When Tegan Clemow entered the liquor retail industry around four and a half years ago, she was looking for a different and fun career change.
Without much experience in liquor professionally or personally, she counts herself lucky that Shane Madden of Retail Liquor Specialists Group saw her potential and gave her a foot in the door in the industry at one of the group’s Cellarbrations stores in the ACT.
After working her way up from here, Clemow is now ACT area manager for the group, with stores in Gold Creek, Braddon and Belconnen. Over this time, her passion for the industry has only grown, and with it, so too has her success, being named as the 2021 Young Liquor Retailer of the Year at the recent Retail Drinks Industry Awards.
Clemow has gotten close to the award ever since she entered the industry. The first time she applied was in the LSA NSW awards six months after she got the job at Retail Liquor Specialists Group, where she also became a finalist.
“Finally winning it on my fourth try, I was absolutely stoked and so proud,” Clemow told National Liquor News.
“But it’s not my achievement alone, because without the support of my team members and my customers here, and my family at home as well as the support of Shane, Tanya, Steven and Mel, [the owners of Retail Liquor Specialists Group], I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.”
Reflecting on what pushed her over the line to win the award this year, Clemow said she believes her increased experience with identifying future leaders of the industry has played a big part. It’s all linked to her retail philosophy, based in the value of good staff and teamwork.
“Over the last six months in particular I’ve been key in overseeing staff for all of our stores in Canberra, instead of just one little store, responsible for up to 20 staff not just five staff. I’ve been able to help identify and train future leaders in the industry from where I was two years ago… Being able to identify future leaders and just be part of that process makes me very humble and proud,” Clemow explained.
“For me, [the philosophy] will always be to trust in the staff and be happy with your staff, because without them, you wouldn’t be able to run a store. When I’m working with them, I don’t even consider myself to be a manager, I consider myself to be part of the team. We’re all working together to get to the common goal.”
Some of the strategies that Clemow is utilising with great success are along these same lines of team work. She said she sees great importance in working with the team to find a best way to do something, rather than telling them there’s only one way for it to be done.
“It’s about getting the best person to do the best job at the right time, and always working together to get to that common goal of more satisfied customers and better results for the business,” said Clemow.
Continuing to develop her leadership philosophy and strategies is incredibly important to Clemow, who is currently undertaking a Diploma of Leadership and Management. Being named Young Liquor Retailer of the Year will also open up numerous opportunities for such development, especially considering that Clemow will now be sitting on the Retail Drinks board as an observer for the next year.
What Clemow is most excited to be doing on the board is: “knowing what else happens outside of the store in terms of the more complicated things and the future projects of the industry.
“Being in front of things before they even happen, being involved before the pilot concepts launch, and being able to help come up with new ideas and new directions for the industry [is exciting]. Hopefully I’ll be able to get be a little bit bigger part of that and help direct it in a way that helps the industry grow even further.”
This passion and care for the future of the industry is also why Clemow thinks awards that recognise and give opportunities to young liquor retailers are essential.
“We are the future of the industry… I think it’s important to recognise young retailers, to let people know this is an option. This is a career and doesn’t have to just be a weekend job,” she said.
In terms of advice for other young retailers just starting out in such a career, Clemow has some powerful words of advice.
“Absolutely anything is possible. Where you are now, doesn’t have to be where you’re meant to be. Just because you’re a casual team member now doesn’t mean you couldn’t be the owner of your own business in the future,” Clemow said.
“No matter how big or small, any idea is worth it. If it’s worth a minute in your mind, it’s worth a minute in our time… it can have a ripple effect and expand to become even better.”