John Kernaghan at Liquorice was quick to see the potential of Lisa Chisholm, who was a regular customer before joining the business 18 months ago.
“Lisa came on board mainly on the deli side of the business,” John explains. “But I soon latched on to the fact that her main passion is on the wine side. So last year we arranged for her and two other members of the team to do WSET Level 2, in which she achieved a distinction.
“She’s got a very astute palate. We can go our separate ways at a tasting then meet up and I know she’ll go, ‘oh my goodness, you should try this’. We’ve progressed to the point now where I involve her in ideas and decisions because she is quite creative and is always suggesting different angles and ways of approaching things like events.
“We recently ran a blues evening in store, with food, wine and whisky all linked in, and that was fundamentally her idea that she saw through to fruition. She’s got a really nice manner as well as showing initiative and confidence.”
Even though Lisa had been regularly attending wine courses run by the LEA, she says her career change from the finance industry was more happy coincidence than long-term strategy.
“I enjoyed wine just from a purely social perspective,” she says, “and then I went along to a course with my parents. It was very, very basic, literally an introduction to wine, but then it progressed to intermediate and then advanced. There was no accreditation; I wasn’t doing it with a new career in mind, it was just pure enjoyment. It was run by a gentleman called Colin Legg; he really was a wonderful and inspirational tutor.
“It wasn’t until having my children and looking for something to do that this opportunity came along. As a customer of Liquorice with my friends, I just got chatting to John who said they were looking for someone to help out with the cheese room.
“As time has gone on, I’ve got involved in both sides of the business. It’s been a great opportunity and learning curve for me. The WSET course gave me that little bit of extra confidence to be able to talk to the customers. It was strange going back to school after all these years and learning again, and revising, but I really enjoyed the process.”
Lisa continues to flex her people skills as she runs in-store tasting events and engages with customers on a daily basis in order to make sure their shopping experience is tip-top.
She says: “When a customer comes into the shop and they’re looking for a gift or they want something special … trying to match the customer with the right bottle of wine for them … I love that process. Especially when they come back and say, ‘oh, I loved it, thank you’, it’s a real sense of achievement and I enjoy exceeding the customers’ expectations.
“There’s so much to learn and I’d really like to continue my educational journey and do WSET Level 3 in September. It’s about getting that balance, though – you don’t want to bombard people with information about soil types and things if all they really want is a nice bottle of red to go with their lamb. You have to know your audience.”
Lisa wins a bottle of Robert Oatley Limited Release Barossa Shiraz 2018, courtesy of Hatch Mansfield
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