Hudnott’s started taking shape when we moved to Westward Ho!, Devon in 2009. After adopting a border collie pup (Uther Pendragon) I found myself exploring the surrounding countryside, taking especially long walks around Northam Burrows and along the coastal paths.
I have always had a keen interest in herbalism and nature and was amazed by all the bounty the hedgerows had to offer. I decided to attempt some home brewing so looked up some wine recipes and started foraging. This particular year was a great year for sloes and blackberries so after making wine and sloe gin it was a natural progression to experiment with blackberries in a similar way. In retrospect, this was the year Hudnott’s Blackberry Gin was born!
Each year the glut of hedgerow fruit continued and demijohns were being filled with all sorts of homemade wine and spirit combinations. Uther and I spent hours every evening picking bramble tops, nettles, gorse flowers, honeysuckle flowers, blackberries, elderflowers, elderberries and sloes. My best friend got married and I found some beautiful Bristol glass bottles which I filled up with my fruity potions. They were so well received and I enjoyed making them so much, I began thinking about making my hobby into a business.
At this time we moved into a caravan which was situated right next to the coastal path. I started experimenting with other fruits and alcohol bases, soon enough our cupboards were brimming with jars and containers of all shapes and sizes. We had a spare room full of demijohns (and ferrets!) full of wine bubbling away. I even made some batches of elderflower champagne which although was delicious was extremely explosive!!
I had bought some strengthened glass bottles to contain this delicious fizziness but even this wasn’t strong enough. Once I came home from work to find one of the bottles had exploded all over the kitchen, the top of the bottle had actually broken off with the force!! After that we decided it was best to keep the elderflower champagne outside, underneath the caravan in a sealed bucket. Now the only danger was losing the delicious liquid when opening the bottles. We found the best solution to this was a two person job. One take charge of the bottle, carefully release the cage and ease the cork out. The second, more brave person (usually Frank my now husband) had to stand about a meter away and brace themselves. They have to defend themselves from the cork projectile, then spring into action and catch as much of the champagne as possible in the bucket! Sounds like an ordeal…trust me it was worth it!!
The next part of Hudnott’s happened when we decided to buy a horsebox to convert into a motor home. The 7.5 tonne beast we ended up buying was located near Bristol. When chatting to the couple who were selling it I happened to mention about my concoctions. By chance the seller was a managing director of a design company.
Excited by potentially starting my own business I got in touch with the design company to find out the cost of designs for some labels. I explained my situation and was offered a full brand design for free in return for the company having free reign and entering the branding in some design awards. Unfortunately my naivety ignored the warning bells and I went with this fantastic ‘too good to be true’offer.
The initial concept was for Hudnott’s to follow the theme of the seven deadly sins, each alcohol base represented by a sin. This was a very clever concept but after getting grants and loans to afford the printing of the labels, the company requested £15,000 for the 3 sins they had completed and a further £15,000 for the final 4 sins!!! A very big lesson learned, I decided to go my own way.
At the end of 2015 Hudnott’s closed down. I was no longer able to use the old branding and had lost lots of money in labels I couldn’t use. Luckily an old friend (Benjamin Green) came to my rescue. We had already started talking about the new branding, my love of the concept of apothecary and the Victorian style. Ben managed to not only keep the bottles I was currently using to prevent more money loss but was economical with the labels so that I could mix and match the neck and main labels. We worked through the minefield that is trading standards specifications and had the first set of new labels printed in June 2016.