Amanda Thomson is the founder and CEO of Thomson & Scott Ltd. Having always had an interest in healthy living, her Organic Vegan Prosecco and Noughty, Alcohol-Free Chardonnay are revolutionising the wine industry. Certified organic and a Certified B Corporation, her products are made with the greatest of care for the environment and sustainability whilst never compromising on the quality and taste of her products.
Amanda says, “My obsession with the perfect 100% Chardonnay champagne is the reason Noughty is so damn good. We created it to come as close to that special feeling as possible that you have with the alcoholic corks popping. We want people who aren’t drinking to stay at the heart of every party instead of feeling excluded. We also want a drink that tasted like it was made for adults and not just a one glass only sugar bomb.”
Tell us about your work?
“I am the CEO and founder of Thomson & Scott the original creators of Skinny Champagne and Prosecco and now the leaders of the alcohol-free wine world with our gorgeous new bottle Noughty – organic, vegan, alcohol-free sparkling Chardonnay.”
What’s your context outside of work?
“I have two fabulous children – 18 and 12 and a husband (does he count as a pet too?) I live in Hampshire.”
What was your ‘normal ‘day to day life like pre COVID?
“Insanely busy. Running a start-up is a 24/7 experience. You’re never off duty and every day is either a huge high or a massive low. It never just rumbles along. So juggling that, travel to international markets, school runs and everything else that a 2020 woman copes with, was a daily challenge.”
What is your day-to day life like now after Lockdown? How have things changed?
“Both my children have now fled: one to university and the other to weekly boarding. Lockdown forced me to drastically rethink the business as most of our customers were hotels, bars and restaurants before the curtain came down with Covid (or ‘Rona’ as my kids call it). So, I had to pivot pretty quickly to focus solely on the online world and direct-to-consumer sales, which was a monumental mountain to climb.”
How has the Corona crisis impacted you personally and professionally?
“Professionally, it’s been a rollercoaster. We initially feared the worst but then an incredible review by a top wine expert starting the phone ringing off the hook from across the globe. In a way, after the initial idea that people could sit in their gardens and drink all day wore off, the idea of an alcohol-free alternative for the BBQ started to make sense to a lot of people and our sales grew and grew thankfully.
Personally though, like for many of us, it’s been claustrophobic to remain in the house, which is by no means big, for weeks on end trying to cope with heightened emotions all round and a sense of frustration that we have been given endlessly changing instructions on how to live our lives. That said, I am luckier than most with countryside around me so I’ve bee constantly check myself there when I feel ratty.”
What are you now finding challenging right now?
“The uncertainty as to when this will all be over, and life will return to reality. At the moment it feels like we’re slow walking through a disaster movie. I love people, travel, parties… Zoom just doesn’t cut it for me.”
What has got you through?
“Fitness, food and friends. I’ve kept up my exercise regime as much as possible, which has kept my mind sane. We’ve tried to eat as well as we can to keep energy levels up and not fall into the easy trap of sofa suppers. A quick run and mutual moan with a great friend around the corner is a huge mood-boost, especially as she’s a fellow entrepreneur. (And the occasional sneaky online purchase – the odd pair of earrings or new fitness kit to make me smile).”
Do you feel that Lockdown has changed your outlook and if so how?
“It’s made me appreciate the freedoms that we had before this all happened and how much I want them back!”
Personally, how have you managed your mind and wellbeing throughout Lockdown? And of your family?
“Routine has been absolutely vital for us as a family. We’ve made sure that everyone has stuck to the usual sleeping times and we’ve also remained vigilant about mealtimes. I know if I don’t eat at regular mealtimes my brain doesn’t function.
Technology has been an issue that we’ve had to manage throughout the lockdown like most. It was too easy for everyone to dive onto their phones or spend the afternoon gaming when the sun was blazing outside, so we made sure that we walked regularly and tried to maintain a healthy approach to social media. Easier said than done sometimes.”
What are your thoughts on travel right now?
“I’m about to travel to Italy for a few days with a friend so it’ll be interesting to experience the protocols to see how stringent they really are. We have discovered new parts of the British countryside that might not have happened without this pandemic. We’re now deeply in love with Devon and are off to Cumbria this Christmas.
My husband is currently recovering from a critical illness so we’re very cautious about taking precautions, wearing face masks and washing hands wherever we go. The children’s grandparents are also a concern so we’ve all learnt to be careful and follow the ever-changing rules.”
What are your current handbag essentials?
“iPhone, lip balm, hand cream, floral mask, bank cards for tapping everything! And of course my Chloe perfume to remind me to enjoy certain luxuries.”
What gets you through Working From Home?
“We went nuts a couple of years ago and bought the most swanky coffee machine. It’s been grinding all day every day since March and hasn’t failed us yet. Finding a spot in the house to work is the biggest challenge. My husband also works from home and when it was a full house, it was a challenge to find a background for my Zoom calls that wasn’t populated with either a child, a grumpy spouse or a school homework work plan stuck up behind me with blue tack.”
What is your vision for the future of your business?
“The alcohol-free market is growing very quickly. The beer and spirits industries have already recognised and reacted to this trend but the wine industry has been incredibly slow to see any value in it.
Thomson & Scott is already considerably far ahead in what we’re doing – creating a delicious non-alcoholic sparkling that is difficult to distinguish from an alcoholic version. We’ve very much taken what they call “first mover advantage” with Noughty and are watching it launch in a number of exciting territories around the world including New York, California and Australia. So the future, put simply, is shifting the global drinks industry and making a really big impact across the globe!”
Thomson & Scott is available at the following retailers around the world, but if you can’t find the wine, contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ireland – €12–15
Pembroke Wines, all Avoca Handweavers shops; Whelehan’s Wines; Gibney’s Off-Licence; The Grape & Grain; DSix Liquor; Wicklow Wines
Hong Kong – HK$95
Sipfree (launching August 2020)
Spain – €10.73
The Blue Dolphin Store (to be launched in the next couple of months)
Netherlands – €11.95
New Zealand – NZ$19.99
Red & White Cellar
Australia – AU$19.99
USA (Texas) – $14.99
Central Market (launching shortly in all outlets across Texas)
Jersey – £8.99
Portugal – €18 (free countrywide shipping for 12 bottles upwards)
Six Senses Douro Valley Bottle Shop
Italy – €22
Locanda Al Colle