I hope you’re all having a good week. Today I’m back with another Behind the Biz interview for you. If you’re new to Prettygreentea, Behind the Biz is my weekly interview series where I discover new businesses, the people behind them and their business journey.
Today I’m chatting with Amanda Thomson, the founder of Thomson & Scott Skinny – the home of Skinny Champagne and Skinny Prosecco.
Please tell us about your business.
Thomson & Scott Skinny is the brand behind Skinny Champagne and Skinny Prosecco. The organically produced and vegan friendly, premium sparkling wine successfully launched at Selfridges last year. Ever since, we have expanded continually and are currently entering the U.S market.
At Thomson & Scott we are committed to greater transparency in both the products we produce and our labelling process. Whilst consumers care about the sourcing and quality of their diet choices, they rarely seem to question these values in a bottle. Our mission is to reduce sugar levels across the wine industry and push for more transparency in wine labelling.
Where did the inspiration for Thomson & Scott Skinny come from?
Having been raised by a health-conscious mother on a vegetarian, no sugar diet, I have always been enthusiastic about leading a healthy lifestyle. Although I found it considerably easy to maintain an organic and low sugar diet in terms of the foods that I ate, I found it very difficult to identify what was in the wine and alcohol that I enjoyed.
This is what inspired me to create Thomson & Scott Skinny – to provide health-conscious consumers like myself with the opportunity to enjoy a premium sparkling wine that is vegan-friendly, fully organic and cuts unnecessary sugar from the production process. We now offer a range of delicious premium sparkling wines for our customers to discover and indulge in.
How did you decide upon the name of your business?
We wanted a name that was unconventional; one that would encourage a fun and relaxed conversation. Yes, I was in the wine business but it still felt very traditional and formal, I wanted to be able to operate outside of this margin and to engage with people from all over the world.
The official term “zero dosage” or “Brut Nature” had no impact on me, which probably meant it wouldn’t strike a chord with countless other consumers like myself. I needed something that would be understood by my friends outside of the wine industry. I thought “if they get it” everyone else would as well. The name Skinny was catchy and easily recognisable as the modern vernacular for a healthier option.
I think that, in today’s diverse and increasingly conscious market, the majority of our clients can relate to our brand name and appreciate the benefits of our products. We are not merely trying to sell a brand name; we aspire to encourage a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle on a global level.
What did you do before starting Thomson & Scott Skinny?
Before Thomson & Scott I worked as an Arts Broadcaster at the BBC. It was a great experience, as I had always been passionate about the media world. I spent many days interviewing influential celebrities, whilst sampling wine, champagne and canapés. It gave me a definite taste of the champagne lifestyle and also the realization that it wasn’t a very healthy one. I progressively became more analytical about the quality of wine. This is what ultimately encouraged me to learn about the wine industry in real depth.
Did you always plan to set up your own business?
I guess, as my mother was a health food entrepreneur herself, long before the subject became such a fashionable topic of conversation, you would think that perhaps, ‘yes’ would be the answer. But the truth is, I didn’t initially think about it in much detail. I suppose healthy and organic food was in my DNA. I had this great idea and made it work, everything just formed itself perfectly around this vision. It has truly been amazing to watch the business come to life and grow. My team is great and I do give them a large amount of responsibility. Still there are occasions where you have to step in and call the shots.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
The biggest challenge with Thomson & Scott was to get it going. Although right now everyone is talking about clean eating and unrefined sugars, at the time of my launch not everyone was as enthusiastic about it. For a long time, people were sceptical, particularly those in the wine industry. Now, it’s finally being realised as the way forward for people like myself who want to avoid the deadly sugar granules. Thomson & Scott’s transparency about what’s in our bottles has been a huge hit with our consumers, particularly younger consumers who do care about cutting sugar from their lifestyles without compromising on taste and quality.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
There have been many highlights which makes it hard to pinpoint one in particular. The Selfridges launch was spectacular. We sold out completely after the first three weeks, whilst generating an extensive waiting list and becoming the single most searched for item within their online store. I had never imagined the launch to be such a surprising and instant success, especially since we had not spent a penny on advertising.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
Social media plays a huge role for us. The story behind Thomson & Scott Skinny is quite unconventional and, unlike many of the traditional wines, it has enabled us to talk about our mission to get people cutting sugar and drinking better.
We managed to step out from behind the wine and food pages and into the news pages – something the wine industry can rarely do but the growing number of people connecting with us has undoubtedly been through our social media channels. We constantly engage with interesting people who now connect with us on an international level.
Social media is largely inspirational and beneficial. We really utilise Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to create and increase the buzz around the brand. As a result, I garnered some pretty influential followers.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I had to develop an entirely new set of skills and knowledge in order to start and run a business.
Surround yourself with positive and stimulating people and allow yourself to utilise the negativity of others to generate your own positive energy. Stay focused and build confidence and resilience around that. I wholeheartedly trust that the most pertinent piece of advice is to always believe you can actually do it. Once you have taken off, allow yourself to enjoy and value each part of the journey.
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
We are just about to relaunch our website to make it much more user-friendly for consumers and our ability to deliver across the UK has just got a whole lot better so we’re excited to bring bottles to those far reaches of the country and not just the major towns and cities.
We will continue to lead the discussion about the importance of greater transparency in wine and remind consumers that our products reflect exactly what we promise and promote – drinking quality sparkling wine, whilst avoiding the intake of unnecessary sugar.
Thank you so much to Amanda for taking the time to be involved with Behind the Biz. I’m delighted to have her as part of the series and I’ve really enjoyed hearing about the story behind Thomson & Scott Skinny. I agree with Amanda that it’s very important to surround yourself with positive people who support what you do and of course, you must believe in what you’re doing too.
I can’t wait to see the business continue to grow. Is anyone else craving a glass of Prosecco now?
If you’d like to get involved with Behind The Biz please leave a comment below or drop me a message over on Twitter.