Fern McCoy – Tasting sweet success

Hello! I’m Fern. I am the founder of Mockingbird Spirit. 

I’ve got a background in events, marketing and latterly the drinks industry but last year I became a first-time founder when I created an alcohol-free tequila alternative called Mockingbird Spirit. 

As sad as it sounds, the first thing I do every morning is grab a coffee and my laptop and go through my emails. In my defense though, I do not have emails on my phone. This was a conscious decision to help manage my time and as an act of self-care. PSA: don’t email me if it an emergency 😉 The rest of my day is pretty unpredictable usually, but it’ll be a mixture of packing up orders and organising couriers/ logistics, popping onto a few zoom calls (but not too many), keeping on top of any digital activations which are running but always making time for lunch and a walk in the middle of the day. 

I absolutely adore the drinks industry and its diverse offering of roles. My previous job before starting Mockingbird was within the alcohol sector though and it didn’t 100% align with my personal life so I decided I wanted to venture into the low/no area…and haven’t looked back. 

My drive to succeed comes from the desire to be independent

Starting a business during a pandemic had its own set of unique challenges but even without the pandemic it wouldn’t have been smooth sailing I’m sure. The challenges range from being a first-time founder and having to learn a lot of stuff ‘on the job’ as well as being <30 years old and sometimes feeling as though as I wasn’t being taken seriously… and also the super boring (but ever present) ones like the financial struggles I faced being completely self-funded and putting my savings on the line for this. 

Overcoming any of the setbacks I experienced was difficult and tough on me, but I had to make sure I didn’t take anything too personally. Reminding myself it’s all just ‘business’ and not so much an attack on me, as much as that’s how it felt sometimes. I’m really tuned into the gender equality movement we are going through and also bringing more diversity to the drinks business.

My drive to succeed comes from the desire to be independent, to have control over my destiny and to hopefully one day be in the position to help others to do the same. 

The best thing about being a female in my role is connecting with other females in a similar space to me and sharing experiences and learning together to navigate this crazy game of life. 

My biggest achievement in life is maybe a little bit predictable but definitely launching my first drink, despite everything that got in my way. There’s a real sense of achievement when you see something through from ‘pie in the sky’ to actually physically in your hands. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it exactly, maybe just pure, unadulterated grit. 

Progress, not perfection

The biggest lesson I learnt along the way would be, Do. Not. Give. Up. If it’s really something you NEED to do for your soul, for a cause greater than yourself or something that would make you happier then try and push through those pain barriers, even though they may seem impossible. If it’s something that that’s meant to be, you’ll get there, it won’t be easy some (most?!) of the time, but from my experience; the juice is worth the squeeze!

Outside of work, my favourite hobbies are laying in bed and reading magazines is my ultimate luxurious form of chilling but if I want to get out about and just let my hair down, I love dinner/ drinks/ shopping and – dare I say – socialising! (in accordance to government guidelines obvs, lol!)

The mantra I live my life by is progress, not perfection.

The three tips I would give to young females starting their careers would be:

1. Do not compare yourself to anyone or anything else. 

2. Remember to have fun with it.

3. Whatever you think it’ll cost, triple it.

The best bit of advice I have ever been given would be that worrying is the equivalent of praying for the worst to happen. Let that sink in. 

My key motivators are a generous glug of autonomy; to act on my own values and interests. A little twist of living a meaningful and enriching life. Topped with the room to have some merrymaking along the way. 

Let them underestimate you

My advice for women aiming for leadership positions would be that It’ll likely be twice as hard, but the success will taste twice as sweet. 

A key leadership lesson I’ve learned along the way would be being yourself is always better than acting a certain way because you think you’re ‘meant’ to. It’s more important to be able to look back and know you were always true to yourself, whichever way the cookie crumbled. 

The best piece of advice I’ve been given would be what other people think of you is none of your business. 

What I would say to my 16-year-old self: Let them underestimate you, but don’t let them hold you back.  

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