Catherine Monagan is the CEO and Founder of Gigglewater Productions Ltd, the new alcoholic beverage and lifestyle brand on the scene, taking Ibiza and now the world by storm, one bubble at a time. From the wines, to the bubblies, events and retreats, Catherine promises quality-driven, interesting, useful, upbeat products that reflects Gigglewater’s mission of making healthy living a little bit easier and a load more fun. Intrigued to jump on the bandwagon (and off the wagon!), we caught up with Catherine to find out her story and what this Gigglewater is all about.
How did it all begin and how did the name Gigglewater come about?
I’ve been in the wine business for many years – from 2002 and worked for big retailers like Sainsburys and Tesco, leading world distributors like Hardys/Constellation Brands and my own business creating private label brands for big UK supermarkets and pub groups and globally – creating bespoke blends, labels and so on. I also launched and ran a company like Dragon’s Den but for wine – Winestars World – where we put winemakers/wineries in direct sales contact through bespoke events in China, Europe, UK.
Gigglewater came about 1 and a half years ago, when I was designing a brand concept for a client about the Prohibition Speakeasy era in the USA in the 1920’s and I came across a photo of 3 girls in black and white bathing suits on a diving board which said “Gigglewater – An Intoxicating Beverage”. I thought what a great name for a global sparkling wine brand – that the word Gigglewater could be synonymous to Sparkling wine as Dyson is for vacuum cleaners and Sellotape is for tape, Perrier is for sparkling water etc. The other thing that came to me was that there is not enough BALANCE in the wine industry or in life when it comes to consuming alcohol etc. With mental health such an important topic and eating right, drinking in moderation, the girls balancing on the diving board made me think about Living Life in Balance. And so our key ethos is about that – Health & Happiness, Live! Love! Sparkle! Life is about celebrating, not escaping…
I wanted to create a brand that brought young people into wine as well – that wasn’t about wine – that was about lifestyle, giving back, having fun, bringing all ages of people together – at the end of the day when you’re 70 you still feel young – life is about what you make of it, it’s EXPERIENTIAL… it’s about innovation, change, it’s about living it to the full and meeting people, travel, experiencing magical things and that’s what we are about.
We are also all about giving back to community – that’s what inspires me personally – think Global, act Local… so we give a % of our profits to an orphanage in Bali where we are expanding on the school and creating a meditation room for the kids – there are a 137 who all lost their mums and dads in a volcanic eruption and also working on a Nepal Water project in future. In Ibiza we support the Ibiza Preservation Fund, Ibiza Quills, and we are about to support Ibiza Love Now – cleaning up plastic off the beaches.
How has your company grown to be where it is now? What has contributed to your business’ success?
It’s a strange one – I have worked for big retailers and distributors and done normal private labels in the past but I think because there is soul in this, because we have thought about the consumer before the product, that there is an essence of feeling in the brand, that people feel without knowing why. It’s also about people just feeling happy – knowing that health and happiness are key to life. Within 3 months of us launching we had the Oscars in the USA asking us to be a main sponsor and the same for all the leading consumer mags in the UK – we just didn’t have enough stock to give away free! What’s been amazing is that the consumer has come to us, has loved our social media because we try to be real, we try not to look contrived or created and a lot of our new customers/global and UK retailers have found us via social media, which was a surprise for me.
That aside, it’s understanding the client or the consumer – understanding their market and the support they need/want. Delivering on time and if anything goes wrong, making sure to always communicate and update the situation. Also to understand different cultures – for example, what consumers in China want from packaging is very different to other places in the world. And you can’t get too precious about it looking as perfect as your main brand look. I know all the big boys want the family look, but from working a lot and meeting a lot of people across China I realised that we can’t be corporate with our branding – we have to be flexible and listen to our distributors and the consumer.
We have won best sparkling wine in the world 3 times in Canada in the past 6 months – beating leading names like Bottega and Dr Loosen so we’re super grateful. We have also won Peoples’ Choice at a lot of festivals so obviously the style works for consumers. We believe in being beautiful inside and outside of pack.
At what point did you recognise the success of your business and the brand / product?
I don’t think I/the business realises that yet. It’s always a moveable feat of trying to better ourselves, new products, innovation that adds value and truly listening to consumers and thinking of new things that they might love. I think it’s less about success but more about creating relevant, engaging products that people love and want to come back and buy more of and then giving back to the world.
Being a recognised brand now, what partnerships with other UK and international brands helped raise your exposure in those early days of the Gigglewater journey ?
Yes the partnerships we have made and partnered with have helped – we choose carefully as we want to be associated with things that are about living a life of creativity – whether that be through wine, art, music, dance, poetry, protecting the environment etc. So everything we sponsor is about nurturing creativity in the human soul and about making the world a better place through supporting funds/charities/events that feel the same. We are here for such a short time on this planet that need to feel a sense of purpose – all of us… We work with the British Film Festival, Benevolent Drinks Charity UK which has a magical campaign on mental health launching; supporting/building the meditation room for the Bali Orphanage mentioned above, the Ibiza foundations mentioned above, charities in the UK that feed the hungry and more to come.
And how has the advent of social media impacted on you?
Social media is something that we can love or hate but it’s there. We all want connection and whilst the best forms of connection are human one to one, social media has given us all a route to connect globally, which has many positive aspects. Our social media platforms have brought buyers and retailers and consumers direct to us, which we are very grateful for and is one of the main reasons we are launching a direct to consumer wine business in the UK. Social media is not about talking about yourself. It’s about being relevant, being meaningful and creating content and engaging with people in a way that adds value to their moment, their day, their business, their thoughts and more. Be real, be authentic.
The team must be pretty large these days. How many people are now part of the Gigglewater machine?
We have tried to keep it tight at the beginning because we wanted to invest in the brand and we want to have the right people on board. Our goal is to have the best people on board in Ibiza (brand home) and London and then to have the best distributor partners around the world, which we now have in China, Spain, Ibiza, Canada, UK, Sweden, soon USA, Denmark, Australia, South Africa.
How do you stay relevant and current and continuously meet your consumer needs?
We are always reading, researching, watching consumer behaviour across different age groups. We don’t believe in buying databases or research reports created by people who have a subjective or motive for the answer to their report. We do our own research globally by country and we work with leading people within the regions/countries to help us on current trends. We also use gut instinct to understand what people want, we look at what works outside of wine (from colour to textures etc) and we watch what is going on in leading travel destinations from food to wine, to needs and more…
Which project/s are you really excited about for 2018?
2018 – Traveling around the world, learning a lot more about new places to sell our products, what people want by location, what the new trends are globally by speaking to real people not people in focus groups. By looking at what is going on in younger age groups as well as older age groups who are doing a lot more traveling and living life in the now… how we can tap into that etc. Looking at non-alcoholic wines which we keep getting asked for, new ranges of global sparkling wines, a JV partnership with a dear friend and artist Victor Spinnelli called SPiN Ibiza craft beer; a huge expansion of our Direct to Consumer Online Gigglewater Members Club in the UK and Ibiza, our second “Live Life in Balance” Giggling Buddha Retreats in Ibiza in Sept 2018 and more. We are also working on some exciting new product development projects to be launched second half of this year, including our own canning plant in the UK and some amazing new products.
What makes you so different to other brands within your industry? Explain to our readers what sets Gigglewater so far apart in the market?
I think it’s about putting the consumer first. We have a product that is relevant in peoples’ lives – our cans are perfect for festivals, at home, mixers to make cocktails, on the train home, concerts, beach and more. Our Gigglewater Prosecco DOC in bottle has won best sparkling wine in the world 3 times in a tough market like Canada and also Consumers’ Choice awards and more. We pride ourselves on making sure what we choose to be in the bottle is as good as outside the bottle. We also believe in making new products that are innovative and relevant and you will see more from us in that sector. Most importantly we want to be creating fun products that people love and want and need and that they know are giving back to the earth and making a difference.
How has the link between the UK and Ibiza helped your business? Do you feel the two countries high creativity levels have contributed to your success?
Ibiza and London are very different but what does connect them is an essence of no judgement and freedom. It’s hard to see this across all of London as it’s so diverse but you see now places like Shoreditch/Hoxton etc that are allowing people to just BE. This is Ibiza’s essence.. a place of BALANCE and FREEDOM.. if you choose it – a place where there are no boundaries – where the boundaries are your own… where you can be totally you, be free, love, feel, express, create and more. The true essence of life is to love, to create, to give and we love Ibiza as our home…
For more information, visit www.gigglewaterwines.com