My lightbulb moment: Drink innovator Melanie Goldsmith reveals the inspiration behind her business

Melanie Goldsmith, 29, co-founded Smith & Sinclair — a cocktail confectionery business — with Emile Bernard, 30, in 2014. She lives in London with her fiancé Tom. 

Growing up, I dreamed of starting a jazz club. My parents were music lovers and I enjoyed watching people let loose. I wanted to have a space to make that happen.

When I was 18, my dad died. It is hard losing a parent when you’re young. You feel a need to prove yourself because they’re not there to reassure you.

I studied music at Cardiff University, where I met Emile, a chef at a local pub. He helped me run student jazz events. We moved to London in 2013 and I got a job at an arts PR firm. Emile and I started running events on the side.

One was a board games dating night. Playing is a fun ice-breaker: you forget your inhibitions because you’re in a childlike state of excitement. However there was always a bottleneck at the bar when people arrived. 

They still wanted that other social lubricant, alcohol. But liquid near a board game is dangerous. That was my lightbulb moment. I wanted people to feel like a kid from the moment they walked in. So I asked Emile to develop edible cocktail gummies.

They were an instant hit. People started asking to buy the pick ’n’ mix — berry daiquiri, G&T and whisky sours — which were half a shot of alcohol per sweet, for their parties. Then we met the owner of London’s Berwick Street Market and she suggested we get a stall for the run-up to Christmas.

I quit my job in November 2013. We drove into Central London before 6am every day. I’d sell the sweets while Emile went home to cook. Soon we were selling out in two or three hours. We made £3,000 in two months.

In 2014, three days after we launched a website, we had an order for 20,000 sweets for a trade show. It took two months to make them, enlisting friends to help and setting up a production line at my mum’s house for packing.

Today, we are stocked online and at John Lewis, Harvey Nichols, Lakeland, Scribbler, Amazon and Not On The High Street. We have expanded to cocktail fizz tablets, sherbet dippers and spray garnishes — three more fun ways to consume alcohol. And our core mission remains exactly that: to make being an adult more fun. 


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