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We celebrate women leading our business and equal employment stance all year round – not just on Women’s Day and Equal Pay Day! This month seem like a great excuse though to share our admiration for them with our loyal followers..
Just like in an elephant family, Elephant Gin is led by a strong matriarch – Tessa Gerlach, the company co-founder, a passionate wildlife photographer and an elephant devotee.
You’ll also get to know our Brand Ambassador, a gymnast and bartender Kate Logvinova, an animal-nerd and spin-class-pro Nicole Schwoch, the ultimate baking champion Mirka Meier and a part-time comedian, full-time marketing & design queen Kat Geborys who will be speaking this month at World Spirit Conference about sustainability in spirits.
Tessa Gerlach, co-founder of Elephant Gin
Before the Elephant Gin adventure, she definitely didn’t expect the life to take that turn. Growing up in a rural north-west Germany full of bad bars serving bad schnapps and lacking many wildlife specimens, as a child she dreamt of becoming a marine biologist or a film producer, while falling asleep with her favourite toy – a stuffed plush elephant called Dumbo.
Later on, holding degrees in film and finance from Boston’s Emerson College and University College London, Tessa worked in the film industry, including Universal Pictures and Working Title Films in Los Angeles and London. At cocktail bars she fell in love with her ultimate favourite drink of all time – an ice cold gin sour (a really sour one, with no egg).
In London, Tessa met her husband-to-be Robin, with whom she decided to launch a product that would combine conservation work with producing an African-inspired gin.
Previous travels in Africa, where she got to meet elephant conservation activists, inspired her to start a business that gives back. Brave wildlife researchers like Jane Goodall, Diane Fossey, Daphne Sheldrick & Cynthia Moss have had a great influence on her too – however, when it comes to having a gin sour with anyone she could imagine, dead or alive, it’s Sir David Attenborough who she set her heart on…
At the beginning, unsure if the business would ever take off, Tessa & Robin worked both of their full-time jobs while producing Elephant Gin at evenings and weekends. Eventually, they were ready to commit to the venture full-time.
Since then, a business has been steadily growing and when asked about the biggest achievement to date, Tessa’s biggest pride are the contributions towards elephant conservation foundations – currently marked at over EUR 500,000 in donations – through which Elephant Gin is supporting 45 anti-poaching rangers among other projects.
At Elephant Gin, Tessa looks after product development, as well as marketing, communication, events, design and international branding aspects. She is also responsible for the collaborative wildlife conservation efforts with partner foundations in Kenya and South Africa. In her free time Tessa loves scouting food and antique markets, photography and travelling – which all come together resulting in beautiful photos you can admire on our social media channels and materials.
Nicole Schwoch, Chief Financial Officer
From a childhood dream to saving sharks, to taking a deep dive into the German financial sector, Nicole has finally found a place that combines her passion for animals, finance and gin…
Born and raised in Brandenburg, 80 km away from Berlin, young Nicole dreamt of being a marine biologist all thanks to her first snorkelling vacation with her parents. There in Maldives she fell in love with whitetip reef sharks and wanted to save them…
Her life developed to meet a lot of shark-like characters during her studies and work experience, as she pursued business administration studies and apprenticeship in one of the biggest tax consulting firms in Berlin, which resulted in a position in the external audit department afterwards. She also completed an MBA in Governance, Risk, Compliance and Fraud Management and after gaining 4 years work experience in tax, consulting and external audit she moved to a big incubator company and helped them with setting up compliance processes, an internal control system and audit and risk management department.
She joined the team at Elephant Gin in 2018, where she had a chance to combine all her passions – for finance, animals and gin of course! She is an absolute animal fan, a supporter of 4ocean, a godparent of James Flamingos in the Berlin Zoo, foster parent of 2 elephants at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and a member of Best Friends Foundation – a German-Bulgarian dog rescue initiative.
Nicole’s impressive home gin bar earned her ‘Gin Queen’ title at the office. During her cocktail making sessions, she puts to test gins from all around the world that she brings back as souvenirs from her extensive travels. If not at her home bar, you’ll probably find her sipping an Earl Grey-infused White Lady at her favourite Berlin spots Victoria Bar or Truffle Pig.
Kat Geborys, Creative Marketing Manager
Due to lack of choice in Polish supermarkets and creativity of her mother, Kat indulged in many bizarre dishes like pasta with strawberries. It was one of the biggest disappointments of her adult life to realise the iconic romantic spaghetti sharing scene in Lady & the Tramp did not involve strawberries, but meatballs… Afterall Kat’s only VHS cassette (with Polish dubbing over dialogues but with original German songs) was Lady & Tramp!
After a photography exhibition, a few poetry slams and a failed teenage punk rock band career later, Kat ventured to Scotland to study Marketing as her BA and Business Management as her Masters degrees. During her studies, she worked very hard – partied even harder – in hospitality, which was a great all-around preparation for her soon-to-come position in a London-based marketing agency specialising in spirits.
She spent a few years in London and Manchester with an even sharper focus on alcohol – and local cocktail bars, before joining the marketing team of the best British… steakhouse. A rather odd choice for a vegetarian, but Hawksmoor not only sources sustainable meat, but also supports charities like Action Against Hunger – and is one of the best UK employers, embracing individuality and wellbeing of its staff!
Kat got a taste of the type of company she really loves working for – and after a short stint in Bermuda and a working holiday in Australia, three years ago she settled down in Germany – at Elephant Gin. Along with Tessa, she is helping move the brand towards even more planet and people friendly practices, for which Elephant Gin has received numerous awards. She will be also be speaking about it at the upcoming Spirits Conference in London on 26th of March.
After work hours, you’ll find Kat cycling around Berlin, trying out her luck at stand-up comedy (which is going a little better for her than tap dancing she tried last year) and dancing at indie rock parties in protest of techno music.
Kate Logvinova, European Brand Manager
Kate grew up in Samara, Russia – a place filled up with a rather interesting bar scene serving overly sweet Piña Coladas with nuclear red maraschino cherries on top.
As a child Kate played with airplane models her dad was preparing for University, and annoyed her mother with her passion for mixing up kitchen spices. Despite her dreams of becoming a cardiologist or veterinarian, Kate followed her dad’s footsteps and graduated from Samara’s University of Aerospace Technologies in Economics & Management. After completion, she made a bold move of relocating to Italy for further education to study Organisational and Human Resources in the State University of Milan. During university she was working as a choreographer, after practising rhythmic gymnastics for 13 years and, as she claims, devoted too much time to computer games – especially ‘Heroes of Might and Magic’.
Exposed to Milan’s incredible bar industry, Kate realised she wanted to pursue a slightly different career than what University set out for her. She started self-educating, reading books, asking lots of questions and working at Mag Bar, which taught her the basics of the bar trade. After that, she tended bars at outstanding Julep’s, Terrazza 12 and The Botanical Club, at which she was promoted to a bar manager position. The likes of Barbe Nicole Ponsardin (‘Grande Dame of Champagne’), a famous French widow and a businesswoman who started the champagne industry, now joined the ranks of strong female figures that inspired her; a wildlife researcher Diane Fossey and a ballerina Maya Plisetskaya.
Given all the that, no surprise the infamous Piña Coladas have been replaced by her new favourites – classic dry Italian aperitivos, martinis and gimlets. It’s what she devotes her free time to – besides the love of food, books and wildlife documentaries, she’s on the quest to find the best olives for aperitifs. Asked whom she’d have that perfect drink with, without hesitation she mentions Paul Nicklen, a renowned photographer, marine biologist and conservationist from Sea Legacy – the love for animals since the dream of becoming a vet never faded away.
Four years ago, her childhood passion for spices has brought her to Elephant Gin. Intrigued by buchu, a unique African botanical used in distillation, she came to Milan’s Gin Day with a mission to speak to the brand representatives and find out more about it. And the rest is history!
Mirka Meier, Customer Relationships Manager
Since she was a kid, Mirka was a book nerd and dreamt of opening her own bookstore. She always admired strong minded women who build their own businesses and she sure was a major force building Elephant Gin! As the first employee to founders Tessa and Robin, she helped the company grow!
Originally from Bavaria, Mirka traveled extensively through her teenage and adult years: from Hong Kong, to UK and Seychelles until she finally settled in Hamburg in 2010. She fell in love with this North German city because of the calming waters surrounding it and friendly people, who as the saying goes, are not easy to win over, but when you do they are your friends for life.
Mirka is now successfully juggling her position at Elephant Gin, but also looking after a baby boy Quinn and a baby dog Lotta. Every morning before Quinn ventures out to his kinder garden, he loves to lie on Lotta and squeeze her really hard goodbye (safe to say – Lotta is not as excited to receive this suffocating hugs)…
In her free time, Mirka enjoys sipping Tom Collins, reading and baking – she’s a real expert at many sweet delights. Her favourite is her mother’s recipe cheesecake – but ours is her Elephant Sloe Gin Ice Cream!
The first step to changing the world is having the right spirit!