Last summer, Laura Riches (pictured left) and Laura Rosenberger (pictured right) both independently started work on a fresh interpretation of the much-maligned boxed wine format, with quality and design at the forefront: Laylo. Fast forward seven months and their Lot #1: Tempranillo is taking the wine world by storm.
Their Lot #2: Sauvignon Blanc is due to launch later this month (don’t forget to book your spot at our The Joy Club Presents… evening with the winemaker, Pierre-Jean Sauvion! This talk is free to members, who can sign-up here. Not a member but would still like to attend Laylo’s talk? You can register here).
We asked Laura Riches to tell us how this all came about, and why she believes boxed wine is a smarter way to drink. Over to Laura…
If you’d told me this time last year that I’d quit my ‘safe and steady’ job, mid-pandemic, to co-found a wine brand – I’d have said you were dreaming! But here I am. And, boy, it’s been an exciting ride…
My Co-founder Laura and I (yes, confusing…) originally met at Naked Wines in 2016. I held the position of Marketing Director, while Laura was the Chief Operating Officer.
It was an amazing few years! Each week we’d taste a lineup of over 30 wines, with our Wine Director (one of just 417 Masters of Wine in the world) explaining what made each special or unique. We were sharing a flat at the time, and after a tasting, we’d chosen a bottle to polish off at home – there’s something so joyful about a glass of amazing wine on a Tuesday night!
Fast forward to last summer, when we’d both left Naked Wines to pursue new things. I was working on a side project – and I was getting very excited about it.
I’d been thinking for a while that boxed wine really is a smarter way to drink: it stays fresh for six weeks from opening (perfect for the ‘odd glass’!) and is much better for the environment, as each box generates 90% less carbon than the equivalent wine in glass bottles. But due to quality issues in the past, it’s got an image problem. The idea was to make boxed wine cool again. The plan was to source premium wines from independent winemakers, and wrap them up in boxes you could proudly display on your countertop.
By pure coincidence, Laura sent me a text message asking for my opinion on a business plan she’d been creating. It turned out (you’ve probably guessed it…) we’d both spotted the same opportunity. We knew we made a great team, so it made complete sense to bring the idea to life together!
Our first product – our Lot #1: Tempranillo – is made by two winemaking sisters, Ruth and Ana de Andres. The minute we tasted it, we knew it was ‘the one’… All juicy blackberries, spicy warmth and a classy lick of oak. The first boxes landed on customers’ doorsteps in November and we’ve already featured in top product lists in Stylist Magazine, the Metro and The Independent. The wine was even a finalist in the blind-tasted People’s Choice Wine Awards alongside huge businesses such as The Wine Society and Mcguigan. Real ‘pinch me’ stuff.
But most importantly we’re inundated with messages and emails from customers who love the wine. It’s not been easy launching a business in the middle of a global pandemic, but every thumbs up makes it totally worth it.
Laylo doesn’t exclusively work with female winemakers – and I’m pleased to say we’ve recently expanded our team to include somebody who isn’t called Laura! But we are fortunate to work with some stellar women every day. From the winemaking sisters behind our first wine, to our first hire (a brilliant Cambridge graduate called Martha).
We’re conscious we’re not only seeking to replace glass bottles on customers’ tables – but as female founders we’re seeking to break glass ceilings too.
So throughout March, a month dedicated to celebrating women, I’ll be raising a glass of Laylo to the future – and to the amazing women who have been (and are set to be) part of Laylo’s journey!
Read more of our blogs here.