2018 got off to a flying start for James Le Gallez as the winner of the first Bailiwick Business Academy, so we met up with him at his pop-up cocktail bar for a look ahead to find out what 2019 holds for the owner of Haut Maison and Aperitif.
"The actual event itself was really good," said Mr Le Gallez, who added that he only entered the Academy "on a hope and a prayer."
He went on to win, which gave his business a boost and has already helped him achieve some of his goals and ambitions.
He won priceless support and advice from local business owners which has helped him develop his products.
"There's nothing formal that's come off the back of it," he said, "but that's more my decision. I'm not in a position, or desire, for investment - I don't know if I ever will be. The way I look at is, I started this to do my own thing. I wanted to create products when I want to and how I want to, and taking on an investor means you have to take on other peoples' opinions which I'm not very good at!"
Pictured: Mr Le Gallez's Noue bar is open until the end of this week. Image from the Noue Facebook page.
Standing on his own two feet is working out well for Mr Le Gallez who is ready to market new products under his Haut Maison brand.
"I've got such a desire and passion for creating flavours. That's how it all started, when I started Aperitif, the very first things I started doing was creating my own cocktails and my own recipes. I was inspired by locations around Guernsey's or Guernsey's traditions, and that's what actually grew the brand when it first started. Then when I got my mitts on Haut Maison that's what spurred me on to do it (entering the Academy), but going back to the investors, is I know that any investor coming on board is going to say 'make a gin'. I could make a gin tomorrow if I wanted to, but I don't.
"Yes, I could make a gin tomorrow and double my money but I'm not interested in it. Yes I want to make money, everyone does, but I want to make flavours that I'm interested in, that has a challenge."
Pictured: Mr Le Gallez's latest flavour. Image from the Haut Maison Facebook page.
Mr Le Gallez still uses only local produce where possible, and his latest product to hit the shelves is a limoncello with lemon's grown near Capelles.
"This lady contacted me who's got a greenhouse down by Aladdin's Cave and she said pop down and have a look, and I came to see this massive greenhouse where she's growing lemon, limes, oranges, kumquats, all this exotic fruit and she suggested I try a limoncello. So I took a little sample and it came off the back of that. I loved the flavour of it so much and the process of making it that yes, it's definitely on track I think to be a best seller.
"It's using real local produce. Yes I can get a lemon extract online for a fiver but then it's just boring."
Mr Le Gallez has good contacts with other local entrepreneurs with his network growing during 2018 too. He uses coffee from Bean 14, chocolate from Ben Le Prevost and he sources natural products wherever possible locally, including elderflower which has been become a very popular flavour.
Pictured: Mr Le Gallez's popular Elderflower Liqueur. Image from the Haut Maison Facebook page.
More products are planned for 2019, but Mr Le Gallez is keeping the flavours close to his chest.
"Cacao is up next. That's one I did as a special edition last year and it was really popular. That's made in partnership with Ben Le Prevost who found me a really nice cacao nibs - expensive but they're very nice. Elderflower will be next. It comes into bloom for about two weeks a year so I have to harvest as much as possible.
"The next flavour after that is a secret!"
For now, Mr Le Gallez is busy with his pop up bar which is open on Mill Street until the end of this week. Despite proving hugely popular over this Christmas and last, he said he is unlikely to do it again as he is too busy with his other business interests, including private bookings with Aperitif and the important development of new flavours for Haut Maison.
"We've got a few weddings again next year, because Aperitif is the only company which specialises in outdoor bars so we get a lot of wedding business. They're a lot of work but the reward is good, they're fun to work at and it's nice to see someone's big day come together.
"I've got a part time member of staff who works for Haut Maison now. So I kick start all of the batches because I know the process and the recipes, then she manages the batches through to completion over the three to four month period before I do the final process and the blending and tasting, then she does all the bottling and deliveries. So on the production side my work is minimised down to just a couple of hours a week, which is nice, so I can concentrate more on recipe development.
"I could go on for hours, I've got 50 different ideas! But you run out of shelf space in retailers, so I've just discontinued two lines because before you know it I'm going to end up with too many flavours and not every shop will be able to take them!"
Pictured: The four finalists in the Bailiwick Business Academy for 2019.
Four businesses are hoping to follow in Mr Le Gallez's footsteps in winning the Bailiwick Business Academy.
To learn more about the Bailiwick Business Academy 2018, which is supported by Carey Olsen, NatWest International, Sancus, Savils, Start-up Guernsey, Envestors and Jersey Business, read the latest edition of Connect magazine here.
Pictured top: James Le Gallez.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.
There are no comments for this article.