After travelling around Asia, Sally Wynter became inspired by the myriad of flavours and colours she found in local food and drinks.
This served as inspiration for her own creation: CBD gin.
The 24-year-old has just launched Muhu, the UK’s first cannabis oil-infused gin with notes of sweet hibiscus – and she started the company with just £1,000.
The savvy freelance media professional, who says her favourite drink is gin, had been told that developing the product would cost up to £50,000. The bespoke recipe alone was quoted at £20,000.
So, how did she do it?
Sally started by cutting down on expenses by hiring a designer in Ukraine to do the work at a cheaper cost, as well as educated herself on trademark law through gov.uk.
She also sourced a gin distillery that was on board with helping her at a discounted price.
‘I started off doing trials at home in my bedroom,’ she said.
‘Then, I found a friendly distillery who were happy to do professional trials for me for free after I pitched them my brand idea.
‘I negotiated. A bit of charm and being upfront about being cash-strapped gets you a long way.’
At the beginning of the project, she looked at ‘unique flavours’ to infuse in the gin and that would be different to other products already available on the market, before deciding to add CBD to the mix.
Talking about her travels, Sally said: ‘It was just mental. After I got over the culture shock, I found Asia was an amazing place and I fell in love with the vibrant colours.
‘I got into so many different flavours and spices especially with drinks such a lemongrass and I couldn’t find that when I came home.
‘After a couple of months I realised all the flavours I was craving from Asia I couldn’t find. Even in London, in the terms of drinks, it was really lacking.
‘Gin is my favourite drink so I had the idea to put in unique flavours.
‘I looked at the brands on the market and a lot of them had rhubarb or strawberries, and I thought there was really an opportunity to renovate.’
Sally, who has been using CBD in her drinks to help with muscle recovery, realised that this would be the ideal ingredient for her unique beverage.
She said: ‘I’ve been using CBD in my own drinks for almost two years. It is an interesting natural extract and I found it helpful in a variety of ways.
‘I was using it for my muscles and then I started putting it into my cocktails and it was a real mood booster.
‘This January I had this conversation about infusing CBD and the distillery said we could do the trials, but they needed a few thousand pounds and even then, they couldn’t agree the product would be what I wanted.
‘I thought my idea was dead in the water but amazingly the smaller distillery who would put labels on the machine line said they would do it free of charge.’
CBD oil, which has a THC level of below 0.02% is now legal in the UK, with many companies introducing it into products such as chocolate or in liquid format to help with mental health problems or chronic illnesses.
It is not to be confused with cannabis (CBD will not get you high), which is still illegal in the UK, with the exception of being prescribed for medical purposes.
Creating Muhu has been a learning curve for Sally, who announced her launch of the gin in September, when she hit a snag because some of the label reels were set up incorrectly.
‘I had to teach myself everything from the ground up,’ she said.
‘When I started last year I didn’t realise how much work it was going to be, I had to learn every aspect of the business, whether it was creating a website or marketing.
‘The amount of work was endless and it was easy to burn out.’
Despite the minor hick-ups, she’s had positive feedback from customers and is hoping to bring on investors to expand her business.
Sally said: ‘The response has been great. People have come to me and say they never drink gin neat and now they have it on ice.
‘I see people ordering three of four times and it is such an incredible feeling, from working on it with my laptop in my bedroom to people now drinking it.
‘I was worried that no one was going to like it, but the feedback has been immense.
‘If you want to do something there is no big barrier in front you.
‘Nothing is stopping you as long as you’re determined you can find your way.
‘Even if you have no experience, pick up the phone and tell people your idea. You shouldn’t keep it a secret because a network of people will help make your dreams happen.’
The daily lifestyle email from Metro.co.uk.