GAYLE is the first and only independently owned gay craft beer and cider company. Kate Radcliffe spoke with its founder Virginia Buckworth about her path to becoming a successful gaytrepreneur.

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When Virginia Buckworth saw a gap in the market for a brand of beer and cider that celebrated our community more than a year ago, she went for it, and GAYLE was born.

Since then, GAYLE has gained distribution in pubs and venues across the eastern seaboard of Australia, used its brand to bring visibility to marriage equality, and been a natural beverage supplier for same-sex weddings and LGBTI events including Mardi Gras.

We spoke to her about how GAYLE came about, and being an LGBTI entrepreneur.

What is your elevator pitch for GAYLE?

I’m the founder and director of GAYLE, the first and only independently owned gay craft beer and cider company. We stand for the belief that we can unite communities through something as quintessentially Australian as sharing a few drinks with mates.

We are dedicated to sponsoring and supporting the LGBTI community throughout Australia.

Tell us about your career path.

To say it has been diverse would be an understatement. I started my life as a general and psychiatric nurse, before my entrepreneurial streak took over, and I opened and managed The Playground Nightclub (a stylish alternative for women) in the eighties.

Since then I have worked in sales and marketing in the medical field, with a sidebar living in Thailand where I owned and ran an import and export business around gifts and homewares.

Thirty years after opening The Playground, founding GAYLE has been a career dream come true. I never thought I would feel as fulfilled today as I did then. My passion and drive to work with the LGBTI community is stronger than ever.

Where do you see GAYLE heading in the future?

Hopefully GAYLE will become a go-to and household brand, both in Australia and overseas (later this year, GAYLE will be a first-time sponsor of Asia’s biggest gay New Year’s festival, the White Party in Bangkok).

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would love to be overseeing GAYLE as a successful business while travelling for both business and pleasure, knowing no matter where I am a can of GAYLE will be close at hand.

How do you keep a work and life balance?

Often with difficulty. I can be guilty of trying to be all things to all people, which can backfire.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I spend most of the day on the telephone and computer, growing our business through networking, following up on existing customers, and trying to gain new business.

There are many days where I wish I could be in more places than one; for example, out on the road both here in South Australia and interstate, seeing customers face-to-face.

Who do you look up to as an LGBTI role model in business?

Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see GAYLE served on Qantas flights during Mardi Gras and Feast Festival (in Adelaide)?

They would be fantastic. I’ll pursue that.

What advice would you give to a budding LGBTI entrepreneur?

Have a go, do not be afraid of failure, and remember the opposite to success is not failure, it is complacency. Use the best tools of the trade you can find, have a business plan, research your market, work with like-minded people, have a mentor, stick to the vision, and network.

What is a productivity tool you swear by?

Laptop, iPad, and iPhone.

Do you think it’s important to be ‘out’ in the workplace?

I think that’s an individual decision, but for me personally, yes.

GAYLE is presenting a series of Gayle Sessions events to showcase some of Australia’s most talented LGBTI performers. The first featured Denise Hanlon and Trevor Ashley at The Imperial on December 2.

For more information on future Gay Sessions events visit: www.gaylebev.com.au/gaylesessions

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