different to what I’m used to. Some people I work with on a daily basis have already become friends, but I’ve still not actually met in the flesh! So surreal!

BLUK: How did the idea come about? Did you approach them, vice-versa, or a drunken 3 am conversation in Crazy Pedro’s that actually panned out?

BD: Haha! I’ve had some of my best ideas come out of the latter! Believe it or not, my partnership with Kingsland Drinks was a really organic process, as has been the coming together of the portfolio. Kingsland were looking to diversify their offering and delve into the world of spirits and  I was looking to develop my skill set and really establish my core values and beliefs. Luckily, they really align with Kingsland’s values; from the importance of their people and the way in which they operate to their future plans for the wider business. I really like them, and that’s so important to me.

BLUK: We first got to know you properly in 2012 in Ibiza at the Gin Mare Final. At that point you were hot property in the UK bar scene, how long was it after this that you moved into brand work and what was the catalyst that made you do it?

 BD: Haha I knew you would bring this up……surprised you haven’t mentioned the obvious yet, but I’ll dodge that one for now.

The Gin Mare competition opened up doors for me, for sure. I started to do some part-time work for CASK and the obligatory BBC Good Food Show stints that appear to be every reps initiation (or punishment!). From there, Mangrove came along and the rest was history. Entering cocktail competitions certainly elevates you to be seen for jobs like this (even if you forget the spirit your supposed to be showcasing!).

BLUK: Sometimes it seems that every young bartender wants to be a Brand Ambassador, but you moved into the sales side of industry becoming the very impressive sounding On-Trade Sales Director at Mangrove Global. Why sales as opposed to brand work?

BD: I can’t pinpoint what made me go into sales rather than ambassadorial work at the beginning apart from the fact that I come from a background of market traders! Ha! I was given some advice early on that the ambassador life wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and can often be a lonely job that involves living out of a suitcase. I got offered a couple of roles but I think I figured out that a rep (for the right company) is also an ambassador and presented the opportunity to learn many more skills (and have lots more trips) in the process. Working on a portfolio of brands really excited me because when you have upwards of 10 products to talk about, there’s something for everyone.

BLUK: Obviously, we want people to serve cocktails until they are 80 years old but that isn’t going to happen, so for those looking to move into life as a day walker what advice would you give them?

The studious look

BD: Do your research. Talk to people who work for the company and people who have left, and get an overall feel for the company culture. Not all account manager, sales rep or bdm roles are the same, it really depends on the actual business itself.

Assess what makes you happy and pursue a role that enables you to do this – then it’ll never really feel like work. I know so many people who have started working at a company thinking a role is the same as another because the title is a match, but the truth is you need to get to grips with the company culture to see if it’s for you and you HAVE TO like who you will be working with day to day.

BLUK: Anything you wish you had done more of, or differently, behind the bar before you moved onto global domination?

BD: Haha not quite global domination! I wish I’d entered more competitions. They were so much fun regardless how much of a nervous wreck I was beforehand. I also regret not doing a stint in London. I was so close on numerous occasions and I guess if I hadn’t have gotten the job at Mangrove that would have been the next step for me.

BLUK: Do you miss bartending? Do you still pull a shift every now and then to keep your hand in?

 BD: I really do miss it, and that’s certainly something I regret not continuing. I did the odd event when I was a rep but I wish I’d kept it up. I’d probably end up in hospital if I tried to do a full shift now!

BLUK: When will we be able to tell everyone what you have in the portfolio at the New Company?

 BD: Oh my gosh, I am so desperate to share this. I’m also absolutely terrible at keeping secrets too so it’s probably a good thing I’ve been locked down or everyone would already know. I plan to share more in the next week or so, including the name, and share a few of the brands we have on board. I’m so, so happy with the portfolio, I literally can’t wait to share it with everyone. I just need to recruit some superstars to help me spread the word now.

BLUK: See we got through the whole interview without mentioning you forgetting to put Gin Mare into your drink at the final…..

BD: DAMN IT!

We will, of course, be bringing you details of the new company and its brands as soon as we hear (although if the company isn’t called Forgotten Spirit then a massive trick has been missed). If you like what you have heard from Becky and would like to join her on her new adventures, then she is after some staff.

Senior Sales and Marketing roles are available on London and Manchester. If you are interested please send you CV to becky.davies@kingsland-drinks.com

 

 

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