You may remember that back in 2015 entrepreneur Louise McGuane wrote this guest post for LLG on the four things every female entrepreneur needs to know. At the time Louise, an ex-Very Important Person in a global marketing role at one of the world’s largest consumer-facing companies, was gearing up to launch her own Irish whiskey brand and distillery, The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company, on her parent’s farm in County Clare, Ireland.
Exactly two years later Louise now has an actual award-winning first release, a small batch of 7000 bottles of JJ Correy The Gael, which has taken those two years to develop. The Gael has not spent any time on their farm, rather it is their first attempt at beginning to express the house style of whiskey they would like to make in the coming years, once their own stock is mature.
It’s the first step on the way to producing their very own whiskey, and she’s back here on LLG to talk about her working week – she did a week not a day as it’s so varied.
Over to you Louise:
Monday: I wake as the Red-Eye from JFK is hitting the runway at Heathrow. I’ve spent the prior week in the U.S.A. meeting distributors and readying for our USA launch. We have a satellite office on the East Coast and a full -time marketing amd sales person deployed there as it is our most important market.
Luckily given the week ahead, I am very adept at sleeping on planes, even in economy, and I rarely suffer from jet-lag. It’s a pivotal time in my business as we go from being a start-up to a going concern with an actual product on the market.
I head to my home office where I’m prepping a presentation for the next day, catching up on admin and sending follow up emails from my meetings in the U.S.A.
Tuesday: I wake up and I coffee up, I am not at all one of those early morning entrepreneurs…but needs must. Whiskey is a capital- intensive business: to ensure that we can scale up at the pace I want to it is necessary to find capital partners. I head to a very luxurious office in Chelsea and spend a few hours telling our story and going over our financial model with some potential investors.
It is not at all Dragon’s Den style, rather these pitches are usually a means of sounding out if culturally the investor is a right fit for our business, and if we are the right fit for their portfolio. I have a debrief with our U.S. marketing sales manager and head home to prep for the next day.
Wednesday: Up early again and my husband and I bundle everything we can into a black cab and head off to our London launch event. We spend the whole day meeting media and top London bartenders tasting the whiskey with them and telling our story. We have a unique story to tell as Ireland’s only Whiskey Bonder and it is great to be finally getting it out there. The event ends at about 8PM we head home and I collapse into bed.
Thursday: Another pre-dawn wake-up call, and another plane from London back to our farm on the west coast of Ireland where we mature our whiskey and where I’m mostly based. I drive to the farm and head directly to the Rackhouse to prep a shipment. I’m the CEO and also our logistics manager right now so physically wrapping cases on pallets and doing the customs paperwork is all down to me.
I get the shipment loaded and hop on a train to Dublin for the Irish Whiskey Awards ceremony. I change, and do my hair and make-up on the train and arrive just in time to accept a Gold Medal for our whiskey. It’s the first award show we’ve entered and we beat some stiff competition in that category. I’m thrilled and go for a celebratory drink with some of my fellow Craft Spirit Producer buddies until far too late.
Friday: I’m up at 5.30AM (bleaurgh) and back to the farm as we are expecting a visit on site by The World’s Best Bar The Dead Rabbit. The guys behind it are writing a book about Irish Whiskey and they want to include us.
On the train I write a job description for a Logistics manager as this week has made it clear to me that it is time for us to staff up in that regard. I pick up Ruby our little dog who I have not seen in almost two weeks, she is an important part of maintaining my wellbeing.
The visit goes well, the guys get lots of content for their book, and I wave them off and then I breathe for the first time all week. I declare the week OVER, scoop up Ruby, and head to the stables where my horse is for some equine time. My husband and I split our time between London and Ireland: this weekend it is his turn to travel. He arrives at 9PM, we eat dinner and catch up on the week that was and fawn over Ruby.
The Weekend: The weekend brings a glorious post dawn wake-up call and the opportunity for some self-care. Running a start-up at this stage of growth can be all consuming, so we use the weekend to reconnect as a couple. We take walks on the beach with the dog and cook delicious meals for each other.
I’ll spend some time riding and grooming my horse to realign things in my head. It is how I find balance, keep fit and is the most effective form of meditation I have ever practiced. Weeks like this are the norm right now but won’t be forever. We’ll staff up to scale up, so being a Jack of all trades won’t last forever. Regardless I relish every moment as I know I’ll look back at them with fondness in years to come.
You can read previous A Day in the Life stories from some wonderful and inspiring female entrepreneurs, business owners and creatives here.