In the hot seat

Kelly Neill, Managing Director, Panacea Drinks

Kelly Neill, Managing Director, Panacea Drinks

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

I run my own small business, Panacea Drinks, which is currently based in Saintfield and specialises in a range of healthy water kefir drinks, naturally sparkling drinks that are dairy- and gluten-free and packed with gut-friendly bacteria. The range comprises five flavours and is also vegan-friendly. The business produces the drinks here and will be moving to bigger premises in Belfast in 2018.

Wife to Paul, mummy to Holly. I am originally from Newcastle upon Tyne but have lived in NI for nearly 15 years now, so I definitely count this as home.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY INVOLVE?

It starts with a manic morning and the school run. I’m afraid to admit that my phone is surgically attached to my hand and I like to make use of it all the time. I check in the morning for orders that have come through so these are picked, packed and sent off with the courier or, for bigger orders, we check stock and arrange the pallet. If we are manufacturing drinks that week also, I check on them to see how they are fermenting. I also look after all our marketing and social media so look at this and see if anyone needs replying to. I usually have a meeting of some sort most days as well so end up having a couple of coffees along the way. I then look at our sales and who we can target, check our bank account and do some reconciliation. No two days are the same. Fridays are usually spent catching up on emails as we don’t send any parcels out. Evenings are spent catching up with my hubby and daughter, then check emails again before hopefully watching an episode of Peaky Blinders before bed!

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

Taking the step to starting my own business. It’s been a total rollercoaster and will continue to be so; however, I’ve learned more in this past 18 months than ever before.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

The opportunities it provides to meet people and talk to them about my products and my approach to health. I have always been interested in a holistic approach to health and count nutrition and the human body as two of my favourite learning subjects. It fascinates me how all these cool things are going on inside of us without us even noticing.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?

Actually, it was something a friend sent to me recently that is the ‘so what’ exercise from Tim Ferris – make a statement or question and say ‘so what’ at the end of it. It helps me when I’m feeling overwhelmed or unfocused. It totally helps me to de-stress about situations and put it into perspective.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GRIPE?

People being rude. There’s just no need.

WHAT TALENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE?

To sing. I’m convinced there’s an inner Beyonce in me.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS/AMBITIONS?

To have a successful business and become financially independent so I don’t have to ever worry about paying a bill again.

WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE?

With my family.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD PRODUCT?

I love soup! It’s seriously the easiest way to get the most nutrients out of food. Though it must be freshly made, not the crap out of a tin. I’d love a range of ‘soup-er foods’!

HOW DO YOU RELAX?

I’ve recently been doing more yoga, which I love, and reading more. I kind of got out of the habit of reading, but when my husband is working nights, I like nothing better than turning off the TV, put my PJs on and getting lost in a story.

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