Melanie (aged 26) and her co-founder Emile have created a completely new and original way to enjoy cocktails that are already creating quite a stir. Smith & Sinclair's cocktail confectionery, or sweets with a high alcohol content, are basically edible cocktails! The pastilles are already selling in a number of UK stores including Harrods and Harvey Nichols and include the likes of over 32 alcohol brands. Melanie tells us a bit about her candy for grown-ups.
Hi Melanie. Can you tell us a bit about your education? And your co-founder? How did you two meet?
My background was always in the arts. I was a jazz singer who got into the production and logistics aspect of events and studying music/ arts management at uni/ MA. Emile left school at 17 to start working in restaurants and worked his way up from pubs to Junior Sous at rosette restaurant in London. Emile’s from Cardiff and we met whilst I was studying there.
Can you explain the concept of your cocktail pastilles?
Smith & Sinclair's melt-in-the-mouth alcoholic pastilles
are gluten, dairy and preservative free and come in six cocktail flavours using three spirits - rum, gin and whisky
. With 6-8%abv per pastille we are the first people to retail a solid product with this high retention of alcohol and a 12 month shelf life. Twists on classic cocktails include Gin & Tonic, Mixed Berry Daiquiri and Whisky Sour. With the ability to produce almost any cocktail, Smith & Sinclair have worked with over 32 alcohol brands over the last year innovating signature serves.
How did you come up with the idea for Smith & Sinclair, and how did you get started?
We had a desire to excite adult audiences and disrupt a market (alcohol) which has been deprived of groundbreaking innovation for years
. The actual idea started as a bi-product to a series of dating ‘board game nights’ which were all about adult play and excitement and we wanted to provide adult goodie bags which reflected the feeling of being at the events- creating a continual event experience beyond the moment itself.
How are you financed?
We made a very small personal investment initially and have one loan from Virgin startups
Where do you sell your pastilles?
We sell at a number of stores including Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, and Wholefoods. We do not sell our pastilles on the High Street.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Cash flow is always a concern. As we are self funded we need to make sure we meticulously plan to ensure our business is always maintaining profit.
Are you working on any new flavours or products?
We are currently in new product development for our new spirit collection coming out in September.
Are you currently hiring?
We are currently looking for an admin professional and a third chef.
And lastly, your best piece of advice for other young entrepreneurs?
Stop planning and go do.
You can always fix mistakes but you can never plan for the unexpected. Also just say yes
and figure it out later.
Thanks Melanie! You can also buy Smith & Sinclair's alcoholic pastilles on their online shop here.
Authors note: alcohol should be consumed responsibly and in moderation by legally aged adults