For Kecia McDougall, a one-way ticket from Ohio to London marked the start of a journey that would lead her to become a nurse, mother, and entrepreneur.
“I always wanted to go to university and train to be something, but education in America was so expensive,” says Kecia. She left the States for the UK aged 24 to be with her boyfriend Duncan and trained as a nurse. After 20 years in the NHS, with her children grown up, she started a new chapter of her career. “The opportunity to start my own business was never really possible until now,” says Kecia, 53, who launched Tayport Distillery earlier this year.
Just six months after she started trading in March 2018, she won the Best British Brand category in the Speciality Food New Producer Awards. “Sales exceeded our expectations, with a very high demand for a new alternative Scottish spirit,” she says. Her spirit, Never.25, is made from local fruit and she has recently launched a liqueur called 1992, named for the year she married her husband Duncan.
“We’re incredibly proud of the award, and we plan to continue entering competitions to gain recognition surrounding the great taste and flavour you can create using home-grown produce,” she says. According to the website of Bread & Jam, which co-sponsors the awards with Speciality Food Magazine, 16,000 food and drink brands emerge into the UK market every year, yet 90% of them don't make it past their first year of trading. For Kecia, winning the award gave her a big leg up and the chance to get her drinks in front of some of Britain's most renowned buyers, distributors, journalists, and industry experts.