As Bristol-based Ellie Webb wins Soft Drinks Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2022 Food and Drink Heroes’ Awards, we sit down to hear all about her journey.
A young entrepreneur from Bristol has been named Soft Drinks Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2022 Food and Drink Heroes’ Awards.
Ellie Webb, the founder of Calenoa drinks maker founded to provide fun and tasty alcohol-free spirits options, has joined Britain’s top food and drink companies in the national awards final.
Food and Drink Heroes was launched in 2020 by the team behind the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, but was held in person for the first time this year in Wickham.
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The organizers felt that a program focusing on catering and hospitality was necessary given the high volume and quality of applicants for the food and drink category of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, and even added three additional categories to the second year of Food and Drink Heroes in response to huge levels of interest.
So where did Ms. Webb get the idea for Caleño and how did the Bristol-based company come about? “Caleño was born out of personal frustration,” says Ms. Webb.
“I was a few years ago at a non-alcoholic party with friends during Dry January, and I didn’t feel at all inspired by the non-alcoholic drinks on offer.
“Why not drinking would mean not having fun?” I decided it was time to bring some “not drinking” joy – and that’s where Caleño was born.
As for how the business got started, Ms Webb says it first came to life in her kitchen in Bristol, but that was 5,000 miles later on a trip back to Colombia , where her mother is from, that she felt truly inspired to reconnect with her Latin roots.
“After soaking up the vibrant colors and tropical flavors, I decided to go home and bottle it,” she says. “The word ‘Caleño’ means ‘from Cali’, the Colombian town where my mother is from, a place famous for its salsa, food and culture.
“Colorful Colombian cities like Cartagena and Guatape inspired Caleño’s bold and bright bottle designs.”
Fast forward to today and Caleño is now a double range of distilled non-alcoholic tropical spirits, available in most major UK supermarkets.
“We’re on a mission to create more joyful moments and change people’s perception of what it means not to drink,” Ms Webb says. “Just because you don’t drink alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time and enjoy a delicious drink.”
Clearly, Ms Webb is proving something right, as the awards had 700 applicants who were narrowed down to 14 winners by a panel of expert judges from industry-leading companies including Selfridges, McDonalds and Costa Coffee.
Food and Drink Heroes founder Francesca James said all of the finalists were exceptional: “The exceptional level of this year’s finalists proved us right that UK food and drink entrepreneurs deserved their own program. of awards to showcase the breadth of the industry. .
“The competition was fierce, so those shortlisted should be assured that they showed an incredible level of determination, entrepreneurship and drive.”
I wonder what this whirlwind journey of starting a business felt for Ms. Webb. “Crazy! When I think about the fact that I started this brand just three and a half years ago, it takes my breath away,” she says.
“But I loved every second of it and learned so many valuable lessons along the way. I have a mentor who gives me great advice including ‘fail fast, learn fast and move on.’
“I think it’s important that you are not afraid of failure; things will go wrong, they always do, and you learn from them, which makes you stronger and better at what you do.
“Remember, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, there have been sleepless nights, but that’s part of the journey, and I appreciate every second of it.
She tells us how she felt winning the award. “I’m absolutely honored to have won this award – there were some amazing finalists in my category, so it’s a real privilege to have won,” she beams.
“When it comes to the future of Caleño, we are now a team of almost 20 people and we are extremely ambitious with our plans and our goals… So watch this space!”