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Stort Valley Spirits

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

We're thrilled to share a newly formed artisan spirits company bravely launched in the chaos of 2020 and jam-packed full of flavour. Founder, Emma Robson answers our Ten Questions Scribbled on the Back of a Pandemic Postcard.

Ten questions hastily scribbled on the back of a pandemic postcard with Emma Robson

1.What has 2020 taught you so far?

At the start of 2020, I was on a beach in Mexico, planning more holidays and several work trips to America with a company I’d been with for 18 years. Fast forward 10 months, and I am running my own business, Stort Valley Spirits, after having been made redundant. It would have been easy to focus on the negatives, but instead I pursued a lifelong dream of setting up a small company offering a quality product that also helps support the community (we donate a percentage of our profits to a local charity). Because, while this year has been challenging for everyone, a real sense of community spirit has emerged. I also learnt that I am resourceful; in just a few months Stort Valley Spirits has gone from strength to strength.

2. What is the best small business ‘oxygen mask’ piece of advice you could share?

Communicate – and believe in your brand. We know the provenance of all our products and are passionate about them. Of course, there are some products for which we have a personal preference, but extensive research and taste testing makes us confident that we’ll get repeat orders for all of them. If you don’t believe in your products, how can you expect others to? Equally, to build your brand you need to communicate. Network in the right places, focus on your target market – and share the love you have for your business!

3. When is the last time you laughed out loud and why?

Because I laugh a lot, this is quite a difficult question. But the biggest and most recent laugh-out-loud moment came courtesy of a Zoom call with our nephews Jacob and Milo, aged five and four. Jacob was telling us about the baking they had done. It transpired that he’d given a cupcake to my dad – which seemed a kind gesture. Well, until he announced that there was a charge of £1!

4. What (& where) would be your dream meal?

Under normal circumstances, I’d say the tasting menu at The Fat Duck. However, this year it’s one that I think is shared by many: Christmas dinner with our family.

5. How do you think 2020 will be remembered?

The year we didn’t think could happen. When our neighbours became our friends. When it wasn’t about big businesses, but small suppliers who picked up the pieces when we couldn’t get essentials. When the world changed the way we work and live. Some changes are for the better – hopefully working from home will become increasingly the norm, meaning we can spend more time with our families.

6. What’s the best joke you’ve ever heard?

I don’t know many jokes, so I asked my nephews and Jacob came up with: “What do you call a car with no wheels? A car that doesn’t go.” It was pretty good for a five-year-old, and did make me laugh.

Emma served Stort Valley Spirits on her wedding day

7. If your business life story was going to be played in a film of your life, who would play you and what would the film be called?

Ruth Jones. She’s funny, genuine and versatile. And I established Stort Valley Spirits not long after my 40th birthday, so I quite like the title ‘Business Begins at Forty’.

8. Sum up your business style in five words or less

Communicative, passionate and community minded.

9. What’s the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen in your life?

As part of our honeymoon we went on safari in South Africa. A herd of elephants crossed the road on both sides of our jeep. There were probably around 45, ranging from tiny babies to the matriarch of the herd. We hardly dared breathe, particularly as one turned and stared directly at us before slowly plodding on.

10.What’s the first thing you will do when we come out of this pandemic?

Give our families big hugs. We’ve always been close to my parents, my sister and her family, and my husband’s Nan. Not spending time with them like we would normally do has been really tough.

Emma's favourite product at the moment is the Riverside Spirits Advent Calendar which allows you to try the full Riverside Spirits range at a special price of £69.95 (RRP £80). Buy it here

Stort Valley Spirits is an Essex-based company founded by Emma Robson in 2020, offering a range of award-winning artisan liqueurs. These are handmade using high quality ingredients and are suitable for vegans. Our goal is to introduce our range to the Herts, Essex and London area. Shopping local and supporting the community is key, and every month we donate a percentage of our profits to a local charity.

If you would like a chance to be featured in our Virtual Christmas Market or want to nominate a small business who you think our members would love, then just fill out the simple form and we'll get back to you!

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