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A year of Covid-19: Boozy Events owners on how innovating saved their business and propelled it to go global

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From launching a virtual cocktail mixology concept to becoming a leader in the sector, here’s how Boozy Events has dominated the pandemic…

Merely a thought around a year ago, Cammy Esson and Gregor Sey say their cocktail business would never have turned into the global success it has been without the chain of events that followed the coronavirus outbreak.

As the pandemic marks its first anniversary this month when the world came to a standstill in March last year, the duo say it has only been recently that they have been able to assess just what has happened to Boozy Events over the past 12 months.

While there have been, and continue to be, many casualties throughout the pandemic, Boozy Events is one of the lucky businesses which has flourished as a result of more people being at home and the rise of virtual events.

Cammy Esson and Gregor Sey.

Innovation was key to survival

Unsure what the fate of their business would be last March, Cammy and Gregor have worked tirelessly to adapt and develop a service that has taken their Aberdeen-based enterprise global, now reaching customers in more than 30 countries.

Cammy said: “We thought it was massive to hit 1,200 kits back when lockdown first happened, but we’re doing around half that a week now which is crazy. It is so cool to see how well it has done and to see the numbers and what we’ve achieved is quite surreal.

“Gregor and I went into business at the beginning of 2020 and wanted to do a publicity stunt of bringing Boozy to your door. A couple of months later and we were getting orders we couldn’t fulfil as the two of us. We couldn’t recruit enough people or train them fast enough as we couldn’t keep up with the demand. That is the true definition of rapid growth.”

The Mary Jane cocktail is one of the drinks customers learn how to make in a masterclass.

Gregor added: “It has definitely been an interesting journey. A lot of the stuff we were doing, we were more forced to adapt, rather than be able to make our own decisions. We went ahead with the virtual stuff and never really knew where it would go. At the start it was more just of interest and something we wanted to try. We never expected the reaction we got, and we adapted it a lot more.

“People were more open to trying virtual experiences and in the early days Cammy and I were working all hours to make it work trying to get the boxes out and running classes online.

“We thought it was going to be temporary and then, as things progressed, the team got bigger, and things became more long term and permanent. We started partnering with other firms and suppliers, and invested in our own equipment.

“When we first started we were doing birthday parties and hen parties. Now we are very much doing a lot of parties but a lot more work with corporate. We have bookings up until the end of the year.”

80,000 cocktails

Sending out 80,000 plus cocktails and 20,000 kits across the globe in the past year, the business now employs 14 people across four countries, with Cammy and Gregor looking to add to the team which will see employees be based in new territories, too.

Cammy Esson and Gregor Sey hosting a masterclass at the Society Awards 2020.

“It is mental to think that we’ve sent out 80,000 cocktails to people across the world,” said Cammy.

“We have 14 people working for us split across production, packaging, mixologists, sales and myself and Gregor. We have employees working in four different countries and we want to employ people in the USA and we’re potentially away to take someone on in China. The most diverse area is the sales team who are based across different locations.

“We’re looking at getting a few different premises in a few different cities for them to be multi-use venues. It could be a space for lots of mixologists to use as and when they need it. That opens us up to come great talent in the industry.

Some of the Boozy Events team at the start of lockdown.

Building on success

Moving into bigger premises in Aberdeen to facilitate mass orders for brands including Deliveroo, Nike, Spotify, Lego, Cadbury, Sky, Google and American Express to name a few, Gregor is looking forward to leading the team in Aberdeen.

Cammy has since moved to Holland where he continues to run the business and employ and train mixologists.

Gregor said: “We’ve just moved into a new premises which are easier for us to operate in. We’re confident with the existing demand and ongoing contracts to invest in the company in this way. A lot of the team were on self-employed contracts initially, now we’re looking for staff and for them to have a career with us. We’ve now got the Living Wage accreditation to ensure contractors are being looked after just as much.

Boozy Events cocktail mixology classes have proven a huge success.

“Myself and Cammy are now less involved in the hands-on side of things. I still can’t believe we are where we are. Everything moves so quick and the team are either family or close friends. Every week there’s a new product or they are dealing with prices changing to accommodate for Brexit. I feel like we can take on anything to be honest.

“We used UPS for a lot of stuff, but we have started working with DPD more recently, too. We speak to them every few days and it is important to understand how they work as the weather, Brexit, everything can effect the supply chain. They are really helping us make sure we get our products out there and through customs as quick as we can.

“The scale we operate now, the couriers see us as a big account, so they are really quick to help out. We have seen a decline in EU sales, however our parcels are still getting through, and it is really just keeping on top of things.”

Global domination

Sending kits to more than 30 countries, 2021 is already looking to be a busy year for Boozy Events as they continue to grow their corporate offering, and focus on branching into retail.

Cammy added: “The furthest we’ve sent is probably, Dubai, Africa and other countries out that way. We’ve sent a lot to Europe, too, and there’s so much scope to grow the business.

A little taste of our year 2020. A big thank you to clients, suppliers and partners for working and booking with us. An even bigger thank you to our team who have been amazing at adapting to the challenges and working extremely hard to make it all possible. ❤️

Posted by Boozy Events on Tuesday, 16 February 2021

“We’ve got a few things we’ll be announcing very soon, but 2021 will be a real focus on the corporate sector, which is a huge part of our business. We’re already working on some stuff more focused towards retail. We’ll look to use the exposure of last year to possibly bring out our own products and we’re looking into a subscription-based service for the die-hard fans.

“My longer-term gameplan was to move to Holland, and the way the business has developed has allowed me to do this. To continue to grow the business from a different country is pretty cool.”

One of Boozy Events’ Christmas cocktails.

“I did an Elevator business course years and years ago and there’s a piece of paper I did an illustration on in the booklet and on that illustration it shows a globe, with cocktails around the globe, and the business model I had in mind back then was that one day I was somehow going to be delivering master classes around the world online, and this is it coming true!”

And Gregor is as equally optimistic about the business’s future. After battling the pandemic and dealing with the issues, Brexit posed on the company and their EU customers, he is looking forward to taking the firm to the “next level”.

He added: “I  have only been involved in Boozy Events for the past year or so. I hope we can continue to bolster the corporate side of things and become a big part of a company’s employee benefits.

“We’re taking some of the mixology experiences to the next level. What we do now is fun and entertaining. We’ve hosted thousands of guests in a class and some of them are really interested in finding out more about cocktails, and our mixologists are so knowledgeable so we’re working on a new platform to give customers who do want to know more, the chance to do so with tutorials.

“We want to try work with more local firms more, but it was challenging as we needed huge quantities. We’re hoping we can try and work with more local producers so we can support them as best as we can.”

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