Hi Noella, Laura, Kareen, Caroline & Briget – it’s so great to meet you. I’m a big fan of Étän…so tell me.
What’s in a name? Why Étän?
That’s a very good question. EVERYTHING! Uniqueness, memorability, significance and meaning. Étän we believe does just this, with the nod to our parents’ dialect – Mungaka. Mungaka is spoken in Bali-Nyonga in the Northwest province of Cameroon where Étän means ‘five’. This represents the five of us and the five botanicals we use in every bottle – and ultimately it will be our legacy.
I’ve heard that rum is the next big spirit & is giving gin a run for its money…and Étän, like gin has several botanicals. As a confirmed gin gal, why should I convert to rum?
The versatility that rum has is the only reason you need to convert. Étän is smooth, spicy and not too sweet, therefore enjoyable as a sipping rum. But it’s versatility lends it to many cocktails and the botanicals add several dimensions to favourite cocktails. One of our favourites is the Bali iced tea and although encompassing 4 spirits, Étän holds its own, with the ginger and fevergrass really pushing through and adding that extra little oomph!
You bravely launched during the lockdown, but this hasn’t affected your success with Simon Rimmer describing Étän as “terrifyingly delicious” what has been your biggest lesson in 2020?
This has been a new venture for all of us as business women and we think the biggest lesson for sure has been ‘expect the unexpected’, ensuring we have a plan B, C, D and even E! Basically, always make sure your contingency has a contingency.
We’ve encountered many setbacks which we have overcome but the lessons learnt have been immense. Also going with our gut and not second-guessing ourselves has been something we didn’t do before which we are doing now. We would say to any new start up: Before you quit, remember why you started.
As 5 sisters who are professionals in their own right. What was the driving force to launch Étän?
We really enjoying socialising together and having a good drink. Growing up, our parents always hosted the grandest parties and no one’s glass was ever empty.
With this in mind we thought that, given alcohol was a mutual passion (drinking responsibly, obviously) we could create something together.
We did initially consider gin given the ease in creating gin, but realised the market was saturated. On speaking with our mother, she talked about the family’s sugar cane plantation in Cameroon.
With the cogs ticking, the seed was planted and it was a no-brainer that rum was the way to go. And here we are.
While we are currently importing our base rum from the Caribbean, we hope in future to distil our own rum using the family’s sugar cane. That is the plan.
As highly successful WOC, what is the best advice you can give to other female run start-ups?
Work as collaboratively as you can and ensure you have common goals and aspirations. It’s hard to put your personal opinions to one side at times, but it is so important to recognise when there is a better idea offered which ultimately is best, not just for that individual but for the business as a whole.
And most importantly hold one another up – real queens fix each other’s crowns!
With Christmas & NYE on the horizon, what is your go to rum cocktail? Asking for a friend 😉
We’ve been playing with a few ideas recently and have recently created the Hot ApplÉTÄN!- a cosy apple toddy. This hot cocktail is here to keep you warm during the Christmas season:
- 75ml ÉTÄN rum
- 50ml Apricot Brandy Liqueur
- 175ml cloudy Apple juice
- Half teaspoon honey
- 2 shakes cinnamon
Put all the liquids and honey in a saucepan and bring to boil, pour into glass and dust with the cinnamon. Enjoy!
You can check out the recipe section of our website for more inspiration.
What does a typical day in the life of the Fosang sisters look like?
Haha, we’re not sure there is such a thing but we would say collectively our days start from 6am involve six kids, four partners, five full-time jobs, several meetings, evening Zoom calls, workouts and a whole heap of rum, ending at around 1am!
It’s hectic, but we love our lives and the support we provide each other as sisters and business partners ensures we can keep going
Cameroon is not world famous for its rum, but is very much at the heart of Étän, is it your hope to incorporate the sugar from your family plantation into Étän?
Yes, we hope to one day be able to open our own distillery which will use the sugar cane grown on the family’s plantation in Cameroon to create a range of rums, including one we’ll call Cameroon’s British-inspired spiced rum.
It’s safe to say, you’ve been inspirational to many this year, but who or what inspires you?
Inspiration for us has taken many forms. Firstly, our mother, a strong black woman, who is our queen, continuously inspires us in the way she leads her life, her work ethic and her fierce independence. Best of all, her never ending love and support keeps our ambition alive and drives us forward to aim high.
Secondly, our late father, who was a fun-loving, gregarious character, always had a knack for business and owned several businesses in Cameroon. He travelled around Europe and South-East Asia, always looking for the next opportunity, instilling in us that hard work was always rewarded.
Together they always encouraged us to be the best versions of ourselves and that old cliché ‘ the sky’s the limit’. They have been instrumental in forging our sisterhood, in which we motivate, elevate and celebrate one another and without this there could be no Étän!
Thank you so much!