Using a coworking space as a cost conscious small business
HomeWork’s interview with The Little Fine Wine Company
Vicki has been a Fixed Desk member at HomeWork Workspace since January 2023, starting at the Southfields site and moving over to Wandsworth when it opened in February. I sat down to catch up with her about The Little Fine Wine Company and her time at HomeWork.
Tell me about yourself and your business
I’m Vicki, Director of The Little Fine Wine Company. We specialise in fine wines in smaller bottles (375 ml, known as half bottles). The 375mls contain 2 or 3 glasses and are great for trying new wines without spending a fortune, or if your partner doesn’t drink wine/likes a different style. They are also great for matching wines across different courses for a great meal!
We choose wines that have plenty of flavour, are delicious, and in our opinion are a step up on the average wine on the market. We source wines from authentic, genuine producers and particular wine regions as opposed to mass-produced wines that are blended across large areas of vineyards.
The wines are all available on our website and we deliver directly to your door. And although we specialize in half bottles we also have full bottles (75cl) and magnums (150cl) too, if you are feeling thirsty! We also have a subscription model which allows you to receive regular deliveries of half bottles to expand your knowledge of wine.
Can you describe your role?
As Director and Founder of a small company, I do a little bit of everything! I mainly look after the wine buying, marketing and sales sides of the business, plus the planning for the subscription club. My colleagues look after the accounts, customer service and logistics. My role includes a tasting every month with one of our winemakers which is popular and a great way to catch up with some of our subscribers, as well as hearing directly from the vineyard.
How long have you been in business?
I’ve been in the wine industry for almost 20 years. Before starting The Little Fine Wine Company I was a professional wine buyer, finding and importing wines to sell to sommeliers, wine shops and private clients. I’ve also done a lot of wine qualifications (yes, they do exist and I’d recommend them!), becoming a Master of Wine in 2015!
In January 2018 I founded The Little Fine Wine Company to help customers expand their knowledge of wine and provide the choice of smaller-sized bottles for those who, for whatever reason, prefer not to open a full bottle. With over 50,000 wines in the UK it’s difficult to know which to select, so we aim to provide a route to reliably delicious wines and also excellent customer service.
Who is your target customer?
Anyone who loves great wine! Mainly, if you don’t want to open a full bottle of wine whenever you’d like to have a glass with dinner or one with a friend. Perhaps you’d like to drink a little less during the week, you’re the only wine drinker in the house or you and your partner have totally different tastes. In this instance, it’s much better to open up a half bottle, than to leave a full bottle unfinished in the fridge and having to add the rest to your pasta sauce!
Our subscription model is perfect for anyone wanting to expand their palate and try new wines, and for learning to food match. Subscriptions come on a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly basis. Monthly provides handpicked, mixed cases of 4 half bottles whilst bi-monthly and quarterly offers 6 half bottles. We provide detailed electronic tasting notes, producer and region notes too, and food pairings. Subscriptions are super flexible, giving you the ability to skip or cancel if you need to.
Online tastings are available to join, we will deliver 4 half bottles of wine to your door, and myself and the winemaker will guide you through the tasting of each. Our next tasting is online next Wednesday with a winemaker from South Africa joining, which should be fun!
Both our subscription and tasting event are great gifts for friends and family, as well as our online shop for individual bottles or mixed cases. Whether they’re looking to learn more about wine or just to stock up for future dinner parties!
Have you changed the way you work in the past few years? How has it affected your business?
We were only 2 years old going into the pandemic, and the website had only been live for one year, but it brought a significant demand for wine purchased online. It was at this point that I started to offer virtual tasting as part of the subscription which was a big hit. During the time, as with many virtual activities it was a great way of feeling social, but also for getting into wine. I really valued the amazing opportunity to connect with wine lovers virtually, and to get to know our customers.
Currently, less people are wanting to connect over Zoom, but I’m pleased I got to connect with so many people at the time. Tastings now tend to be corporate or bespoke bookings plus our subscriber ones. I’m also working on hosting in person tasting sessions in my local community, so keep your eyes peeled!
Why do you choose to work from HomeWork?
At the moment, coworking works perfectly for us as a small company. We have two fixed desks, one for me and another for a colleague, as we use the space most days. We love feeling part of a wider community and being surrounded by other small businesses on a similar journey.
Your favourite thing about HomeWork?
The people! The team at HomeWork, and the members are all so helpful and friendly. Jules and Oz always greet us enthusiastically with a ‘good morning!’, make us a coffee and are free for a chat when we’re looking for a break from the desk. I also love the office dogs!
Were there any deal breakers in your decision to join HomeWork?
Definitely the convenience, I live near Wandsworth and have a short walking commute which is great. Flexibility was also a big factor for us, as a small business we need to be cost conscious and HomeWork is so flexible in packages and offers, even for Fixed Desks. Finally, being allowed to drink wine at our desks (on a Friday evening of course haha!) Sometimes we’ll need to taste a new wine so being able to store these next to our desk is ideal, the HomeWork team sometimes get a glass or two out of it too!
How has HomeWork impacted your business?
HomeWork is very professionally run which has allowed us to concentrate on the working day without worrying about all those annoying niggles of maintaining your own office such as wifi, printing, security and business rates. It means we have more time to focus on growing the business. And it’s very easy to concentrate on work rather than worrying about what’s at home, which was the other alternative.
Advice to anyone thinking of using a coworking space?
I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from different professions. I’ve learnt a lot from having chats with other members in the cafe or the shared kitchen and breakout areas, and understanding the synergies between our businesses. I’ve gained contacts in various fields and know I’m surrounded by people who can help me in a range of different expertise should I need it.
So I guess my main piece of advice if you’re using a coworking space would be to make the effort to chat to others using the space. People are full of ideas for you to bounce off and are always willing to help! The reality is a lot of us are experiencing the same struggles and we can definitely help one another!
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