Danielle Schoeman

D distillery PT Ltd T/A Doña Distillery

What does your company do?

We are a 100% woman owned and operated distillery in Cape town manufacturing Whisky, Tequila and non alcoholic spirits. We do product development, manufacturing and final packaging of spirits. We have won multiple international awards and export our products all over the world. We are proud to produce South African spirits inspired by SA flavours. Each brand that we are involved in embodies the values and aspirations of our team. Its success translates into opportunities, driving our relentless pursuit. our motivation stems from empowering our team and representing something beyond a mere product. Our products stand as an inspiration, illustrating the triumph over obstacles in pursuit of goals, particularly in the context of South Africa.

What is your biggest success?

My biggest successes so far has been launching a South African whisky that focuses on woman as our target market and breaking the ideas of what a traditional Whisky consumer should look like. I was also chosen to take part in the global whisky mentorship programme with the most influential people in Whisky, this came as a feather in my cap after being completely self taught in the craft of distilling. On a personal note i feel immense gratitude when young woman reach out to me asking about mentorship and advice on how to enter and navigate the the spirit industry. More woman should be included at a grass roots level on all facets of the spirit industry - from production to blending and marketing.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

As an business owner, entrepreneur and South African we all face some of the same challenges such as Covid and loadshedding, but we have to find innovative ways of surviving, pivoting our businesses and learning from previous mistakes. My current biggest hurdle is raising capital. Despite research showing that female founders outperform their male peers, startups with a solo female founder or an all-female founding team raised a mere 2% of all the funding in Africa in 2023. Navigating the process has been immensely challenging (and still is) with very little roadmap on where to start and how to execute the project. On a personal note, i would say that i have struggles with imposter syndrome where I question whether I am capable, especially in the spirit manufacturing business which is mainly a male dominated field. I felt that i constantly had to prove my skills and knowledge of the industry.