Multi award-winning St Maur is a small-batch premium elderflower liqueur handcrafted in Alcester, Warwickshire, from responsibly sourced ingredients, with elderflowers gathered in ancient family-owned woodlands.
St Maur is the creation of The Earl and Countess of Yarmouth, William and Kelsey Seymour who first produced it uniquely for their wedding guests at Ragley Hall in Alcester three years ago before deciding to turn it into full-time family business at the start of lockdown.
William is the eldest son of the Marquess of Hertford and grew up at Ragley Hall, his family’s seat since the 18th century. But St Maur signals an exciting new direction for the Earl who, having stepped away from a life of aristocratic privilege, is driven by his vision to build not just a livelihood, but a ‘new legacy’ to be proud of for his two sons.
Steeped in history, St Maur is the surname used by the family in medieval times and has ancestors who rode with William the Conqueror, but by the time Jane Seymour married Henry VIII the name had changed from ‘St Maur’ to ‘Seymour.’
The wild blossoms used to make St Maur are hand-picked by William and Kelsey and their friends and family in the shadow of trees which grew when their ancestors were young. The co-ordinates on the bottles will take you to Ladies Wood in the bucolic Warwickshire countryside, and to an elder grove where the elderflowers are picked in early summer.
How did you come up with the idea of a business like yours?
We wanted to start a brand that could in time represent a revitalized family legacy. The product started with a drink for guests on our wedding day. It worked so well that it became one of the stars which aligned, and St Maur was born.
What is the main inspiration for your services?
There are brands which have literally spent millions concocting a heritage. We saw that we didn’t have to make any story up, and could set about building an authentic brand with what we have. That was really important to us. On our logo are map coordinates which will take you to a grove, in an ancient woodland, Ladies Wood in Warwickshire, which we have the privilege of owning and caring for, where we pick wild elderflowers for St Maur. That’s just one example of the provenance of what we do, and it’s an inspiration in itself. Because we have such an authentic and wide-ranging story to draw on we felt we just had to do something with it.
What is St.Maur’s mission?
Our purpose with St Maur is to offer the consumer a little drop of England’s heart, to enjoy and share, wherever they are in the world. We are from the Heart of England, and it’s a beautiful place. We are also farmers, and every day we are reminded of just how fragile that beauty is, and of the need to sustain, nurture, and protect our planet. That has to be fundamental to our mission as business people.
What are the challenges your business faces?
All the usual for a small business and consumer product in a tough economic climate. Launching a drink during a lockdown had its nuances too!
I find inspiration by turning this question on its head, actually! We can all make short lists of individuals who inspire us or who are our heroes, but perhaps it’s better to think about who would put you on their list? I have role models who I aspire to be like, and who I learn from, but I also want to become a role model, particularly for my sons. Through a twist of fate, I was born an aristocrat, so perhaps I feel the thread of history more acutely than most, and as such we are judged by the legacy we leave.
How do you relax?
As with most people who run their own businesses, and who also have a young family to look after, the concept of “relaxing” sometimes feels a bit of a foreign one! There are a number of things I enjoy when I can, which include music, wine, and running (to be clear: not all at the same time).
What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
It won’t surprise anyone that we would put the pandemic on our list here. Of course as a start-up business, and as parents with two small children, us listing time as a major constraint won’t be a surprise either!
Then there is uncertainty. As human beings, we are so deeply shocked and distressed to witness the tragedy unfolding in Eastern Europe. As business managers, there is also now of course a shock to our world that cannot but hit our economy, and the fallout will shape consumer habits and our market in ways we don’t understand yet.
How do your values show up in the work you do?
We focus on “the triple bottom line”: people – planet – profits, in that order. We have a strong ethos and that finds its way into everything we do and try to do. We set out to build a responsible business.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
It is hard work, and very demanding, but we know that everything we do, literally, is about building benefits for our family now and for the future.
How do you manage your time between family and business?
Work-life balance is important for everyone, but it is especially important to bear mind in a family business like ours. At the moment we work from home, in a beautiful part of the country, and we are very lucky in that regard. We hope that as the business grows, so too does our family-friendly work-life balance!
What are the next steps for St.Maur?
As a business, we are anchored locally and will continue to play our part in our local community. We are building our position nationally, and we can expect that to take a lot of work, but already we are turning our strategic thinking to how we take that little drop of England’s heart across the world.