Celebrating Australia’s natural beauty and unusual botanicals has allowed boutique gin label Kangaroo Island Spirits to blossom in a competitive market. Find out their key ingredients to a well-rounded business model.
The allure of Kangaroo Island’s wildly rugged landscapes won the hearts of Jon and Sarah Lark more than 15 years ago, after a remarkable journey across Backstairs Passage between South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula and the island.
“It’s like you’re leaving the world behind and all of your stresses,” says Jon, co-founder of Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS). Emulating this feeling of freedom is core to the brand’s experience and they’ve quite literally bottled it.
KIS produces distinct flavour profiles with select bush natives that reflect the landscape, like the poignant natural oils from olearia (a locally-found coastal daisy-bush) or the musky earth smell of angelica root grown in their garden – two of Jon and Sarah’s favourite ingredients.
KIS is Australia’s first dedicated gin distillery and since its founding has cultivated a global following. Its O’Gin is one of the most awarded in the country, recently winning Best Contemporary Gin at the illustrious International Wine & Spirit Competition in London.
“What’s important to us is the notion of craft. Where the passion and quality of what you’re doing drives everything, followed by a very strong business model – not the other way around,” says Jon.
“By growing organically, we have enjoyed staying in touch with our product, ensuring we’re maintaining quality and not taking shortcuts.”
This commitment to craftsmanship has been pivotal in supporting KIS through turbulent times, coupled with the financial security provided by the American Express Qantas® Business Rewards Card and support from the Qantas Business Rewards program.
"Our American Express Account Manager, really understands our industry and how to put the Card to work for a business like ours," says Jon. "We love that personal touch."
As a small-batch gin distillery in a remote part of the world, KIS relies on its point of difference to attract and retain customers. This rang true in the aftermath of Kangaroo Island’s catastrophic bushfires in early 2020 when KIS experienced record growth in online sales, predominantly from the Australian community backing their Aussie-made product.
“It was very emotional to have such incredible support nationally, of which we donated $19,000 to the Stokes Bay Community Hall,” says Jon.
This humbling support provided a buffer in terms of cashflow going into COVID-19, which meant KIS didn’t require an overdraft. The American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card has no pre-set spending limit1 which means your borrowing capacity may grow over time, a key benefit for managing cashflow.
“We produce premium gin and with that comes incredibly high excise rates, so we use the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card to pay for those fees – which is its greatest benefit for us,” says Jon.
“The excise [about one third of the bottle price] can cost up to $100,000 each month, so it’s a no-brainer being able to use the Card to pay for that.”
Sarah adds, “Most of our expenses are done online and having the Card to pay for those is certainly convenient, especially with the no pre-spending limits.”
KIS has made fruitful partnerships in overseas markets with the support of the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card.
Japan is one of its strongest export markets due to a cultural appreciation of premium spirits. Though the Larks aren’t currently able to travel to Japan, they have been saving points for a trip in the future.
“With recent travel restrictions, we’ve missed out on some trips to Singapore, the United Kingdom and Japan, but we’ve been able to accumulate a bank of Qantas Points through our everyday business spending.”
Card Members earn 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 on everyday business spend; 0.5 points per $1 on utilities, insurance and government payments; and 2 points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services such as Qantas Flights, Qantas Wine and Qantas Insurance.2
Businesses can also earn triple Qantas Points on flights3, access domestic and international travel insurance for you, your partner– as well as employees holding Employee Cards4 – and access two domestic Qantas Club Lounge passes each card membership year.5
“Using the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card to pay for the high excise fees also helps us generate very valuable Qantas Points, and we’re using those to support our expansion into export markets,” says Jon.
Earn up to 1.25 Qantas Points per dollar spent on everyday business spend, uncapped.2
1 No pre-set spending limit does not mean unlimited spending. Your purchases are approved based on a variety of factors, including current spending patterns, your payment history, credit records, and financial resources known to us.
2 Qantas Points are earned in accordance with and subject to the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and ConditionsOpens external site. Your business will earn 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 of everyday spend, which does not include annual fees, late payment fee, fees and charges for travellers cheques and foreign currencies. Your business will earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent at participating merchants classified as "utilities" including gas, water and electricity providers; "government" including the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Postal Corporation, federal/state and local government bodies; and "insurance" excluding insurances offered by American Express. Your business will earn 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on the following Qantas Products and Services purchased on the Qantas merchant account (i.e. directly from Qantas): Qantas passenger flights (with a QF flight number), Qantas Holidays, Qantas Branded non-airfare products, and Qantas Frequent Flyer and Qantas Club membership joining and annual fees. Excludes Jetstar. For the full list of exclusions, please refer to the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and ConditionsOpens external site.
3 A business must be a Qantas Business Rewards Member to earn TRIPLE Qantas Points for business. The TRIPLE Qantas Points for business are only available for American Express Qantas Card Member when the Card is used to make an eligible Qantas flight booking. An eligible flightOpens external site means a domestic or international flight which has a Qantas 'QF' flight number on the ticket that is purchased in Australia; is operated by Qantas, Emirates or American Airlines; has a ticket number commencing with '081'; and is booked and travelled for business on or after the date the business registers for Qantas Business Rewards. Exclusions applyOpens external site. TRIPLE Qantas Points for Business is not available in conjunction with any other rebate, Corporate Fares Agreement or discount arrangement with Qantas. A Member's ABN and traveller's Qantas Frequent Flyer number must be quoted at the time of booking to earn Qantas Points for both the business and the traveller. Qantas will allocate 3 times the number of Qantas Points to the business under the Qantas Business Rewards Airline Reward Scheme terms and conditionsOpens external site. The maximum number of Qantas Points that can be earned from flying by a business with the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card is 4,000,000 per membership year as per the Triple Qantas Points for business benefit terms and conditionsOpens external site.
4 American Express Card Insurances are subject to terms, conditions and exclusionsOpens external site. The complimentary travel insurance cover is also subject maximum age limits, pre-existing medical conditions and limits and is available when you use your American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card to pay for return domestic or international travel. American Express Card Insurances are underwritten by Chubb Insurance Australia Limited (ABN 23 001 642 020, AFSL No. 239687) ("Chubb") and are subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the American Express Card insurances policy of insurance between American Express International, Inc. (ABN 15 000 618 208, AFSL No. 237996) ("AEII") of 12 Shelley Street, Sydney 2000 and Chubb.
5 Provided the Primary Card Member is a Qantas Frequent Flyer and has registered their Qantas Frequent Flyer number with your business' American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card, your business is eligible to receive two Qantas Club Lounge Invitations each anniversary year of Card Membership once your business makes an Eligible Qantas Purchase on your American Express Card during that year. Eligible Qantas Purchases are Qantas passenger airfares with a QF flight number purchased directly from Qantas Australia that appear on your Card statement, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Business Rewards or Qantas Club membership, joining or annual fees. Excludes purchases from Jetstar. Within 1-2 weeks of the Eligible Qantas Purchase, two Qantas Club Lounge Invitations will be assigned to the Qantas Frequent Flyer account nominated by the business. Visit the Complimentary Invitations Portal to access invitations, link it with an eligible Qantas flight booking or find out more information. Qantas Club Lounge Invitations are valid for a single visit by one guest to a Qantas Club Lounge and must be used prior to their expiry. Invitations are subject to the Qantas Club terms and conditions and are not valid for Qantas International First Class Lounges, the Qantas Chairman's Lounge, Qantas Domestic Business and or oneworld® alliance partner or associated lounges. Qantas Club Invitations cannot be carried forward to any subsequent year and must not be sold, they may only be transferred as allowed by Qantas. Invitations may be revoked or withheld if your business' American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card account is not in good standing, if the Eligible Qantas Purchase is refunded in full or if you have not complied with these Qantas Club Invitation Conditions, the Credit Card Terms and ConditionsOpens external site or the Qantas Club Lounge Access Terms and Conditions.
We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work, live and fly.
We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.