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Mirror Margarita wins Sainsbury’s listing following incubator programme for black-owned brands

Award-winning cocktail brand Mirror Margarita has won a listing in Sainsbury’s as part of the retailer’s first incubator programme, which aimed to support black founder-led start-up businesses and be a springboard to grow their brands within the market. 

Mirror Margarita-founder Deano Moncrieffe with his award-winning rtd

The £1 million 16-week diversity-boosting Thrive with Sainsbury’s programme was run in conjunction with Foundervine and Mission Ventures, and aimed to combat the barriers Black and ethnic minority start-up businesses face. Over the summer, nine successful applicants were picked out of 466 applicants for the programme, with an initial grant of £20,000 to bring their brands to the retail market. This was supported by further funding and support grants, one-on-one training and group sessions with retail experts to boost their knowledge and support their brand with business branding, production and product improvements. Each founder then pitched their brand to a team of buyers and category team leaders for a permanent spot on the supermarket’s shelves.

Sainsbury’s has announced that three brands will go on shelf over the summer, including Mirror Margarita and fellow rtd cocktail Riddles Ice Tea.

Mirror Margarita was founded by Deano Moncrieffe, a Tequila and Mezcal specialist who owns London’s agave spirits bar Hacha. Moncrieffe started his career in Paris more twenty years ago and made his name developing small brands from concept to creation. He later become a global Tequila ambassador for Diageo, overseeing Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In 2020 he founded Equal Measures, an organisation that seeks to increase diversity across the drinks industry and boost the representation of people of colour, which he told db’s sister publication, the spirits business is “very, very low and sometimes non‐existent”.

Riddles Ice Tea will be one of the first alcoholic ice tea drinks to hit the supermarket’s shelves, the retailer said. The rtd cocktail is a blend of nutrient-dense ‘superfood’ Nigerian Moringa Tea with premium tequila, which has been sweetened with agave and natural fruit flavourings. It was founded by Charlie Odunukwe, a former beverage technologist in 2016, who build the brand from scratch, but then faced problems scaling it up. 

Charlie Odunukwe, founder of Riddles Ice Tea

Silika Shellie-Manso, director of grocery innovation at Sainsbury’s said the new brands were “a perfect fit” for the retailer’s customers and that she was excited “to welcome them into the Sainsbury’s fold”.

“We launched Thrive with Sainsbury’s to give Black founder-led start-up brands access to quality support and services to which they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, as innovation and inclusivity are at the heart of what we do. What these brands have achieved over the last sixteen weeks is phenomenal and we hope all businesses involved can take away skills and knowledge to help them grow even further,” she said.

Cecil Adjalo, COO at Foundervine, added that running the accelerator program had been “an exciting and truly inspiring experience” and the  transformation in all of the brands over the program was a testament to the excellence, ambition, and drive as Black founders.

“Through this program, it has become clear to me that Black founders need more opportunities like this to thrive and succeed,” he said. “I am grateful to Sainsbury’s for making this possible. The journey for these founders has just begun, and I cannot wait to see some of them in my local Sainsbury’s store, making their mark on the food industry.”


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