Kelly Ann Woods
Founder, Gillespie’s Fine Spirits, Switch Spirit Free & Boozewitch
Winner, Diversity Institute Micro-Business Award, WEST
Her passion for food and drink came from a “live off the land” way of life in rural Quebec, where she grew up on a hobby farm until the age of 17. Today, Kelly is an internationally recognized beverage coach, teacher, and consultant, a past food and beverage columnist, as well as a regular presenter on Saturday Sips on Global TV. After becoming certified in distillation, Kelly began Gillespie’s Fine Spirits in 2014, which is now the umbrella to Boozewitch Beverages, Switch Drinks, and an award-winning cocktail bar.
My first job ever was… With a little encouragement from my mom, I sold refreshments at her weekly softball games, a fold-up card table with an array of popcorn, freezies and juice.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I was born an entrepreneur. I have always wanted to leave my stamp on the world, inspire others and contribute positively to society. This is the best way I know how to do that.
My proudest accomplishment is… It is a real toss-up between managing to get a distillery open against all odds and birthing my son at home. So, both my babies.
My boldest move to date was… The Johann Von Goethe quote “Be bold and mighty forces come to your aid…” is part of my personal manifesto. I rock bold all the time. I feel like it is the default program for being a woman in a male-dominated business.
I surprise people when I tell them… I grew up in the middle of the bush in a log house my family built. My closest neighbour was three miles away. You’d think I was a real city girl, but a back-to-the -lander is where I get my spirit.
My best advice for small business owners is… It’s not my advice. It’s Nike’s. JUST DO IT! You can spend your whole life trying to make it perfect, hemming and hawing and generally resisting your genius, or you can go for it. You will fail lots along the way, but the true test of your mettle is how you rise.
My best advice from a mentor was… I was lucky enough to have two dads that I adored. They are both in spirit now, so an old friend who is a savvy businessman and watched me grow up has been named “sub-dad”. About 25 years ago he taught me:
1-Show up on time
2-Do what you say you will do
3-Finish what you start
4-Always say please and thank you
5-Never give up
“Success to me is a moving target. I think my biggest success is finding the joy and beauty in the journey.”
My biggest setback was… Strangely the single biggest thing that catapulted my business forward. It’s a long story, but it has to do with “trusted advisors”, a huge financial loss and the ending of a marriage/partnership.
I overcame it by… Leaping. I was on the precipice of crumbling and instead, I just held my breath, dug deep and went for it. “Boldness has genius power and magic in it”…. More of that Johann Von Goethe quote!
I never go a day without… Hugging my kid, drinking lots of water and sleeping at least 7 hours a night. Those things to me are pure magic.
The future excites me because… I feel like as a woman in her 40s, I have less @#$%s to give and more courage and self-worth than ever. Look out world!
Success to me means… Oh, the elusive “success”. Success to me is a moving target. I think my biggest success is finding the joy and beauty in the journey. Love and gratitude in my heart, a calm mind in the face of daily challenges and being a positive influence in the lives of others.