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Founder Feature: Rhys Staley

Rhys Staley lives for “tradition, innovation, and community” and as the founder of Natural Distilling Co., crafted premium spirits distilled with hemp and cannabis terpenes, he has created a product to champion his sustainability philosophies.

“Our hero ingredient Hemp actively reverses climate change, is high in protein and the only known plant food source of vitamin D, among numerous other clinically relevant benefits. Combine this with sustainability, providence, pride, and authenticity you get a compelling and unique market fit that resonates with consumers pursuing a healthy lifestyle. We offer customers an experience, not just an award-winning great beverage.”

As the General Manager of a Melbourne based pharmaceutical cannabis company, Rhys wanted to use a unique hero ingredient that could be grown on the family farm. So in 2015, Rhys got to testing in his grandfather's old dairy vat driven by his interest in whiskey and background in science.

“I spent six months Googling things, learning processes, making notes and doing distillery tours, over time, creating a unique recipe I really liked. It is not cheap to set up a distillery, so initially, I made do with my Grandfather’s 55-year-old dairy vat out of the shed on the family farm. Then I converted a 400-litre copper hot water service behind the wall of a dairy into a makeshift still.”

Rhys is not new to the business world having worked in rapid growth startup environments. He carries a holistic knowledge of sales, finance, marketing, procurement and supply chain management setting Natural Distilling Co. up for success, but is adamant that sustainability goals go hand-in-hand with lean growth strategies.

“We focus on sustainability both in our local environment and on the global scale, committed to creating the best drinks using the most natural methods. After three years of experimentation, I created a local and innovative twist on a dominant, yet growing category of beverages.”

Alignment is a key ingredient in Natural Distilling Co.’s success. Teamwork and a shared passion for the business's purpose ensure proactivity, humility, and a hunger to learn and advance.

If you are in the early start-up phases or even looking to scale, Rhys knows the importance of market research.

“Do as much market research as you can, when you think you have done enough, go do more. We set out with a truly clear vision, understanding of the problem we solve for our customers and their unique needs. We continue to use our customers as sounding boards, we attend 5-8 farmers markets each weekend around Gippsland and Melbourne, meeting our customers and taking on their feedback.”

“With the current media frenzy regarding the down scheduling of CBD (Cannabidiol) to Pharmacist Only (S3), there is no better time to understand the changes occurring and the market growth in this space.”

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