The Big Interview: Becky Keane of Nirvana Brewery

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Big Interview: The Morning Advertiser talks brewing success with Becky Keane of Nirvana Brewery
Big Interview: The Morning Advertiser talks brewing success with Becky Keane of Nirvana Brewery

Related tags Low to no Beer Brewing

The Morning Advertiser caught up with Nirvana Brewery co-founder Becky Keane to discuss the key to confidence, brewing success and championing women working in beer.

Having worked in leadership roles within the industry since 2016, Keane is no stranger to making tough decisions, but being confident in her own “decision making” and “abilities” has been one of the biggest battles she has faced.

“Everybody has their own approach and it's about having the confidence that you know just as much about what you're doing as the next person,” she says.

“Having low confidence can really hit you hard, but it's not as easy as saying, ‘I'll just be confident then’, it does take time. You’ve got to keep championing and being kind to yourself.

“Sometimes you need to look back to remind yourself of your own successes and not let that voice in your head tell you don't know what you're doing, keep reassuring yourself and reminding yourself of what you've achieved.”

In addition, she notes not having confidence in yourself can be the difference between your business “falling apart” or coming together.

While Keane has conquered confidence, she adds accepting things “are never as quick as you want them to be”, has also taken time and required perseverance.

Success stories 

“When we first started out, we hoped to reach our business goals within three to five years and be a huge success quickly.

“The biggest challenge is realising things take a lot longer than you might expect but you must keep at it”.

Reflecting on her time in the sector, Keane says while it has been “full of challenges”, each mistake presented an opportunity to “learn so much” from and that it’s “unrealistic” to experience success without any challenges.

“It's easy once you've been through a lot of stuff to then say ‘it's all worth it because I've learned all these lessons’, but when you're going through it, it doesn't really help.

“Keeping that perspective when things are going wrong and keeping a mental note about what you're learning from each challenge, even if you don't get the outcome you want, is helpful to [better] understand where you're trying to get to".

Though being "aware of what you learn from each failure is not going to be easy", Keane added, but accepting that will "make you better and stronger person overall".
“The biggest success stories still have thousands of failures along the way. The failure aspect helps you be successful, so celebrate your failures just as much as your success.”

Understanding “we are all only human” and accepting mistakes will happen also helps alleviate some pressure for Keane, who cited most of the pressures from her role as “not wanting to let people down”.

“That's been quite a crucial skill I've had to develop over the years is keeping things in perspective.
“When you're in it day-to-day, it's very easy to think you're going to be letting lots of people down if something goes wrong or goes out of stock.

“These problems can seem like the consequences are huge, but if you take a step back on a regular basis to get perspective, you’re reminded they're not as big as they might seem and happen in all walks of life; you're not alone.”

Keane has also used her voice in what is mostly a male-dominated environment to be an advocate for shining a light on the “amazing” work done by other women in the no and low space.

While her experience in the industry as a woman had been “overwhelmingly positive”, the co-founder urges “more can be done to showcase women within the sector” as not everybody is so “lucky”.

She explains: “There are a fair number of women in the no and low part of the market. I've been very lucky to meet lots of aspiring women who do groundbreaking things in no and low.

“I’m still entering a new stage of family life, so I'm still working that out, but work-life balance is important."

“No and low has always been about inclusivity. Not just inclusivity of non-drinkers but of all different types of people, genders, race, etc, and by nature that inclusivity spreads.

“It goes hand in hand because that's what we're about, being open minded and inclusive. Perhaps that's why it feels more natural in the no low space.

“However, it's sometimes harder as a woman to put yourself in the limelight and shout about your successes.

“But the more we celebrate and see women championing their own and other women’s success, [hopefully] we will become less shy to shout about their own successes.”

When it comes to work life balance, Keane, who recently welcomed her first child, says she tries to treat her personal and work life as “one and the same”.

For example, Keane explains she was “active” at organising things in her social life and this, alongside being a motivated and understanding person, goes “hand in hand” with leadership roles.

“I'm a very sociable person. Coming from a big family, I'm used to having lots of people around, I’m one of six siblings. I love being with people and organising social activities.

“I also enjoy talking to people about their careers and their own personal development, hearing their stories and ambition is a big part of what interests me.
“I’m an ambitious career person myself, but I really love to see that in other people and help them, which also bleeds into my work.

“I like to take an interest in my own team, what drives them and where they want to go so I can try to help them develop their skills and achieve those ambitions.”

However, Keane adds making sure you have to right people around you is key and that running a business is a “team effort” and not “reliant on one person”.

Keane pictured alongside Nirvana's limited edition Heaven vs Hell case

“I’m still entering a new stage of family life, so I'm still working that out, but work-life balance is important.

“There’s never a good time to start a family, especially if you're running your own business, but you can continue your career.
“It is hard to not let running a business bleed into your personal life. It's easy to think of your work life and personal life as two separate things, but they are one in the same and enjoying your work is a big part of having that balance.

Steep learning curve 

“But I wouldn't be able to do it without the team and without a group of people who are also committed to the business; having that has allowed me space to have a family as well as prioritise other areas of my life.”

The brewer also details how being in a position of leadership can often be “very lonely”, making finding the right team imperative.

“It's been a steep learning curve; I'm always looking for people to help me make decisions.

“Nobody really wants to make the big decisions and the difficult decisions so you are being quite brave in making decisions even if you don't know if it's the right one.
“That's kind of what's required of you and it's a skill that can be learned and developed over time.

“Over the years we've got a board in place, and I've got senior management who are supporting me and that's really the number one thing that helps feelings of loneliness, knowing we're in it together whether things go right or wrong.

“It's not easy to find the right people to surround yourself with and not everybody sticks around, but when you find a good team who are in it with you, that makes a world of difference. I've been lucky enough that I've found a really good team.”

Keane also describes finding such a strong team as one of the company’s biggest successes since its inception in 2016, as well as securing £750,000 in funding last year, adding 2023 was full of career highlights.

“I was also featured in the Management Today 35 under 35​ awards, which was a really nice achievement.
“We’ve had our best year ever [in 2023] and have put in place a really good senior management team as well as having the success and the investments, but I'm still very excited about what's to come and what the next few years hold.”

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