Setting up a business in lockdown: Jake Stewart – Cello

Images above: Jake Backer; Cello


Strictly speaking a pre-lockdown business, Jacob Stewart, 23, started Cello, a one-person company making and selling his homemade Limoncello, in late 2019

When he left school he taught fencing, football and cricket in a school for a couple of years before starting a degree in aeronautical engineering. But he quickly decided university wasn’t for him and decided to try his hand at what he really wanted to do: to set up his own business.

Cello is Limoncello, the lemon liqueur which originated in southern Italy. Basically fresh lemon juice, sugar and vodka, Jacob’s version is the recipe perfected by his father which became a family tradition and always went down well at social gatherings.

The two of them tweaked the recipe for mass production and set about working through the various bits of legislation Jake would need to comply with in order to make it and sell it from home.

Making and bottling Cello was the easy bit. Marketing it during lockdown has proved harder. Jake sold his first batch in late 2019 and has promoted it at several trade shows and markets. He’s now selling it online and will deliver to W4, W6, W8, W10, W12, W14, SW3 and SW7.

Cello is made with Sapling vodka, chosen for its quality and taste, but also for its sustainability. Sapling vodka is made in London from British wheat and for every bottle they sell, they plant a tree (18,254 at time of writing). On each bottle a unique code tells you what tree was planted and where.

‘One tree can absorb up to 1.5 tonnes of carbon in its lifetime. Making a bottle of vodka emits about 2.5kg of carbon. You could say each bottle of Sapling pays back over 535 times’.

The lemons are Italian unwaxed and organic from Lemon & Limes in Turnham Green Terrace.

Jacob’s next moves are to launch his next flavour – Cello lime – and to work out how to upscale to sell Cello as a wholesaler.

Sadly his father David died in April 2020, one of the first to fall victim to Covid-19 in Chiswick.

“It’s great to be working at something he had such a big interest in” says Jacob, “but also sad. He would have been really pleased to see it growing”.

Cello retails at £22.80 a bottle and is available from Jacob’s website.


Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Setting up a business in lockdown: Rita Kastrati – Bea’s Flowers London

See also: Setting up a business in lockdown: James Willcocks – software engineer

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