Pouring her efforts into home deliveries was just the tonic for the owner of an independent real fruit spirits company during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Katharine Wilding, founder and director of Angel Feathers on Moel Famau, Denbighshire, was forced to rethink her business strategy when COVID-19 took hold of the country in March.
To that point she had supplied local pubs, restaurants, and shops, but when they closed sales dropped almost overnight.
Katharine immediately applied for an online licence – though due to the pandemic it was a slow process – and took the opportunity to rebrand the firm.
Sales of gin and vodka have since rocketed, as has the amount of fruit she has produced; Katharine will continue with the home deliveries as it is a service popular with householders across the region.
“I was just producing for wholesale but, as with other businesses I’ve spoken, to the Coronavirus drove me to change the way I operated in order to keep things going,” she said.
“I was selling what I had made and did not have the opportunity to increase my stock, so I took advantage of that by making more for when the time was right.”
“That has paid off because demand is high, and the warmer weather plays a part. The heatwave we had in the Spring would have been perfect for us – we lost a lot of sales there – but slowly things are improving, and home deliveries continue to play a major part in that.”
No machinery or technology is used in the making of the Angel Feathers range, which includes flavours of rhubarb, apple, tayberry, blackcurrant and now for the first time… chuckleberry.
Katharine does it all by hand, and that was a labour of love this year because of the sheer amounts of fruit grown on site.
“I don’t know if it was the weather, but I had double the rhubarb and tayberry,” she said.
“Chuckleberry has been popular because people are curious about it, and across the board I’ve seen a rise in sales, which has given me peace of mind.”
Katharine added: “Given the uncertainty over a possible lockdown or second wave of Coronavirus the home delivery side is going to be vital.
“I’m just glad I now have everything in place so I can keep supplying if a similar situation arises in the future.”
The second annual Taste North East Wales is taking place online this year after organisers Clwydian Range Food and Drink and Llangollen and Dee Valley Food and Drink, with the support of Cadwyn Clwyd, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB and the local authorities of Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire, decided to host a virtual celebration to ensure the health and safety of participants.
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Visit www.angelfeathers.co.uk/ and follow @realfruitspirit on social media for the latest from Angel Feathers.