Tom Young MBE and daughter Karen produce beautiful glassware, creating the very best in innovative and creative concepts. Together they have supplied some of the world’s leading distillers with products used for the distilling process. The idea for the business was born out of the Legend of The Angels’ Share After watching a Film in 2012 of the same name by Ken Loach Karen & Tom designed the Whisky Angel. This is now the signature product. Paul Andrews spoke to Karen Somerville to find out more.
What is your position in the business?
Director & Co-Founder
When was the business founded?
What does it do?
We are a specialist glass manufacture and producer of giftware
Tell me a little about the history of the business?
Formed by Dad and daughter, we used skills of glassblowing to match creativity and created an icon for scotch whisky along with innovative designs for barware and glass gifting.
What generation are you and what are your first memories of the family business?
First but second really – my dad has an MBE for his services to the glass industry and he has been glassblowing for over 65 years.
Are there any other family members working in the business?
Yes my husband is also part of our small team.
How important was the business in your life as you grew up?
I was immersed in my dads craft. As a young girl I watched him his every move and although I don’t glassblow myself I feel like I know exactly what needs to be done to achieve certain finishes and techniques.
What was your journey into the family business and what do you do now?
I set off wanting to travel and do languages and I ended up in travel retail before I helped my parents in their business when I was in my late twenties. Dad always wanted me to go and do my own thing and if that gravitated back to his business then fine. So I joined the company in 1999 and it was retired and sold on in 2005 – so I went back into retail management and operations for a local university. Then in 2013 Angels’ Share became a thing and dad was pulled from retirement.
What values are important to the family and the business?
Authenticity and transparency.
Do you build the family ownership into the marketing and brand narrative and if so, how?
Yes very much so , all our marketing is around family tradition , heritage and longevity of a craft.
What do you think makes working in a family business special?
Are there any disadvantages associated with working in a family business?
Yes, you never stop talking about business!
Is there a next generation in the wings?
Possibly I have two sons and one is already very keen to get involved but he is young and like my father I will probably set him out on his own path and if he levitates back then so be it.
What advice would you give to anyone in the next generation considering joining their family firm?
Be aware of what has been built before.
If you could talk to your younger self before you joined the business, what would you say?
You should have had this idea years ago!
If you could sum up the family business in three words, what would they be?
Good honest work
Find out more about Karen and the business here