We chatted with Samuel Williams, one of the co-founders of British premium spiced rum brand Las Olas to hear about the highs and lows of his journey so far.1. When did you decide to get into the rum business and why?
I had the idea for the brand in 2018, my girlfriend had travelled and brought back a wonderful rum from Panama.That was the first time I had the privilege of tasting a rum on its own without a mixer. I realised I had been conditioned to mix substandard spirits to overcompensate for the lack of taste. I started to learn about the history of rum and realised rum had been white-washed, there was no representation around me and that needed to change.
2. How was the development process?
The development process was difficult, I went on serval rum tastings in England and around the world, I studied flavour profiles,I even went to events and stood by bars in clubs, to see what types of products people ordered. I wanted our rum from the ingredients to the bottle to the design to make sense and blend to create the first black-owned premium spiced rum - I wanted to make my community proud.
3. Were there any major challenges or obstacles that you stumbled across?
There have been many challenges along this road. I think with entrepreneurship you’re like a firefighter, you’re constantly putting out fires, small or big. I remember going to trade shows and I’m not sure if this was race related or because I was young and they couldn’t believe I had a brand of my own, but I just felt the respect wasn’t there, and then a person of another race would walk past a stall and get the best reception....things like this could knock your confidence but because I was doing rum I feel like I had a divine right and I couldn’t give up.
4. How has the reception been?
The reception has been amazing for us, I couldn’t be more grateful, even if it’s just a small retweet or post it’s helped so much. I love it when we get feedback too, when customers take their time to send personal messages whether it’s a compliment or constructive criticism on how we can improve - I appreciate it!
5. Are there any new products that you’d like to launch?
There are always ideas, we have thought about a white rum, but what we know is we want to be the number 1 gift-giving brand for millennials, so we are looking to add more packaging options and also add our own brand of tea and coffee that will be launching on Father’s Day.
I’m black British African, my parents are from Nigeria, but I have Co-Founders and advisors from different parts of Africa and the Caribbean. I think that’s important because that’s a true reflection of rum.
7. How do you think that background helped shape who you are today?
I think being in my household made me resilient, also growing up in one of the poorest boroughs in England toughened me up and gave me a good work-rate. When you see one parent work multiple jobs and another give their life to a job that never really gave anything back it puts some fire in your belly.8. What has been the highlight of the journey so far?
My biggest highlight is probably Stormzy including us in his Guardian article, naming us one of his favourite rums, we then met and he embraced me. For someone who’s as big as him to do that was crazy especially in a world where many people are self serving.
9.Where do you draw inspiration from?
I used to draw inspiration from wanting to make history and legacy, but now it’s my newborn daughter, I want to give her the life she deserves and I never had.10. What advice would you give those venturing into the alcohol business?
My advice for any business owner is ‘It’s not over until it’s over’. It may seem simple but sometimes you’re having a bad day, business may not be going well but you can anyways turn it around until you can’t.
11. What’s next for the brand?
We want to rebrand, shoot more content, collaborate with unique and different brands, and showcase what we are doing as a community.
12. What do you want your legacy to be?
I want people to remember me changing the game, being the first black owned premium spiced rum and black people getting the respect they deserve in the spirits game after all, a lot of this was built on our backs.
Check out the Las Olas website:https://www.lasolasrumclub.com
Find them on Instagram:@lasolas.uk