About Time You Met: Melanie Goldsmith, Co-Founder of Smith & SinclairBy Angelica Malin
Smith and Sinclair create gummy sweets with an added slosh of booze. From their edible cocktails to their unmissable immersive experiences, the brand connect people with their inner child, and each other, through products that entertain, excite and enthrall. We chatted to co-founder Melanie Goldsmith, the lady behind the first alcoholic cocktail gummy, about the inspiration behind starting the company, disrupting the food and beverage sector, and the pros and cons of social media:
Where did the idea of Smith & Sinclair come from?
Emile and I hosted a board game dating night in East London. It was pre-Tinder, when dating had just started to pique online interest. We wanted to rebel and give adults a chance to still have fun and socialise, but without the time constraints that speed dating throws up.
Our nights were hosted in cocktails bars, which of course meant people had a drink in one hand, leaving just one hand free to play with the board games. Emile is a chef and had always experimented with jelly, so we cooked up the ‘edible cocktail gummy’ – grown up ‘pick’n’mix’ to serve at our dating events.
The Alcoholic Cocktail Gummies gathered interest from guests who kept asking to buy the products for their events/ clients and businesses. At one event we met the organiser of London’s Berwick Street Market and convinced them to let us set up a little store. After a couple of weekends at the market we had saved enough money to build a small website. Within two days of the website being live we had an order for 20,000 from Imbibe Live. We thought it was a mistake but it turned out their marketing manager had put an order in for their big marketing activation in 2014. It was a ‘suck it and see’ campaign where 20,000 Imbibe Live invites had a Gummy attached. We sent out three different flavours and people tweeted in their guess of flavour to win a bespoke cocktail flavour to be made.
Fast forward four years the business has grown from just two employees to 14, we have brought three ‘category-first’ products to market and raised £2.4 million. This puts us in a great position as we take on the next steps of our journey in the US, with an ambition of delivering an 80% uplift in sales YOY and working towards a forecasted turnover of £15 million by 2020.
Why do you want to disrupt the food and beverages sector?
What you consume and how you consume has long lasting memories. Alcohol is a prominent part of society, yet it hasn’t had a huge innovation other than ‘alcopops’. Millenials want playful gifts, they want innovative flavours, surprise and delight – I’m astounded the food and beverage sector hasn’t been more disruptive yet.
Our five new selection boxes incorporate some of the classic flavours like Gin & Tonic, as well as some new and exciting flavours that we think will turn peoples heads like our Mocha Espresso Martini! For me it’s all about creativity, producing flavours we love and consuming them in a totally unique way. Our newly launched Edible Fragrances are designed to be used as a spray on garnish for cocktails but they’re also a great body perfume too… which can then be licked off.
Why do you want to make adult more fun?
From a young age I found the thought of adulthood mundane – I was an adrenaline seeker. At school I loved drama, I loved the freedom, creativity and stimulation it allowed. As you get older, you have less time to be creative and explore different avenues, a lot of what you do as an adult is routine. We want to turn the mundane into the exciting; we wanted to find a way to put a smile on someone’s face. It’s important to break through the routine and bring back the enjoyment and excitement you felt as a kid.
How would you describe your working style?
We have an open plan office. I think it’s important to move around and have a collaborative working environment. Our office is always buzzing; it’s creative, there’s music playing, we talk to each other, share ideas and successes. I like to laugh at least once a day – that’s not too much to ask, is it?
Where do you stand on social media – can’t live without it, or an evil necessity?
Personally speaking I’m not an avid social media person however, I am starting to realise the importance of it from a personal profile and networking perspective so am trying to warm in slowly. From a brand point of view Smith & Sinclair has such a strong social presence and has worked really hard in creating an identity and personality of our own. Our content is really strong and I’m very proud of this.
What skills do you look for in people that you work with?
I look for people that are passionate about our company, understand our values and what we want to achieve. I’m always drawn to people who have a hunger to learn and are ambitious.
What do you love about having your own company?
I love to learn and see people around me improve. I’ve also become totally addicted to feeling out of my depth and thrive off of this. I enjoy supporting others, as together, we help the business to grow.
How much do you love sweets?
I have a massive sweet tooth – some may say I’m addicted. I’d take a sweet over an alcoholic drink, though I do love a cocktail!
Outside of Smith & Sinclair, what’s the best food and drink experience you’ve had in the last two weeks?
I love the cocktail menu at Happiness Forgets in Hoxton.
Where is your favourite place to eat?
Padella in London Bridge
What is your favourite bar?
Hawksmoor basement bar in Shoreditch.
What’s your five-year plan?
We will continue to push the boundaries on what it means to create innovative products that make being an ‘adult’ more fun; whether it’s food, drink, sex or beauty! Over the next five years I am likely to be between the UK & US, building amazing retail spaces, which take consumers on a multi-sensory journey that can’t be experienced online.
Who are you most inspired by?
Competition – I am really inspired about people who succeed in my space.
For more information on Smith & Sinclair, see here.