Sarah's Mellow Alco: A second income stream

Sarah Callendar of Sarah's Mellow Alco. - ANISTO ALVES
Sarah Callendar of Sarah's Mellow Alco. - ANISTO ALVES

Looking for another source of income while finishing her internship in journalism in 2017, Sarah Callendar created Sarah’s Mellow Alco and rustles up alcoholic drinks at her Arima home. But she never saw it becoming a full-time gig or such a highly-rated product.

With the Christmas season approaching, she decided to find a way to capitalise on that while completing her internship and earning extra income.

“A lot of people buy strange things or things in abundance, so I went home and started mixing ponche a creme and some other stuff, and came out in the streets to sell.”

When Callendar first came out to sell, there was slight hiccup, as a friend of hers wanted a spot at Eddie Hart Savannah, Tacarigua and tried promoting it, but was unsuccessful.

“So I remained with all of these products in my hand. But another person, who had a car, she and I decided to go to various companies' stores and give samples.”

Another year of offering samples went by before a few of her friends, at the beginning of 2019, asked her to consider this as a full-time job, but she was hesitant, as it was a start-up.

“I also thought that it would be really hard to penetrate the market as a new business. I wasn’t sure where I was going with it…I thought about having to get a particular amount of money to start up the business. So I had a lot going through my head.”

Callendar said she was also apprehensive because the outcome was uncertain. But thanks to her friends’ advice and motivation from them and others, she decided to modify a few flavours, to keep up with her tradition of adding at least two new ones annually.

“It was a bit technical, because I don’t have any history in mixology or anything like that. But some of the flavours I modified, I took the response from the customers, and depending on their feedback, I would know what I had to tweak and how to facilitate their tastebuds.”

Later that year, Callendar came up with a name and did a survey to determine who in the market would prefer a sweet or mellow drink over one that was really strong. After that, she went on to register the business, and now she showcases her talent at a number of micro- and small-business markets.

Sarah Callendar interacts with a customer at her booth during Nedco's entrepreneurial expo at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya on August 4. - ANISTO ALVES

Why alcohol? Callendar said this is what appealed to those she was advertising to, though from her survey, she found not everyone was interested in getting high or in strong drinks.

“We did extensive research and spoke to people of different ages. We realised there’s a niche to fulfil – there are people who really want to drink when they have certain occasions, but they (would) rather have something that they can identify with and keep them level-headed.”

That is when she decided, alcohol it was – but it wouldn’t be harsh to the taste or overwhelmingly strong.

Callendar said she is still perfecting her mixtures, but from the feedback she has got, she is 95 per cent sure and 95 per cent there in terms of perfection. Gradually, she said, she will get there.

“But if I have the need to probably just tweak a little more or leave it as is, I would do it, because I always want to appeal to our customers or potential customers.”

All of her ingredients – even the bottles – are locally sourced.

“Charlotte Street is my favourite place…I love to shop on Charlotte Street. I get mangoes, pineapples and a lot of other products. I go to different places, but I love Charlotte Street market, and I get a lot from there.”

Callendar makes 11 flavours some of which are fruit-based – dragon fruit and lemon lime – while others are dairy-based – Irish cream, caramel toffee and coconut nog – all of which are made with rum. Though each product has its set list of ingredients, the price applies across all flavours, depending on the size, and can range from $30-$160.

She offers delivery and catering services of her products, as placing her drinks in groceries is not yet on the horizon.

“It’s not on the to-do list right now."

But then she went to the National Entrepreneurship Development Co Micro and Small Businesses Market at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, on August 2.

"A lot of people asked if we have a storefront and because they kept asking…I felt like this is something I can actually consider.”

She said once she started thinking about it, she envisioned her own store, with the name Mellow Alco, for everyone, especially those visiting TT.

“These products actually exude what the Caribbean is about – the flavours, richness and colours – and I want my storefront to have a natural twist with bamboos and even offer the drinks in coconuts.”

Callendar wanted to make it clear that though she came up with the idea and is the owner, it’s not a one-man show.

“I have a team who work with me. They help manage the business and they show up and have really nice personalities. They actually represent.”

The team includes her three sons, who, she said, are very efficient and do a good job of representing the brand the same way she does.


"Sarah’s Mellow Alco: A second income stream"

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