This year has brought many unexpected developments and a completely new perspective on how we live and what we value. In the midst of all this change, many exciting new brands and designers have emerged, driven by a new creative energy and the freedom of a little extra time. The creators of Lockdown Liquor & Co., a pre-mixed cocktail company launched in April 2020, are one such brand; we sit down with founders Natasha and Jack to discuss their exciting first year in production.
1. Firstly, please tell us more about who you are and about your company.
Natasha is the Founder and CEO of Total Management Group which is a leading Events, Travel and Design agency and Co-founder of Lockdown Liquor & Co. Jack retired from Professional Rugby in 2011 and then joined as a Director of Total Management Group and recently co-founded Lockdown Liquor & Co.
Lockdown Liquor & Co. was born out of the pandemic, with philanthropic roots. We are a premium premixed cocktail company, crafted by expert mixologists, using the best quality ingredients, creating unique blends and not compromising on the flavour, resulting in cocktails that speak for themselves.
2. You clearly made the most of this year’s lockdown; what was it like starting a new business in the middle of a pandemic?
Lockdown Liquor didn’t start originally as a business idea, we really just wanted to bring some positivity to what was a pretty negative situation. Everyone at that stage was at home with all social interaction conducted over Zoom calls, and a cloud of uncertainty of how long this was going to be the norm. When interest and demand grew, we decided to turn the focus into an initiative to assist with raising awareness and funds for the NHS Charities Together. The speed of growth was quite overwhelming, alongside our other business Total Management Group and home-schooling three children, it certainly challenged us. At this stage, we realised that there was obvious potential and something that had a huge opportunity, which confirmed the incorporation of Lockdown Liquor as a company. We were very lucky to have a solid infrastructure and seasoned team within Total Management Group that we could lean on, which helped us lay the foundations of Lockdown Liquor and keep up with the pace of how quickly things were moving. We did encounter some small issues, mainly with obtaining the large amounts of ingredients and alcohol required to keep up with demand and the sheer volume of sales, especially at that time where deliveries were heavily affected by the restrictions of COVID.
3. Your business philosophy focuses on bringing joy to your customers at home during lockdown moments; what do you feel that you have learned from your time at home over the last few months?
Personally, we love to be office-based and having that separation between home and work life, however, one thing that we learnt was that we are never going to get this time again where everyone globally has had to take a moment and slow down. We have three small children, so we really enjoyed spending some quality time with them as well as taking time out to really see what is important in life and what we want to achieve. Launching the company from home also meant our children were with us on the journey, including taking the delivery of thousands of bottles to fill and the kitchen being piled floor to ceiling with boxes of limes.
4. Is there anything from your shared career experiences that helped you along the way?
I think for us, we have a good track record of growing a business at speed, so the business knowledge was always there, and we have always worked really well together with Tash focusing on financials and growth, whilst Jack concentrated on the branding and operations. One thing that is vital and something without experience we may not have done, is to learn to make those key hires early, take all the advice that you can get and learn as much as you can about the sector. We entered into a field that we didn’t know well, so we knew we had to surround ourselves with key people who did know the space and they gave us some crucial advice. We were exceptionally lucky to be introduced to some of the leading people within the sector who got behind us and gave us some key pointers early on.
5. Are there any designers or creative business owners that have inspired your aesthetic?
Not in a direct way, however, we are constantly inspired by business owners and creatives in all types of industries. Jack is inspired constantly by design in all manners, from typography, graphic design to architecture, interior design and furniture makers. He also set up the studio division within Total Management Group which assisted with the branding of Lockdown Liquor. We wanted to keep the look and feel of the brand simplistic, with a subtle premium quality. Hopefully, we have achieved that with the colour scheme, refined fonts and glassware used.
6. Do you have a particular work process?
For us our we keep our work process very simple and don’t try and overcomplicate it, we set out very clear KPIs dictated by our growth plan and assign the relevant teams to best achieve this. The team currently is relatively small, but we have really tight processes in place to make sure we are as efficient as possible to ensure we deliver. You are always going to receive curveballs, especially in a sector that you are new to, however, these are dealt with a lot easier with processes in place and a team that is committed to getting the job done. We have an exceptional Managing Director and Financial Director with extensive experience that were willing to pivot with us and assist with pushing things forward, which obviously was a huge help and not something all start-ups are lucky enough to have.
7. What has changed for you the most since launching the company?
It has certainly increased our workloads for a start! We do juggle many balls and constantly try to improve things. The importance of time management, delegation and prioritising tasks, especially now we have two companies, has become crucial. This process and launching Lockdown Liquor have certainly inspired us on what is achievable in what has been a short space of time and that anything is possible. When the company launched, the main thing that hit both of us was the tremendous feeling of community spirit with the suppliers we were working with, which stemmed from the period of time we were in, but something that we had not experienced to that level before in business. Also, how something quite small can actually make a difference in people’s lives, we had so many customers message us to say thank you for bringing them a bit of joy. We were also lucky enough to give people jobs during this time which was so important to us, plus we had so many people step forward and offer help in so many different ways.
8. The Conran Shop is delighted to offer your products; which of our products is your favourite, and why?
Tough question, as we like a lot of your products. I (Jack) have a shopping problem with chairs, our house is full of them due to this. Anything from all of the mid-century masters, in particular, Hans J. Wegner is extremely hard not to love. More recently I have really appreciated the importance of lighting; this Gubi Floor Lamp is the essence of timeless sophistication in my eyes.
9. Which of your pre-mixed cocktails is your favourite, and why?
It would have to be the Picante, our founding bottled cocktail. This comes from our love of tequila that stemmed from our time spent in California and Mexico, where we were introduced to all forms of tequila and tequila-based cocktails. It is our twist on a Tommy’s Margarita with a hit of spice which we came across during our time in Baja California, where we became friends with a local restaurateur (Enrique Silva) who owned an aptly named restaurant, Tequila.
10. Lastly, what does the future hold for Lockdown Liquor & Co.? Have you any new blends on the horizon?
We are always coming up with new blends and we are working on our no-lo alcohol mixes, and we have a few exciting things to launch over the coming months, so watch this space…