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Alumni in Focus

Anna Smith

Owner/Founder, Words With Wine

Anna Smith

Anna Smith, alumna and entrepreneur, launched her new book and wine subscription business Words With Wine seven years after graduating and during the global Covid-19 pandemic.

She’s the fourth member of her family to graduate from RGU, following in the footsteps of her father and alongside her two siblings!

Anna graduated with a BA in Events Management in 2014 and moved to London, where she found a job at Envy Create, an experiential marketing company specialising in gaming events. Her job gave her opportunities to travel to Germany, Sweden, France, and Belgium. After gaining some experience in marketing, Anna took a year out to travel.

Following this, and in her undoubtable entrepreneurial spirit, she started her first company Anna Elizabeth Weddings and Events. She trained with a leading wedding planner in London then returned to Edinburgh where she based her company. Although she loved her role, she found there wasn’t a big demand for luxury weddings and events in Scotland. She began working as a recruitment head-hunter for marketing, communications, and creative roles and as she progressed in her role, she decided to close Anna Elizabeth Weddings. Unfortunately, due to Covid she was made redundant in November 2020.

Anna started Words With Wine, a book and wine pairing monthly subscription box, because it was a product that she wanted for herself and couldn’t find. Lockdown made it impossible for her to attend her book club and wine clubs which she missed. She not only turned her passion for books and wine into a business and but has created an online community where she can share her passions with other liked-minded book and wine lovers. Words With Wine was set up to encourage not only her subscribers to try new things but also to encourage herself to step outside her red wine and crime novel comfort zone.

Looking back, Anna wishes she’d had the idea sooner - “I think the pandemic was the ideal time for this type of business. With everyone being stuck at home and looking for unique ways to stay entertained and looking for gifts to send to friends and family to perhaps cheer them up. Some areas have been tricky due to the pandemic such as getting my alcohol license and sourcing some of the wines which have been stuck in customs. But overall, I think the pandemic allowed me the time to concentrate on the business more than I would have if I was still employed full time.”

Anna tells us that decision making is the most useful skill she’s learnt on this journey. As she puts it, she’s the only person in this business so every decision is her own, whether it’s the right one or the wrong one, it’s a learning curve. She’s learned to trust her gut and go with what she has envisioned for the business rather than let other peoples’ opinions sway her.

Her future plans include growing the business to 1000 subscribers per month by the end of year one and 10,000 by year five. She also has some ideas of new products to add or options for boxes such as selecting what colour of wine you want or genre of book, and possibly some Words With Wine events along the way too.

We always ask our alumni what’s the one piece of advice they’d share with other budding entrepreneurs and they never let us down with their inspirational words and encouraging advice. Anna echoes a very similar sentiment as she says, “Go for it. Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ as there’s never going to be the right time. If you are passionate about something you will find a way to make it work. You maybe don’t think you have the right skills needed to do it, but you will learn them as you go.”

Of course, we couldn’t end the interview without asking Anna what her favourite wine and book pairing is. Her all-time favourite crime novel is ‘Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson’ which she recommends pairing with a Carmenere or a Malbec. That’s Friday evening sorted!

Words With Wine can be found:

On LinkedIn: Anna Smith

On Instagram: Words With Wine (@wordswithwineuk)

On Facebook: Words With Wine

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