A woman in a bright green suit jacket standing against a wall with a pink mural
Tuesday, 2 April 2024

In the latest instalment of our Alumni Spotlight series, we speak to Alice Carroll, Kemmy Business School graduate and Co-Founder of Foxes Bow Whiskey.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Alice Carroll, originally from Limerick but now living in Austin, Texas. I’m the co-founder of Foxes Bow Irish Whiskey which launched in Ireland at the end of 2021, and which we’ve just launched in the US.

What course did you study, and what year did you graduate?
I studied Business with French in UL, graduating in 2014.

Why did you choose to study at UL?
I chose to study at UL for two main reasons. The first reason was the facilities. I remember visiting the KBS and being blown away by the fact that it had its own demo trading room; I just thought it was the coolest thing, to learn by doing – not just by being told.

The second reason was for the work placement (Co-op) opportunity UL offered in third year. The chance to get real life experience and implement everything I had learned before even finishing college was a real draw, and absolutely stood to me after I finished college and started looking for employment.

Co-op afforded me the opportunity to do an internship with Fendi in New York in my third year. At the time, I was sure I wanted to do PR in the fashion industry, so I literally applied to every posting I could find in NYC, contacting everyone I knew until I finally secured a position. In hindsight, even that alone was such a good lesson in the power of networking and persistence.

The experience was incredible - I was really thrown in at the deep end and as a result, learned so much so quickly. It did make me realise that Fashion PR was not for me, but I made memories and connections for life. It was genuinely an incredible opportunity - not only to gain experience, but to be able to try a career route and course correct before even leaving college. And it has absolutely stood to me in my career.

What were the highlights of your course?
My favourite aspects of my course were the project work, and the fact that real companies would come in looking for marketing and branding solutions. It made the course material so much more interesting to have a chance to get to apply it to a real business with a real marketing challenge.

For a relatively large college, I also loved how accessible and approachable the lecturers were. They were also there to bounce an idea or question off and were genuinely invested in getting the best out of each of their students.

What advice would you offer to students considering studying at UL?
The advice I’d offer to students considering studying at UL is to absolutely go for it! At UL, there’s a real sense of community that shines through both in terms of the amazing social life offered there, but also academically. The course work really encourages networking and connecting with other students in a really collaborative way, so you get to meet and work with people from all over the world.

I remember at one stage I was working on a project with students from China, Ireland and France; it brought such an interesting dynamic to the project, and really made me appreciate diversity of thought from a young age – that has really benefited me throughout my career after college.

Were you a member of any clubs or societies while at UL? If so, what was your experience like?
I was a member of the Marketing Society during college, and I honestly loved it! Because the marketing class was relatively big, it gave me a chance to get to know my classmates a lot better, and that has stood to me after college. In fact, I frequently reach out to former classmates on work-related projects these days.

As part of the society, we were invited to visit a couple of different companies, including Google, so it gave us a great insight into how marketing departments in companies really operated and the type of skill sets and experience they look for when hiring.

What advice would you offer to students considering studying your course?
I would say in general; Business at UL is an unreal course in terms of variety. I knew I wanted to do business in some capacity, but when I was applying for college, I wasn’t 100% sure what area of business I wanted to pursue. With this course, in first year there is an opportunity to try different areas of business to see what you gravitate towards, before specialising in second year and beyond.

Getting the opportunity to actually try different subjects made it much easier for me to understand what I liked as much as what I didn’t.

What are some of your favourite memories from your time at UL?
Even though in UL you’re definitely held to a high standard, because the staff there really want individuals to perform as best they can, it’s definitely not all work and no play.

Most of my best memories happened outside of the classrooms, grabbing a hot chicken roll, and sitting out on the lawns during warm summer days, or grabbing a pint in the Stables before catching a gig during RAG week. That’s one thing I love - there’s a real sense of craic and community at UL.

At UL, we’re known as the ‘Home of Firsts’ – are there any important ‘firsts’ you experienced as a UL student that you would like to share?
Even though I’m from Limerick, I insisted on moving out of home and in with friends while attending UL so I could get the ‘full college experience’ (read: dropping my clothes off at my parents every Friday and stealing food for the week).

I moved in near the campus and it was another learning curve but such a great experience. It was the first time post-secondary school that I really felt independent and self-sufficient (ish). But it was really brilliant. Castletroy and the surrounding area feels very much like a college town. There are loads of things to do on and near the campus, so it’s a great spot in general.

Another first was that I got into fitness classes for the first time properly in UL at the Arena. I tried everything from pilates to spinning, to Richie Clifford’s aerobics (a quick Google shows me he’s still going - what a mad ball of energy!!).

Are there any campus locations that hold special significant to you?
Because I did Business with French, I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time in the Languages Building, and what a gem of a building that is! Tucked away where you’d nearly miss it, but filled with amazing resources like international cinema, library and audio library. It was a great space to immerse yourself in another language, another culture as well as meet new people from other courses and countries. I LOVED it!

One thing I loved about the UL campus is that you have access to all the buildings, and most of them either have somewhere to grab a coffee or to work from. I know that might sound inconsequential, but I’m definitely someone who feeds off their surroundings.

So, if I spend too much time in one spot, I lose focus. I’d often potter across the Living Bridge to grab some fresh area, over to the stunning Irish World Academy of Music and Dance building or the Pavillion to grab a coffee and a spot to work from.

How did your course and your overall UL experience prepare you for entering the workplace upon graduating?
Between the Co-op experience and the real-client projects, my UL experience prepared me really well for entering the workplace upon graduating. I think sometimes with education can favour a certain type of learner, someone who can sit down and memorize things.

And while that’s great for written exams, it doesn’t help when you enter the real world and don’t know how to apply what you’ve learned in practice. The University of Limerick isn’t structured that way at all.

As you learn and study theory, lecturers ensure you truly understand it and know how to apply it by regularly inviting real life entrepreneurs or companies to present - so you can see the theory in practice and fully grasp the concepts. And both Co-op and project work bring that to the next level whereby you have a chance to implement what you’ve learned, in a safe, learning environment that allows you to test, make mistakes and learn so that you’re confident of your ability to execute once you’ve graduated and are working in the real world.

In my experience too, this is recognised by Irish employers, who really hold UL graduates in high regard. Especially graduate programmes!

Could you update us on where you are now in your career?
Upon graduating, I secured a place on the highly coveted Jameson Whiskey Graduate programme, where I worked for a year in France as a brand ambassador before relocating with Jameson’s parent company, Pernod-Ricard, over to Toronto, Canada. There, I spent six years working in different functions of the business across the sales, trade marketing and brand marketing teams.

Just before the pandemic, I relocated to Ireland and worked with a PR agency in Dublin, working on Diageo’s whiskey brands and Guinness as part of their cultural marketing team. It was during this time I connected with an old neighbour of mine (and another UL alum) to explore, and ultimately co-found a project that would come to be Foxes Bow Irish Whiskey, which we trial launched in Ireland at the end of 2021.

Since then, we’ve secured national listings with SuperValu, Tesco and more in Ireland, began exporting to the UK, Germany and the US (and soon South Africa), won Gold at the Irish Whiskey Awards, Irish Design Awards and Belfast Whiskey Week. We also raised over €1M in investment, which was a whole new experience for me and definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone - but that’s where the magic happens, as they say!

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

My hopes and plans for the future are to continue the great growth trajectory that we’re on with Foxes Bow Whiskey, particularly in the US. I’ve recently relocated to Austin, Texas because our business is growing so quickly there, with over 100 stores stocking us already, and growing! So a core focus for us is making sure we’re seizing the US opportunity. 

With our brand, we plan to keep shaking up the traditional, outdated codes of whiskey to make it more accessible to anyone that wants to drink it. One element of growing the business that I’ve really enjoyed since we started is getting to collaborate with so many amazing Irish creatives and producers, so that’s something I’m eager to keep doing over the coming years. We’re excited to explore new product innovation, from interesting flavour profiles to innovative packaging solutions. The possibilities are endless!