What we drank
We both had a melonade cocktail, which may be on the next menu. Hebe drank hers very quickly.
Kirsten is one of those ladies who is wonderfully organised. You feel an instant sense of calm when you hear her talk about her work because you just know she’s going to nail it.
During this interview, I decided to video the neighbour’s cat (who frequently visits Wolfies) and consequently ruined the recording (honestly who lets me drink and work?). Luckily Kirsten had prepared and through her notes, we were able to salvage the interview.
Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Kirsten. I’m the UK Brand ambassador for Maison SASSY, which is a french cider company. My family are originally from the Philippines, but I grew up here. We had a catering business, so I’ve always been surrounded by lots of food and lots of Rum. So you can say I’ve been surrounded by aspects of hospitality my entire life.
How long have you been working in hospitality?
I’d say 7 years now. My background is more beer. I started working as soon as I could because, well why not? I worked in Sydney for a while at a brewery and then I came back to the UK. I really wanted to learn about the cocktail aspect of things, so I went into brand management. Then I became a brand ambassador.
So what would you say got you into hospitality, why did you stay?
I guess like most people, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wasn’t really one for school and studying. I started working in BrewDog and shortly moved to working in a brewery. I realised how much I enjoyed this dynamic industry. I was just learning on the job and loving every second of it! Traveling around and working in different countries, namely Sydney got me to stay in this wonderful industry.
What’s your typical working week like?
Most of my days start at 8 am because I like to go to the gym in the morning before work. I try to do that most days and then I’ll be in the office from 9 am to deal with all the practical elements of looking after a brand. Then from around 1 pm, most days I’ll go into town; checking into accounts, building our pop-ups (we’ve got lots of terraces), hosting masterclasses/training, tastings. During the week it’s predominantly practical aspects of the brand in the morning and then in the evening, it’ll be events etc.
No two days are the same, but I do try to keep a routine.
What’s your favourite part of working in the drinks industry?
I guess the community aspect of it, meeting and working with some fantastic people. You never know who you’re going to meet on a daily basis. Most of the people I’ve met in this industry are people I have become friends with!
And what’s your least favourite part?
The other side of this tight community is that you can find a lot of arrogance and judgement in this industry too. People are forgetting that the guest and good service must always come first. People want to be treated well and without judgement. We aren’t saving lives here, but we are here to help make people’s day a little bit easier.
Do you think being a woman has affected your career? Has it been positive/negative?
Honestly no, I am lucky to be surrounded by men in this industry who are incredibly supportive. My team is in fact mostly male and they are nothing but supportive and helpful.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve had in this line of work?
Trying to find the right balance with work and trying to give time to myself. I know that I push myself to an absolute limit at the best of times, but I know better now. I try to ensure I keep a better-balanced lifestyle, especially in a role where so much of our networking and events are obviously in the evening.
What trends have you been seeing lately? What should we look out for?
There is honestly a huge rise in low and no, which is fantastic as there are some fantastic no and low products out there. Here at SASSY we are always encouraging people to drink less but better. People are favouring quality over quantity these days.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone wanting to do your job?
Be positive about brands you encounter. People remember and you never know when your paths will cross in the future.
We’re here to support, so is there anything we can do to support you?
Oui Oui! Things things which are important to me; Maison SASSY & The Benevolent Charity, which I am also an ambassador for. It is a trade charity, which provides support and help to anyone who has worked or works in the UK drinks industry.
Maison SASSY, we are a 100% natural sparkling Cidre from Normandy. Everything is made at the Chateau de SASSY, and locally sourced. We do not add any colourants, sugars, water or additives to our range. We have two low-alcohol products; the Cidre Poire (2.5%) and the Cidre Rose (3%). And we have a classic Cidre Brut at 5.2%. They are low calorie, gluten free, vegan and veggie-friendly and damn tasty. A lot of people are surprised by the light, refreshing taste when they try it, even when they say they’re not a big cider fan.
We’re really proud to be the modern face of traditional cider and are really trying to disrupt the way the category is doing things.
And last but not least, what’s your favourite drink?
SASSY Cidre Brut all day every day.
If you know a lady in the drinks industry that you would like to see interviewed, pop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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