Shake up your cocktails with Lockdown Liquor

“Jack and I have always enjoyed making cocktails, which we got to practise more during lockdown. So we initially set up an initiative for ourselves.”

Our interview with Natasha and Jack

When the first national lockdown was announced in March 2020, it was an unfamiliar experience for most of us. Staying at home meant finding new ways to keep busy, like having themed Zoom calls with friends, trying new home workouts or taking up baking.

For Natasha and Jack Durling, making cocktails in lockdown started as a fun activity for their friends and family, which turned into a success story that emerged from lockdown. Here's how their business has taken off.

Twill: Where did the idea come from for this business?

Natasha: We were creating premixed cocktails and selling them to friends and family. All proceeds were going to the NHS.

Jack: We set it up just as a bit of fun, bringing a bit of joy to friends and family. It picked up quickly, and we started to get approached by premium independent retailers like Liberty in London, Anthropology, The Conran Store. Lockdown Liquor pivoted to a lot of virtual events and gifting, so we had an influx of B2B business.

Jack and Natasha quickly established that there was a real demand in this sector and little to no high-quality businesses in this space. Lockdown Liquor provided a solution to many hospitality providers forced to reduce the range of options on their menus during the lockdown. Fast forward to now, and Lockdown Liquor is a successful business.

Twill: Have you got plans to continue?

Natasha: We’ve got a clear three-year strategic plan. We want to break into different products and are really enjoying the journey.

Twill: What would you say is the key thing entrepreneurs should know about starting a business and working for themselves?

Natasha: I think people often have great ideas, but they don't have the financial skillset to really understand the plan. Create a three-year plan as part of a broader business strategy. Know where you are now and recognise that your financial plan has to reflect your business strategy.

When starting a business, have some understanding of what the drivers are behind the business and consider your operational costs.

Twill: What challenges did you face at the start of Lockdown Liquor?

Jack: From a business perspective, the main challenge was getting materials and establishing a strong supply chain. We actually overcame some of this struggle by concentrating on using as much local produce and suppliers as possible through freight transportation services. It was a quick learning curve, but as a result, we managed to get the business up and running, and it is only going from strength to strength.

Starting a business is always a learning curve – trialling what works and what doesn’t from experience is a huge part of adapting to your business’ unique needs.

Twill: Do you have any direct competitors at the moment?

Jack: There are a handful, but they do not target the premium alcohol market that Lockdown Liquor targets. Our main focus is on using premium ingredients, which is not something we see from others in that space.

I think the ability to create bespoke blends for customers is a big USP which we can do because our production is in-house.

Twill: Where do you export your products to, and how do you export them?

Natasha: At the moment, we’re using freight transportation services within the UK and we're in the process of establishing a deal with deliveries to Ireland.

In the future, we’d like to look at shipping services to European territories and the US, but with all of the uncertainty still we're waiting to refine our approach.

Jack: We've also not really scratched the surface within the UK. By fulfilling distribution across the country first before we’ll be in a better position to find a global partner to help with international freight shipments and exports.

Twill: Are you going to keep the name ‘Lockdown Liquor’?

Natasha: A lot of people ask us that. The company was born out of lockdown but not divided by it. I think ultimately, the name works. We liked it and it truly defines the origin of the business.

Jack: When we started with the charity aspect and donating profits to NHS charities, it really solidified the philanthropic side of the business. We’re continuing to focus on pandemic-related charities and research companies and the name really recognises that.

Natasha from Lockdown Liquor
Jack from Lockdown Liquor

Twill: Where did the idea come from for this business?

Natasha: We were creating premixed cocktails and selling them to friends and family. All proceeds were going to the NHS.

Jack: We set it up just as a bit of fun, bringing a bit of joy to friends and family. It picked up quickly, and we started to get approached by premium independent retailers like Liberty in London, Anthropology, The Conran Store. Lockdown Liquor pivoted to a lot of virtual events and gifting, so we had an influx of B2B business.

Jack and Natasha quickly established that there was a real demand in this sector and little to no high-quality businesses in this space. Lockdown Liquor provided a solution to many hospitality providers forced to reduce the range of options on their menus during the lockdown. Fast forward to now, and Lockdown Liquor is a successful business.

Twill: Have you got plans to continue?

Natasha: We’ve got a clear three-year strategic plan. We want to break into different products and are really enjoying the journey.

Twill: What would you say is the key thing entrepreneurs should know about starting a business and working for themselves?

Natasha: I think people often have great ideas, but they don't have the financial skillset to really understand the plan. Create a three-year plan as part of a broader business strategy. Know where you are now and recognise that your financial plan has to reflect your business strategy.

When starting a business, have some understanding of what the drivers are behind the business and consider your operational costs.

Twill: What challenges did you face at the start of Lockdown Liquor?

Jack: From a business perspective, the main challenge was getting materials and establishing a strong supply chain. We actually overcame some of this struggle by concentrating on using as much local produce and suppliers as possible through freight shipping services. It was a quick learning curve, but as a result, we managed to get the business up and running, and it is only going from strength to strength.

Starting a business is always a learning curve – trialling what works and what doesn’t from experience is a huge part of adapting to your business’ unique needs.

Top Tips from Natasha & Jack

Twill: Do you have any direct competitors at the moment?

Jack: There are a handful, but they do not target the premium alcohol market that Lockdown Liquor targets. Our main focus is on using premium ingredients, which is not something we see from others in that space.

I think the ability to create bespoke blends for customers is a big USP which we can do because our production is in-house.

Twill: Where do you export your products to, and how do you export them?

Natasha: At the moment, we’re using freight transportation services within the UK and we're in the process of establishing a deal with deliveries to Ireland.

In the future, we’d like to look at shipping services to European territories and the US, but with all of the uncertainty still we're waiting to refine our approach.

Jack: We've also not really scratched the surface within the UK. By fulfilling distribution across the country first before we’ll be in a better position to find a global partner to help with international freight shipments and exports.

Twill: Are you going to keep the name ‘Lockdown Liquor’?

Natasha: A lot of people ask us that. The company was born out of lockdown but not divided by it. I think ultimately, the name works. We liked it and it truly defines the origin of the business.

Jack: When we started with the charity aspect and donating profits to NHS charities, it really solidified the philanthropic side of the business. We’re continuing to focus on pandemic-related charities and research companies and the name really recognises that.

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