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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Agnes Gajic

Business

Craft brewing is burgeoning in South Australia and Agnes Gajic is leading the industry by combining tasty brews and a social conscience.

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As one of Australia’s youngest head brewers, Agnes (Agi) Gajic is responsible for all aspects of production and operational duties involved in The Sparkke Change Beverage Company—an independent, locally-owned and operated brewery that produces award-winning 100 per cent natural brews.

The Sparkke Change part-owner first developed a taste for brewing commercially in 2013 when she started working at Gage Roads Brewery in her hometown Fremantle, Western Australia. She then spent almost four years brewing at Young Henry’s in Newtown in Sydney and co-created the Beer Creative for home brewers.

After moving to Adelaide three years later, the then 28-year-old began work on the Sparkke revolution to disrupt the country’s $4.3 billion beer industry, which Gajic says lacks equality, inclusivity and diversity.

Gajic says her philosophy is to call out unfairness, discrimination or bigotry when she sees it, and lend a helping hand to friends, co-workers, neighbours and strangers where she can—a philosophy that extends into The Sparkke Change Beverage Company.

Today, four per cent of channel sales and 10 per cent of direct sales go straight to their cause partners including Mums 4 Refugees, Her Words and AYCC. The company has some pretty bold messaging on their cans with the intention to raise awareness and ultimately ‘Sparkke Change’ around social and environmental issues.

Gajic was named this month as one of InDaily’s 40 Under 40 – an awards program that recognises the best and brightest young leaders in South Australia.

What is the single most important lesson you have learnt in your business career so far?

Work hard, master your craft, pay attention to detail and understand that you will never know everything there is to know—your learning and development must never lull.

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

For someone in the beer industry, it’s an exciting place and time. The craft beer movement is only a burgeoning one here, nonetheless, extraordinary active. I believe we’re just at the start of our journey with good beer here in SA.

The fact that it generally has been wrongfully considered a boring state by those in more bustling states and territories makes it wonderfully exciting as we begin to truly solidify ourselves on the national map as a bountiful state nestled in between the two seaboards.

I personally enjoy working with premium local producers on such personal levels. South Australia is a community state. Having worked in the industry in several states, personally speaking, I can honestly say that the product quality coming from both suppliers and customers, all of whom are basically my neighbours, who I share meaningful connections with, is unparalleled to that of anywhere I have experienced yet. It’s a special, unique kind of paradise.

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

I believe that SA still has a lot of growing up to do. Personally, I would love to see some veneration of businesses who are less traditional, more accessible to the broader Adelaide/SA community, who push boundaries and aren’t afraid to deviate from the norm, even if it’s weird and uncomfortable. I personally believe Adelaide business needs a shakeup and a progressive growth from its more parochial upbringings.

Do you see your future in South Australia?

Absolutely! I moved here just over two years ago. My hometown is Fremantle, WA and for those acquainted with it, know it’s a damn special place. I always saw my future there but Adelaide has stolen my heart – this is home to me now.

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

 I wasn’t aware we were losing them? Maybe we need to pay more attention to the strong current of busy and exciting energy that’s being created by so many of my peers right before our eyes …

To see the full list of 40 winners, go here.

InDaily is profiling each of the winners – go here to read more.

More about 40 and 40

The 40 Under 40 Awards celebrate the passion, vision and achievements of South Australia’s finest young business people under the age of 40, and the contribution they are making to the future of our state. The annual program recognises not only the personal determination and commercial drive of these future business leaders but also the philanthropic pursuits that balance these individuals’ professional achievements.

An assessment panel representing the South Australian business community judged the nominees against a selection criteria, and identify the 40 young business leaders who have been outstanding in creating or growing a business in South Australia.

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