COVETELLA'S COVETED ICON - APRIL EDITION
Meet Jamie Koh, founder of Singapore based Gin brand
The art of distilling is one that takes years to master. Singapore's very own Jamie Koh saw to it that she mastered the art of mastering the art of distilling ! In a recent interview with thrill seeker Jamie, she talks about how she started Brass Lion, the challenges she faced along the way and what she has learned along the way. Creativity and innovation is key to this industry and as we speak Brass lion is in process of creating a new fun variation to their Gin range.
Covetella : Tells us a little about yourself ?
I have always loved food and drinks - how different flavors work together to form a cohesive end product, and i knew all along that I wanted to start my own business and pursue my passion in the F&B industry. In 2009, I decided to take the plunge, and moved back to Singapore to do so. I knew that I could liven up the industry because all the concepts that I wanted to create would be completely new to Singapore’s F&B landscape.
At that same time, there was a competition that had just launched in Clarke Quay called the Ultimate Startup Space, where the best concept would win a space rent-free for 6 months and $20,000 seed money. One of the concepts I was considering was a shooters bar, which I knew would be perfect for the space. Chupitos was eventually crowned as the winner and that set me on my path as a serial entrepreneur.
Outfit : Covetella couture collection, designed by On Aura Tout Vu
Subsequently, I opened The Beast, a restaurant focusing on Southern American comfort food and bourbons, which was inspired by my time spent attending university in Atlanta, Georgia. I had always felt that it was a pity that Singapore did not have local spirits to call its own, and in 2012, I enrolled myself in distilling school in Washington State.
Over the next couple of years, I fully immersed myself in mastering the art and science of distillation, with the aim of starting a distillery in Singapore, highlighting botanicals native to this region of the world. Last year, Brass Lion Distillery opened its doors to the public, and also launched its flagship product, the Brass Lion Singapore Dry Gin.
Covetella : What 3 things does anyone starting in your industry need to know? Why do you think this is important for them to know?
- It’s a competitive industry so you need to have a clear concept that would appeal to your target audience in order to set you apart from the rest.
- Passion will not pay your bills! Write a solid business plan and run your numbers to ensure that it makes financial sense.
- Be prepared to juggle multiple hats and to work long hours, especially in the beginning
Covetella : In your opinion, who or what has influenced you the most? How and why do you think so?
“Stop going for the easy buck and start producing something with your life. Create, instead of living off the buying and selling of others.” This was a quote that had always resonated with me and was what motivated me to start my entrepreneurial journey.
Covetella: What has been your biggest challenge starting Brass Lion .
With Brass Lion Distillery, nothing like this had ever been done before in Singapore. I knew that I had to master the art and science of distilling before I would be able to open the distillery. I had to write to distillers all over the world, convincing them to take me on as an unpaid intern, in order for me to gain the necessary know-how. Less than 1 percent of the distillers responded, and when they did, it was to turn me down. Eventually, through personal contacts, I managed to secure internships with various distilleries in the US and Europe, allowing me to gain much needed experience.
It was also challenging getting the relevant licenses to open Brass Lion Distillery, because there was no precedent and the various government agencies were not familiar with the concept. We had to work very closely with them over the course of two-and-a-half years in order to obtain the necessary approvals.
Covetella : How do you balance your work with your personal life?
By building a team of trusted people and giving them autonomy. Fortunately, I enjoy my work as well so it does not feel like I am working!
Covetella : How would you describe your style ?
I’m not afraid to be experimental, to try on different designs, colors, prints and patterns. There are no rules - I’m open to wearing any outfit, as long as it makes me look good!
Covetella: Whats next for you ?
To build the Brass Lion brand and take it global!
A young entrepreneur and CEO of 3 successful companies doesn't come without the hard work that needs to be put in. Running your own business really requires you to get down and dirty through all the nitty gritty aspects , So we'd say regardless of the industry, go in eyes wide open be prepared to not attend every wedding, birthday bash or family gathering initially. Hustle hard and don't be afraid to ask for help.
We hope you enjoyed this month's read. Stay tuned to hear from more strong females in our coveted icon series ! For more updates and behind the scenes follow us on IG : @covetella