Ruby’s got the spirit

DESPITE learning to walk in potato paddocks, the youngest member of the Daly Potato Farm clan never thought she would end up working on the family farm.

In fact, the bubbly and successful 27-year-old says running a business was the furthest thing on her mind when she left school at the end of grade 10.

“I hated school and I wasn’t very good at it. No one would have said, oh yes she’s going to go off and be in business,”

Ruby Daly said while on her way to Hobart’s outskirts where she’s busy on her next product development for Hellfire Bluff Distillery.

By her own admission she always has something “on the go” and says there is no time to get bored.

Since joining the Hellfire Bluff Distillery team in 2015, Ruby, who is now running the business in partnership with her brother, Nathan, has been committed to driving innovation and new products.

“I think it’s important to always be looking for new ideas and new products and to be releasing these to the market about every six months,” she said.

After recently launching Hellfire’s latest product, a non-alcohol gin called Inspirit, she is already on to the next project, making this product portable by adding a premix and putting it in a can.

The youngest of four siblings and part of a farming dynasty, the Daly family, Ruby says her parents, Susie and Gerard, encouraged all their children to go away from the farm and find their own careers, knowing the family business would always be there if they wanted to come back.

Ruby left high school and spent six years building a career in the beauty industry.

“I knew I had a really creative side and I was good with my hands and I found myself in the beauty industry,” she said.

Ruby said she and Nathan, who is now the other half of the business, both had to earn their spot back on the farm, after completing their respective trades in the beauty and building industries.

“We had to work 10 times harder than anyone else to prove our worth,” Ruby said. “We didn’t just get to rock up and have it handed to us. “I don’t think Mum and Dad were quite ready to have me involved in the distillery so I had to work out where I fitted and show what I could do.”

The Hellfire Bluff Distillery was born out of need to find a use for tonnes of waste potatoes grown on the Daly’s Boomer Bay farm on the south-east coast of Tasmania.

The family have been growing potatoes there for more than three decades. Potato vodka was the result and Hellfire Bluff Distillery launched on to the spirit scene at Agfest in 2016.

“Full disclosure there, I was in it for the distillery,” Ruby said.
“If Mum and Dad hadn’t started the distillery I wouldn’t have gone back to the farm. “I remember spending one day on the (potato) harvester and absolutely hating it.”

Despite some initial hesitation from her parents, who recognised she had a solid career and successful job in beauty, a young Ruby became the marketing and sales manager for Hellfire seven years ago.

“I had zero skills, it was a case of fake it until you make it,” she laughs.

But Ruby did have a vision and a passion to drive the distillery business forward and knew there were endless opportunities in the social media and online space and in growing the branding of the product.

At the time Hellfire entered the market they were just the 47th business to be issued with a distillery manufacturing licence in Australia.

Now there are well over 200.

“Back then vodka was such a small market so we did start to think about what else we could do.”

That’s when Hellfire Bluff decided to branch out into the gin game.

The range now includes the original potato vodka, three core gin products, a limoncello, a coffee liquor and the recent Inspirit non-alcohol gin.

“Hellfire is all about inclusion,” Ruby said.

“Increasingly people are choosing to drink less alcohol or none at all and so with this product they can still be part of the party.”

Success doesn’t come without hard work and Ruby concedes her family makes a lot of sacrifices.

“I am away a lot, it’s a lot of hard work, I know it looks like we are just over here having a lot of fun, we are … but we are working hard too.

“It’s something you never really switch off from.”

As her parents step back from the farm and its related businesses, Ruby and Nathan are taking a firmer hold of the reins.

Ruby is responsible for sales and relationship building while Nathan manages the farm production from growing to packing.

“We have had to work out our relationship as we have gone from brother and sister to effectively business partners and we certainly try to keep work things at work and family as family but it’s not always easy.

“I never want them (Mum and Dad) to not be involved, but it has been nice having them step away more and allowing us to develop the business in our way.”

Story by Amanda Lovell

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