Made in Britain: African-flavoured gin brand, Black Crowned Gin

Temi Shogelola of Black Crowned Gin speaks about the challenges of running a business whilst also working a full-time job.

Tell us about your business?

My name is Temi Shogelola and I am the founder of Black Crowned Gin. My business is exploring how classic British beverages can be infused with the flavours, spices and botanical from African. I am starting with Gin.

What is the story behind your business?

I joined the Civil Service in 2015, right out of university. At the time I was the youngest and one of five women in a team of 100 plus people and was on a three-month contract. To extend my contract, I had to mingle with the senior managers and most of this took place in the pub after work. I did not feel comfortable drinking alcohol with colleagues so for my first few weeks I did not go. A colleague advised that if I wanted my contract extended, I needed to be more social, and recommended going to the pub, where I ordered a lemonade and pretended that it was a gin and tonic. I kept this act going for a month or so and managed to get my contract extended for another six months so to celebrate, I decided to try a real gin and tonic. It was love at first taste.

My business was founded during the pandemic but rather that starting I decided to wait it out until we knew more about life post Brexit and Covid-19. During this time, I shadowed several business owners from start-ups to established brands to develop my business acumen.

What sets you apart from your competition?

I am building a gin brand that has the African diaspora flavours at its centre. It is offering its consumers an opportunity to try new flavours and learn more about the diversity across Africa and the diaspora.

How do you see your market evolving over the next few years?

Over the next few years, I feel like the gin trend will continue to grow because people are still discovering gin as a beverage. Gin entrepreneurs are still exploring and innovating different flavours.

What’s the hardest thing about running a business?

As a single founder, it is having to do it all whilst holding down a full-time job. There are days where I wish I had a co-founder to lean on.

Have you received any financial support for your business?

To start off my business, I successfully applied and received funding from the British Business Bank.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

Aside from taking the leap to start this business, it’s trying to build a British supply-chain. I am finding out that a lot of businesses in the UK rely on supplies from Europe and with the delay at the boarder it is affecting my stock. So I am having to consider this when putting in my orders.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

It might sound cliché, but I wouldn’t change anything. Everything that’s happened so far has truly been a lesson I needed to learn. Starting a business is so far from what I know, and I have learnt so much so quickly. I have made mistakes and bounced back and I look forward to making mistakes, learning and growing.

What has been your proudest achievement so far?

My proudest achievement so far would be getting funding for my business. Imposter syndrome really had me doubting whether I had an idea worth investing in. Over the few weeks it took me to get through the five or so stages of the application, getting through each stage was difficult but I did it. Getting that email that my application was successful made me realise that I had no reason to doubt my ability, my vision and my brand.

What are your hopes for your business in the next five years?

Aside from the usual business growth in people, sales and distribution, I would like to set up a Womxn in Distillery Programme – A fully funded one year programme for women 18-21 to gain their foundations in distilling programming. Also, I’d like to have a three BA programme in Distilling and a one MA programme for women looking to become experts in distilling. I would like for my company to be a Top 5 Inclusive Employer and I would like for my gin to served onboard British Airways flights.

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