W24 caught up with 22-year-old entrepreneur, Naledi Goottsch who decided to go against all odds and start up her own gin distillery.

Not only does she produce and sell the gin, she also decided to add her own little twist to the South African gin industry by being the first distiller to perfect handcrafted pineapple infused gin.

Naledi speaks to us about the challenges she faces a young businesswoman, how she managed to fund her business and what keeps her motivated to keep going even when the going gets rough. 

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Ledi Craft Gin
Naledi Goottsch

Where did the idea to own your own distillery first come from?

"The idea came to my partner James and I after he had resigned from the gin distillery he was working for in the marketing department.

Previously I had attended a lot of gin events with him and learned a lot about gin production, marketing and all the nitty gritty gin business.

I fell in love with the process and thought it was something that I wouldn't mind getting involved in. And that's when we gave it a go. Shortly thereafter Ledi Craft Gin was born.

Where did the funding for your business come from?

James and I combined whatever money we had in our bank accounts to start up my business. I had to take up small jobs like being a part time chef and working at fundraisers along the way to close the financial gaps we had been experiencing during the start of the business.

Because James was also in the gin industry before, he was able to secure cheaper prices for the packaging (bottles) and a friend of mine offered to do the labeling free of charge. This alleviated a lot of the start up costs for us.

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What challenges were you faced with when you first started and how did you overcome them?

Financing everything was definitely one of the biggest challenges for us, like I previously mentioned, I was willing to take any job to make money that I could inject into my dream. Getting my product out there was also a big challenge.

Getting people interested in what you have to offer is always a challenging task especially with all the competition, however, I believe in my product and work hard to push it and get as many people talking about it as possible.

Are you still into architecture or are you completely focused on Ledi Craft Gin?

I studied for two years and then I fell pregnant with my daughter. Thereafter my studies were put on hold, and soon after I had my other baby which is Ledi Craft Gin, so at the moment there isn't much time to finish off my studies but I definitely am planning on going back to school.

What sets your gin apart from the rest?

Firstly I think the fact that it's owned by a young black local woman is the best part of my gin. Secondly, my gin is the first and only kind that is handcrafted pineapple infused here in South Africa. Also a lot of the botanicals used in the manufacturing process come from SA's very own, Table Mountain.

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What's the hardest part about working so closely with your husband?

To be honest it feels as if I'm working with my best friend. We get to explore the different aspects of something we're both so passionate about and that is the force that drives our healthy working relationship.

Naturally we have our head bumping moments just like you would with your best friend but we always manage to come to an agreement in the end.

How often do you have guests over and how do you entertain them?

I love having people over, in fact not a weekend goes by without a friend or family member stopping by. Usually we have lovely chats over some dinner and drinks. It's always a good time.

What's your favourite gin drink?

I enjoy experimenting with my brand of gin and so while trying different recipes, I happened to create my own cocktail using some of my berry flavoured gin, some fresh berries, lots of crushed ice topped with berry flavoured fruit juice.

All I can say is YUM!.

Are you strictly a gin gal or do you love to explore other kinds of alcohol?

To be completely honest, I'm not big on drinking the alcohol, I used to enjoy a glass or two of wine but I prefer creating the drinks for others to enjoy way more.

Where do you see Ledi Craft Gin in the next five years?

I would love to branch out and see my gin in different places not only in SA but around the world.

What advice can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be determined and relentless in the pursuit of achieving your dreams or goals. Believe that it will work out for you. A few years ago I was studying to be an architect and now I own a distillery, anything is possible.

The other thing is to surround yourself with positive and supportive people that push you towards your dream."

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Naledi say's that she feels like she is conquering every aspect of life by chasing her dreams. Not even her young age was able to hold her back, and what keeps her motivated is her love for inspiring other young black women to chase their dreams, no matter how big.

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