Monday Distillery a sparkling success
Samantha Manning places great faith in her savvy social media community. In fact, it was their response to her Osun Sparkling brand that led to yet another successful business launch.
When entrepreneurial Sam saw her crystal infused sparkling water being used by customers as an alcohol substitute, ideas quickly bubbled up for another beverage-related venture.
Monday Distillery was born and, in its first year, generated revenue of $200,000.
That was only the beginning for the South Geelong based distillery, with the brand on track to generate $1.2 million in revenue from second-year sales and predictions of four times that this year.
“OSun Sparkling was very much a female skewed brand,” Sam explains.
“It showed me this upswell of people wanting something sophisticated that was non-alcoholic.
“I said to my husband ‘right, there is something in this – let’s create a brand with the emotional connection of alcohol, that is good quality and sugar-free’.”
Sam prioritised developing superb packaging to set it apart on the shelf.
With a catchcry of “high spirits, clear minds” speaking to a growing audience seeking non-alcoholic beverages, the timing was ideal for the launch of the brand’s take on a classic gin and tonic.
The initial range has now grown to include gin (Classic G+T, Exotic Spice G+T), whisky (Dram & Dry, Dram Sour), tequila (Paloma), rum (Dark & Stormy), a cocktail garnish range and ‘hard seltzers’.
The newest addition is the Mezcalita.
“We’re the first in the world to bring out a non-alc ready-to-drink mezcal product so that’s something I’m pretty chuffed by,” Sam says proudly.
“I’ve found my passion for product development in the last five years.
“I focused on a convenience option … I wanted to launch with a ready-to-drink option as opposed to a non-alc spirit.
“I wanted to control the experience of people being able to pour the drink and it being the same every time.”
Two years of exceptional growth has followed and Sam’s hubby Haydn has joined the business. The couple met while working for fashion label Laboratory and their complementary skills make for a great partnership.
“We’re a two-person business and then we rely on a freelance economy with everyone else, from food technology through to manufacturing,” Sam says.
“Our manufacturer is in South Geelong, our third-party warehouse is in Lara and we try to do everything within a 100 kilometre radius of the facility, supporting local wherever we can.”
The couple, who have 15-month-old son Paddy, moved from Torquay to Port Fairy but Sam says this region is the home and “heartstrings” of their business.
It’s where she founded Cha Cha Tea – which has since been sold – and established OSun Sparkling which featured at Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP Health Summit.
Monday Distillery is going national in selected Dan Murphy’s stores from August.
“The culture of reducing and avoiding alcohol has so much support. You’ve got Dry July, Feb Fast, Ocsober and the sober curious movement,” Sam says.
“Am I surprised by our success?
“Probably not. I’ve got so many friends who’ve been pregnant who wanted something that made them feel included or something other than soft drink.
“Our customer isn’t someone who is sober by any means, they just have a balance. COVID 2.0 was interesting for us, our online store went bonkers because everyone let loose in lockdown at the start and then went ‘you know what, this is not good for my mental health or the budget’.”
A lifelong learner with a passion for building brands, Sam foresees a bright future for Monday Distillery.
“Our biggest competitor is a huge team of ex-Coke employees who have the Melbourne-based brand Lyre’s,” she says.
“They’ve just been valued at around $180 million so I always say to Haydn ‘if we play our cards right and do a few things over the next few years, it’s pretty cool to be a two-person team that is disrupting the liquor space’.”
Monday Distillery is stocked locally at Peaches in Torquay, Bottles & Barrels in Geelong West, The Wine Store in Barwon Heads and Dan Murphy’s stores. Discover more at mondaydistillery.com or Instagram @mondaydistillery.