The founder of drinks industry PR agency The Story has died, aged 46.
Ailana Kamelmacher passed away at Guy’s Hospital on October 30, surrounded by her family, following a three-month battle with cancer.
Her family have shared the following obituary:
Ailana was adored as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and colleague. She will be missed for her wit, strength of character, warmth and huge sense of fun. In both her professional and personal life she was, above all, a great champion of other people – one who forged countless friendships and enhanced the lives of everyone she knew.
As founder of The Story, she was instrumental in building the reputation of pioneering food and drinks companies including Sipsmith and Tony’s Chocolonely. She also helped bring Scotch whisky to new audiences through original campaigns for some of Diageo’s most prestigious malts and blends. Her work was always characterised by a strong streak of social conscience – a legacy from her time as head of PR for Innocent Drinks.
In 2020, with her sister Hannah Glasson, she launched the CBD drinks brand Intune – a product that embodied her thirst for innovation and new ideas.
It was during her time studying Classics at Trinity College, Cambridge that her love of food and drink was ignited – she was always proud to be remembered as the founder of the Trinity Cheese & Wine Society. Ailana was at her happiest when bringing people together over good food and drink.
Gillian Cook, global head of culture, Reserve, Diageo, said: “Ailana left a legacy in the world of Scotch whisky. Hers was a history of beautiful storytelling, fresh ideas, and genuine friendships that spanned across almost fifteen years. She possessed a deep appreciation for the intricate craftsmanship of whisky, a profound love for the people and places within this world, and an unwavering commitment to sharing their stories with audiences near and far. In her time working with Diageo she interacted with people from all walks of the business, from distillers and blenders to coopers and coppersmiths, marketeers to senior executives, and always made a positive and lasting impact.
“As a business partner, Ailana was an inspiration. Her infectious optimism was a force of nature, and she consistently held a deep belief in the magic she aspired to create for others. Her unique style influenced brand experiences worldwide from Talisker to Lagavulin, and Mortlach to the Special Releases Collections to name but a few – the impact Ailana had was immeasurable through her creative spirit, unquenchable curiosity, and unwavering faith in the extraordinary. She was truly beloved by all who had the privilege of knowing her and will be remembered for the contribution she made to our Scotch whisky business, and more importantly for the person she was.”
Sam Galsworthy, Sipsmith founder, said: “A wonderful family have lost a loved one in Ailana, countless folk a friend and the industry – drinks and marketing – a beacon of positivity, creativity, endless joy and warmth. To our team she meant so much as a result of her gentle brilliance and for many was a true mentor – she had a profound impact on our brand and our lives. I have lost a dear and wise friend who I will celebrate for my remaining days and I will forever hold that calming voice in my ear, which has guided me and so many others. Humankind as special as this never leave us, even after they have gone.”
Alice Lascelles, drinks journalist added: “Ailana was a true original – funny, kind, inquisitive, brave, fearsomely smart, unfailingly generous and the most perfect cocktail companion one could possibly imagine. I will miss her more than words can say.”
The Story continues to be run by Alex Smith as managing director and Tarita Mullings as director. Hannah Glasson will remain CEO of Intune.
Ailana is survived by her husband Robin, two children Zhenya and Gilby, her mother Margarita and her sisters Olga and Hannah.
Tributes, stories and photos may be emailed to email@example.com. Please also use this email address to contact Ailana’s family if you would like to attend her funeral. Postal tributes can be sent to The Story Unit B, 11 Bell Yard Mews, London SE1 3TN. Ailana’s family asks for donations to Cancer Research UK here www.justgiving.com/page/hannah-glasson-1699480228959.