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Elisabeth Hellström

Meet Elisabeth Hellström - Founder and CEO of Hellström Gin and BSc in Retail Management alum.

Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.

I am the founder and CEO of Hellström Gin, and I am doing a big variety of things - everything from export, sales, developing new products and being in production. As it is a newly started company you have to jump in wherever it is needed!


What interested you in working with gin/the spirit industry?

I have always had a big interest in food and drinks. I am also passionate about entrepreneurship and I knew prior to starting my studies at SSE that I wanted to start my own company. One summer when I was the hotel manager at my family’s hotel on Gotland, we made our own gin together with another distillery which was a lot of fun, and that was when my dream of one day starting my own gin company.


What has been the most challenging part of starting/running a distillery?

The biggest challenge has been the administrative part, there are a lot of documents and permits which can be overwhelming. You also have to be prepared that everything takes twice as long as you first thought. But when I held the first bottle of Hellström Gin, it was an incredible feeling and really worth all the hard work!


What is the most exciting part about starting/running a distillery?

I love the close contact I have with our customers. It really is like an extended family for me. To see them make cocktails, take photos and write reviews that it is their favorite gin really feels surreal and makes me want to develop new products and keep challenging myself.


Where do you see the Swedish spirit industry going in the next 5-10 years? Is there a growing spirit community in Sweden?

I think we will see more high quality and premium spirits, as people want to drink less but better. They want to know who is behind the product and see the whole story behind it.


Are there a lot of female distillers/distillery owners? If not, why do you think the industry has an uneven balance? What would you say to women considering working in the spirits industry?

No, there are not many female distillers, but we are growing! I think we need more role models. Even though I did not have many female role models in distilleries, I looked in other industries and read day and night how they started and what to think about. In the end, it is also a question of passion. If you believe in something, just do it! And that is no matter what industry you choose.


How did your time/education at SSE help guide you to the career journey you have embarked on?

During my time at SSE I met some other entrepreneurs which motivated me to start my own company. I also developed an understanding of the business side of running a company which has been very useful.


Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current students?

  1. Attend as many guest lectures as possible! It really was inspiring seeing other people’s journey starting their own companies, and it gave me an extra boost to actually taking that step! I remember listening to Elvira who started Mockberg, it was really amazing and gave me a lot of motivation to hear about her journey.
  2. Don’t be too stressed about your grades! It is the whole experience that matters, from who you meet to what you learn.
  3. Focus on your passion! All courses won’t be for you, but put extra energy on the subject you want to work with in the future.


What are three phrases that sum up your time at SSE?

Mind expanding, friends for life and challenging.