The ideas behind Slake have taken shape over many years, but the catalyst to make it a reality was returning home to the U.K. after 18 months living and working in Australia. The prospect of returning to my home-town of Shoreham-by-Sea, unemployment and moving back in with my parents was, like most good cocktails, bitter sweet, but a scenario that many people of my millennial generation (just about…) are becoming more and more familiar with. I had big dreams, I wanted to make a difference, but I couldn’t make ends meet, let alone provide security and a home for my family. That is why I was so lucky to get onto an Enterprise course with the Prince’s Trust. I was taught a lot of the skills necessary to plan and run a business as well as given a mentor for further support. This was a truly invaluable and a formative time for someone who had spent most of their life in academia. Along the way I realised many things that were holding me back, but perhaps none more important than the knowledge that aiming to be financially successful was compatible with a social conscience. In fact, it is imperative to look after yourself before you are able to help others. Pursuing a business that values alternative metrics of success like sustainability, innovation, well-being, education & community must also be economically viable to succeed and achieve these aims. It may not be easy, but it’s possible to pursue the elusive ‘win-win’. If you can learn to get out of your own way. After the Enterprise course, I wrote a business plan with much help from my mentor, pitched the business plan to the Trust and secured a small start up loan. This with the last of my savings and help from friends and family was what allowed me to embark on the journey and start Slake, what used to be my Granddad’s old workshop became SlakeHQ. A scientist turned forager & distiller setting up shop in a garage turned pico-distillery in Sussex.
It is my belief that high quality food and drink, thoughtfully made, with transparently sourced sustainable ingredients is the way of the future and something that customers not only want, but need. Without the deeper connection to the land and environment that transparent food systems provide, we are cut off from ’cause and effect’ and we can’t make the decisions that will ensure our food systems remain sustainable for generations to come. My hope is that the way I make spirits at Slake, the ethos and why I use the processes and ingredients I do will resonate with customers. In turn, igniting the interest of consumers and the local community in their environment. As a start-up company, embarking on a journey towards sustainability adds many challenges, but being transparent, optimistic and recognising the incremental improvements we can make will undoubtedly bring dividends in due course. Sometimes it’s not as much about the destination, as about the journey itself. If you are interested in being part of our journey, particularly if you are a local producer or land owner, please get in touch.