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While the big winner is how these “gifts for the gut” stimulate digestion, the online retailer’s three supplements can also be served as a non-alcoholic alternative to wine when mixed with soda or add flavour and goodness to sauces, soups, pickles and smoothies.
Production is in small batches of a few hundred bottles and begins with the base, known as The Mother. This is the apple cider vinegar’s live bacteria culture where the most beneficial enzymes and proteins naturally ferment over three months.
After importing this from Italy, the Alchemist then takes over, infusing raw ingredients into the juice, a method that preserves the benefits compared to commercial blending processes.
The brand’s unsweetened and vegan N°1 Tonic features ginger and horseradish, while sweetness in its N°2 comes from adding locally sourced honey and its N°3 introduces earthy warmth spice with turmeric and black peppercorns.
Founded by nutrition therapist Dani Clarke and her husband Martin almost three years ago in their home city and drawing on its healthy reputation for its name, The Bath Alchemist built up sales through its online presence during the lockdowns. Now it is hitting its stride having graduated from a debut kitchen table operation to its own production unit.
“We saw an opportunity to develop a hand-made, high quality product that is very different from the vast majority – few if any contain our range of ingredients,” explains Dani.
Apple cider vinegar has long been lauded as a traditional remedy – it’s hugely popular in Canada – and the Alchemist’s customers, who can also buy through Amazon, have been mainly women aged 25 to 50 so far.
However more men are incorporating the tonics into their daily routine, which is normally one tablespoon diluted with water.
“Our customer base is also shifting from local to national,” says Dani who was driven by “wanting to make something for a wider audience”.She turned to apple cider vinegar after deciding the opportunities in the fast maturing kombucha fermented tea market were too limited.
With Martin, a financial services expert, the two have funded the £50,000 it has taken to start up and experimented with recipes for a year. Now growth – what kind and where – is the challenge.
“The variety of possible uses for our product is a key attraction, but where do our tonics sit? Next to vinegars, in the drinks aisle or the wellness products section as a dietary supplement?” explains Dani.
“Like all businesses, we are now facing cost increases, especially packaging and labels.
“The goal going forward is to forge partnerships with the right retail and wholesale partners – our route to market is our biggest challenge. Our product is unique but in a crowded space we need to create genuine points of differentiation through brand awareness.”
In its first year the Alchemist, which employs two, turned over £5,000 and in 2023 is forecasting £50,000 in revenues as it develops its product range.
Now a contender in the UK’s prestigious Great Taste Awards, a pop-up shop in London is a next move for the business along with outlets returning this year such as special markets and festivals.
“Our potential lies in a market poorly served by high end, quality products and increasing our accessibility,” says Dani. “Size ultimately is less important than authenticity, our ethos is all.”
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