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Crowning cocktails

Dubliner Laura McCarthy established Drink Botanicals Ireland in 2017, a company that produces garnishes for cocktails and it has been growing steadily and even winning awards ever since. She tells her story to Drinks Industry Ireland

Laura McCarty, founder of Drink Botanicals

Tell us about your business in less than 100 words.

Drink Botanicals Ireland is an award-winning Irish business specialising in a range of premium dried garnishes, and natural-based syrups for garnishing cocktails, mocktails, cakes, teas and much more! We supply retailers, off-licenses, bars, restaurants, and hotels across Ireland, the United Kingdom, the USA, and more recently, the UAE.

What was the motivation to start your own business?

Since I was young, I’ve always wanted to run my own business. When I was around 8, I would have weekly yard sales outside my house and also sell unwanted family items on eBay! When studying Marketing & Business at TU Dublin at the age of 20, during the ‘gin boom’, I noticed that many bartenders were serving fancy gin and tonics with botanicals, and I wanted consumers to be able to replicate this experience in the comfort of their own home. Drink Botanicals Ireland was then born, starting with one product, ‘The Gin Fusion Kit,’ a small kit containing botanicals to garnish a G&T at home. Since then, we have grown our range to over 50+ products.

 While studying in TU Dublin she noticed a gap in the market for drinks and cocktail garnishes

Where are you based?

I’m from Ranelagh, Dublin, and our first office was also located there. Recently, I purchased our new HQ in Dublin 12.

How many employees do you have?

We have five full-time employees and two part-time employees, with plans to increase my team size this year as we expand further.

Who is your target market?

Our target market includes bars, restaurants, hotels, bakeries, and retail stores.

How do you market your product?

Our marketing strategy involves a multi-channel approach. We regularly attend trade shows to showcase our products, establish relationships with distributors and reach new markets. We also leverage online platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon to engage with consumers and expand our reach.

Tell us why your product is unique?

Our products are unique due to the variety of garnishes we offer and our focus on only supplying the highest quality.
One customer in the US recently left us a review on Amazon stating they have tried a lot of dehydrated oranges and we offer the best quality by far, a testament to our commitment to only offering the very best!

What is a typical day in your life like?

Throughout the week, my days typically entail working closely with my team. We hold regular meetings to discuss ongoing projects and strategies, ensuring smooth operations and making decisions that propel the business forward.
A significant portion of my focus revolves around driving the business forward, particularly through expanding into new markets and increasing our exports. Additionally, I allocate time for engaging with customers, attending events, and seeking new partnerships.
In the initial stages of my business, I was heavily involved in production, but as we expanded, I embraced delegation and shifted my focus towards guiding the overall direction of the company. It’s been a valuable lesson in driving our success.

What is the most stressful thing about starting a new business?

I think that managing all aspects and risks, particularly in the early stages, can be quite stressful! Initially, wearing multiple hats and juggling various tasks was overwhelming. However, transitioning from working in the business to working on the business allowed me to adopt a more proactive approach. Learning to delegate definitely helped me alleviate the burden, enabling focus on strategic decision-making and business development, driving expansion and innovation.

What has been the best moment since starting the business?

 Laura receiving the Dublin City Enterprise Award for Drink Botanicals

Several milestones stand out to me, and each marks a significant achievement in my business’s growth to date.
Our successful expansion into export markets has been a big milestone, showcasing the global appeal of our products and our brand.
Also representing Dublin City in the National Enterprise awards with the Local Enterprise Office and receiving accolades such as the SFA (Small Firms Association) ‘Outstanding Small Business’ this year has been immensely rewarding, validating our hard work and dedication.
Securing a distribution contract with Safco International in Dubai this year was a testament to our commitment to international expansion and opened doors to new opportunities in the Middle East market. Finally, ranking 4th best seller in our category on Amazon USA was a proud moment!

What is the five year plan for the business?

Over the next five years, our focus is on further strengthening our foothold in key export markets, including the USA, UAE, UK, and Europe. Building on our success, I aim to deepen relationships with distributors, retailers and consumers in these regions, expanding our product reach and market penetration. We are committed to continuous innovation, with plans to develop new products that resonate with our customers and meet evolving market demands. Ultimately, our goal is to sustain our growth trajectory while remaining agile and responsive to market dynamics, positioning Drink Botanicals Ireland as a global powerhouse in the coming years!

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