Krystal is Campari’s trade advocacy manager and a leading light of the Australian bar scene.
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What does it take to be a brand ambassador?
For a long while before the pandemic kicked off in 2020, it seemed that any bartender looking for a lasting career in the industry would, at some point, think about becoming a brand ambassador.
It seems that has changed. For a start, as long-time ambassador Krystal Hart says on this episode of Drinks At Work, the onset of the pandemic and lockdowns gave a lot of people a reason to rethink hospitality — and not always for the best.
“A lot of people have started to change careers,” she says.
But Krystal also talks about the rewards of the brand ambassador gig — it’s clear that she relishes her role. There’s the travel, for one, and getting to work with bartenders and chefs at the height of their powers. For Krystal, however, it’s more than just fancy drinks and dinners.
“For me, community is really important,“ says Krystal.
Krystal is the national bartender engagement and trade advocacy manager at Campari Australia, and one of the leading lights of the bar scene in this country for over a decade. Before Krystal stepped into the brand advocacy side of the bar business in 2013 with a gig for Diageo’s Reserve Brands portfolio, Krystal worked in some of Brisbane’s best bars at the time: Sling Lounge, The Bowery, and Canvas to name but a few.
Krystal capped her time working with the Diageo portfolio last year, when she finished up as the trade advocacy manager and brand ambassador for World Class off the back of the staging of the World Class global finals in Sydney.
She’s widely respected, super knowledgeable, and engaging to talk to — in this episode we talk about how she went from studying acting to falling in love with hospitality; we talk about what it takes to be a brand ambassador, the character traits that have led her to build the successful career she has, and her advice to anyone thinking of a career in the business.
Below, you’ll find a few of my favourite quotes from the interview, but do give the whole chat a listen — you can get the episode in the player up top, or take a listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get yours.
The Quotable Krystal Hart
“Like an actor to a great audience,” Krystal Hart fell in love with hospitality, she tells us. Krystal studied acting after high school, but fell into hospitality — which seems to be the funnel that brings most of us in — and loved it. One imagines that her acting background put Krystal in good stead when it came to performing behind the bar, in cocktail comps, and when she took on a brand ambassador role.
“If you love travel, this gig is absolutely for you.” We talked a bit about the ambassador life — Krystal’s favourite parts of the job have always been the travel and the opportunity to eat and drink in some of the best establishments both here and abroad.
“It’s an employees’ market.” Krystal also said that it’s getting harder to find great people than it has been in the past, but that if you’ve outfit yourself with knowledge and expertise, you’ll always be able to find yourself an interesting and rewarding role. “There’s lots of desire for expertise,” she says.
“When you see someone that is impassioned, it’s contagious.” What does it take to be a brand ambassador? When Krystal is looking to hire a BA, it’s their passion that stands out most. “You can train everything else,” she says.
“The reality is you do need to build your profile.” If you’re a younger bartender or thinking about a future in the industry, Krystal thinks that first, you need to know what you’re doing. “It’s about getting the fundamentals right,” she says. But once you’ve padded down the essential skills, as you broaden your experience and deepen your knowledge, that’s when you want to start thinking about your profile as a whole. “Your social media profile becomes your resume,” in a way, she says.
There’s one week left to enter the Bombay Sapphire Stir Creativity Cocktail Competition.
I’m looking forward to judging the final of this one in April. There’s a big prize on offer for the winner, starting with cashola: $3,000, a trip to the home of Bombay at Laverstoke Mill in the UK, a pin crafted of the winning cocktail, the cover of Australian Bartender, and the inaugural Bombay Sapphire Stir Creativity Cocktail Competition trophy. To learn more and to enter, visit https://stircreativitycomp.bombaysapphire.com and get your entry in before the comp closes on February 22nd.
The Spirited Awards close for nominations next week
Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards are open for nominations from now until February 22nd. I recently got involved as the volunteer Asia Pacific Co-Chair for the awards, and the thing I’d love to stress to everyone who’ll listen that all it takes to be consider for an award is one nomination. That’s it. Yes, you can nominate yourself — in fact, it’s encouraged that you do. There is no prize for getting more than one nomination.
In my view, Australia hasn’t always done as well in the Spirited Awards as it ought to, and having been a voter in the process for a few years now, I can tell you I’m often surprised at the lack of nominations from Australia. The truth of the matter is, for Australian bars and bartenders to get voted for by the judges, they have to be nominated. If you’re not nominated, you’re nowhere.