It’s the eternal dilemma. You’re invited to a party but don’t have time or energy to select a thoughtful gift and bottle of booze. Happily, ED FITZPATRICK and LUCY BUNCE of Bevvies are here to help with their very cool gift hampers in Singapore! The business partners have curated a cracking online range of wine for gifts, plus beers, cocktails and high-end gift sets that can be delivered stress-free to your door. They talk to us about their inspiration for the brand and the trials and tribulations they’ve encountered along the way.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Ed: I moved to Singapore 11 years ago with a New York sports marketing firm. For the past six years, though, I’ve been an entrepreneur. SOS bar opened in 2016, which combined American fun, fare and live sport with great service. After the success of SOS, the business diversified into other F&B areas – including a retro tapas wine bar called Miss Fitz Kitchen + Bar, a speakeasy serving sophisticated cocktails called Roxy, and an events space and tourist kiosk bar with a view of the iconic Marina Bay skyline called Bayside Drinks & Eats.
As the business grew and the pandemic hit we needed to convert to out-of-venue sales. The group started importing quality wine from New Zealand and Australia, which helped cut costs and created an e-commerce opportunity to boost sales beyond takeaway.
Lucy: My husband and I moved to Singapore from London 13 years ago with three kids under five. When I started working here, I was on an EP; but, with a change in job and industry, I moved on to an old-style Letter of Consent, linked to my DP and husband’s EP, as this became the only pass option available to me.
With the announcement to phase out LOCs, my job security became a personal issue and a cause for concern with mounting anxiety – my job was never to fill a few hours in my day or earn some spending money, it was very much a financial necessity and need for independence. Serious consideration was given to moving back to the UK.
A real love of Singapore, numerous conversations over several glasses of wine with Ed, a desire to stay and need for increased autonomy led me to start my own wine consultancy – the incorporation of which was relatively straightforward. The LOC application, however, was not as easy as I had hoped. But with persistence (and many more glasses of wine!), Ed’s belief in me, and the submission of large amounts of paperwork, I received MOM approval for a new-style LOC linked to my directorship. I now have my own business, more independence, the right to work in Singapore and a long-term consultancy contract with Bevvies.
How did Bevvies and the gift hamper idea get started?
Ed: We wanted to create a brand that mirrored the vibrancy of the restaurants rather than becoming just another stock standard online grocer. We didn’t see ourselves as a major volume player moving lowered price products like many of our competitors. Studying the pandemic market, we saw a niche opportunity to cater to customers wanting to buy wine for gifts and drinks for a specific occasion or thank you hamper. We decided to collaborate with other small companies to provide a unique offering.
Our differentiator in our restaurants has always been our people. The majority of our staff start out in junior roles and progress to management. We’ve focused on getting the right people working together to deliver the best possible customer experience. We created another awesome team for Bevvies.
Lucy and I met three years ago when she became a wine supplier to our restaurants. We’ve been friends ever since. She has a great work ethic and is an amazing support to my business. She’s hosted events and been involved in joint marketing efforts for charity.
It was incredibly hard for Lucy when the LOC changes threatened her livelihood. Watching her take her destiny into her own hands and tirelessly working to set up her wine consultancy was inspirational. She was instrumental in realising our idea for the Bevvies gifting business and she now heads up the operation. Her passion for wine, partnership collaboration, dedication to learning the e-commerce platform and marketing precision have been spectacular. She’s not only a part of the team, but a respected mentor to other staff.
Lucy: When I joined Ed, he was already importing Carlei wines from Australia. With my help, award-winning vineyards from New Zealand and Australia have been added to the ranks and negotiations are underway with European and American wine producers. We had great wines available for retail but wanted to do more than just boring online sales. Bevvies was born out of many evenings (and even more bottles of wine) talking about the gap in the market for thoughtful, beautifully curated gifts for any occasion, available at the click of a button. Partnerships with local, highly regarded businesses were sought and our wine-fuelled dreams became reality!
What are some of your popular gift hampers in Singapore?
Ed: Bevvies curates sleek and fun gift packs. These include kits and packs featuring local, high-quality brands bundled with a great selection of award-winning wines, cocktails and beers perfect for any weekly occasion, from simple dinner parties or a day out at the beach to housewarmings. They’re ideal thank you hampers, young parent celebrations, milestone weddings, birthdays and more. You’ll save time and energy, as the gift hampers are delivered right to your doorstep after you order online.
Lucy: Our partners and products include fragrant candles from To Be Calm, vibrant Turkish beach towels from Summer Moments, luxe men’s grooming kits and vouchers from Sultans of Shave, adorable newborn accessories from Raph & Remy, and organic low-waste daily care products from Oasis Beauty Kitchen. In addition, we have event sponsors for in-venue DJ nights, parties and corporate get-togethers.
What is Bevvies’ point of differentiation?
Ed: Firstly, we’ve made gift hampers fun and cool again by working with entrepreneurial firms that are trying to offer new and interesting products to the market. We are building these partnerships and trying to avoid the competitive market of expensive gift hampers with household goods and food consumables.
Secondly, we offer premium, affordable wines for gifts. Bringing wine to an occasion seems a standard in society. We now allow you to bring wine and more – or buy a great wine for a gift at the same time as a gift hamper. Wild Earth Wine has won best red wine for its pinot noir at the London International Wine Festival. The Darling winery has won New Zealand Viticulturist of the year. And our Australian shiraz is highly rated. We’re also expanding our wine offering to European and North American vineyards in the upcoming year.
Lucy: Our ethos is simple: exclusive wine bundled with the very best that Singapore has to offer.
Have you faced any big challenges in the business?
Ed: Our first challenge was competing in an already saturated market. Luckily, we had a solid base of existing clientele from our restaurants. But it was hard getting our message out to a wider audience that we’re authentic and dedicated to supporting kick-ass local businesses.
We’ve had success using a 30/70 rule. That is, launching an idea only 30 percent to see if it works, and then adapting. Social media and other digital marketing have been crucial. We’ve hosted events with corporates and sponsored local and international DJ nights with local music promotion firm Manifest Productions. This has all helped to raise our profile.
Lucy: We’ve got plenty more in store for the future for Bevvies, so watch this space!
Special offer: Quote “ELOCT10” and receive a 10 percent discount on all Bevvies orders until the end of October!
This article first appeared in the October 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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