Want to meet the people behind Gin Festival? Hayley Brown is the second in a series of interviews with the people that bring you your favourite gin experience.
What’s your name?
I’m Hayley Brown the subscriptions manager for Gin Festival/Gin Explorer.
How did you join the Gin Festival team?
I joined back in January 2016 when Jym and Marie were looking for somebody to project manage a new arm of the business. They’d identified a gap in the market for a gin subscription service and needed someone to grow it to fruition. I came onboard and Gin Explorer started from there.
Since I’ve been there from the start I’ve had the chance to really build Gin Explorer, from an idea and some sample bottles filled with water, to a really great product with more than a thousand customers. We wanted to provide a guided journey through the world of craft gin, letting people sample and taste without having to dive in head first. We really are tour guides for gin and the brand identity grew organically from that.
So from that idea I went out to Failsworth Antique Market and bought all the gear to tie into the great age of exploration theming and build and decorate the stand for events. The brand has sort of organically developed since then and we’re now closer to a Pan Am feel, still about travel and exploration but a little smoother, a little more stylish and sophisticated.
Now I manage Gin Explorer which, on a day to day basis can be very varied, really no day is the same. I’m always on the hunt for new gins, tonics or anything that gin lovers would appreciate. I manage the team that makes the boxes, organise the shipping, help with the marketing and take the time to make sure the brands involved in Gin Explorer are happy, whether they’re big established brands or brand new distilleries, everyone gets care and attention to showcase their product.
It sounds like you get to sample a lot of gin.
That is one of the perks, yes.
What’s been your best discovery?
Nelson’s definitely. Not only is it a really delicious gin but it was very new when we found it so it was quite a discovery for Gin Explorer to be the first people to really champion how great it is. Plus they not only make a great gin but run a gin school, which opened up some terrific opportunities for our Gin Explorers and the staff at Gin Festival too.
Is that your favourite gin then?
It’s up there. I also really like Dictador Colombian Ortodoxy Premium Aged Gin which is a really smooth and interesting spirit. I tried that for the first time as a customer at Gin Festival Liverpool.
Is that the best thing about what you do?
No, the most satisfying part of my job is getting the boxes out to customers each month and seeing their feedback, and knowing that each month is better and better.
What’s the feedback been like?
Really positive! People really adore their gin boxes and seem super happy with the Gin Explorer boxes. My favourite are the people who have set up their own clubs. They subscribe with a few of their friends and then they all meet up once a month to have gin nights.
It’s also taken off as a gift because it’s an affordable product but it feels like luxury, ideal as a treat.
Shout out to Jane Bowcock by the way who is our number one fan. I got a chance to meet her at Gin Festival London and she is adorable.
Any unusual feedback?
There was the one man whose dog ate his biltong….we gave him some free biltong to make up for it.
What is it like to work for Gin Festival?
It’s amazing, the camaraderie, not just the staff but the customers too, blows me away. Everyone is always amazed when they come to a festival, by the amount of gins we bring, and the amazing structures we set up. That we can deliver that experience relentlessly, week after week is a true testament to how well we all work together. I’ve never worked anywhere like it.
The first event I worked was London February 2016 which was Gin Festival’s biggest event to date and the first venture out for Gin Explorer. It was huge, it was exciting and it was more than I could have expected. Then we went back in the summer and it was somehow even bigger and better, and I would never have thought we could even do that.
It’s very fast paced but it is definitely exciting.
What do you do when you’re not hunting out new gins?
I play goal defence for a netball team. We came silver in the league last year and have just started the new season. I also love food, all the food!
Thanks very much.
Fancy working for Gin Festival? You can get the latest info on vacancies at our careers page.
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