If the corona virus has taught us anything, it is that our version of ‘looking after ourselves’ is an endless work in progress. Earlier this year I wrote an article dedicated to the trends of 2020 and so far, many of them seem to have rung true, despite these unprecedented times. What is perhaps the most apparent, is that this lockdown process is bringing out the worst and best in people. And while I cannot sit here and preach lyrical about the importance of looking after yourself daily (mainly due to my wine and chocolate consumption), what I can do is introduce you to a wide variety of brands with products that deserve to storm the market for the remainder of the year.
Following on from the online community I set up two months ago “In The Spirit Of”, this article is dedicated to a number of independent brands all in need of support and I am extremely fortunate that I have had the pleasure of working alongside them.
This is about online communities, supporting one another, making acquaintances friends and competitors allies.
Stay Healthy. Stay Happy. Be Endlessly Kind.
Fronted by Francesco Majno, Cricke are insect-based savoury snacks, outrageously tasty and high in sustainable protein. All their products are enriched with cricket powder – a great, low-impact source of complete protein, vitamins, and minerals. These are made from all-natural ingredients to make unruly tasty, healthy snacks.
All used to working from different cities and remote working, they have adapted to lockdown by focusing all of their efforts onto their online brand presence, creating more social content and developing new partnerships and sales opportunities.
Positives from lockdown? Commuting from bed to office has never been so easy ;). Jokes aside, the situation helped us understand our capacity of turning something unpredictable into an opportunity to grow beyond our expectations. This has pushed us out of our comfort zone and it’s shaping our capacity of adapting. In the last weeks, we have been working hard to strengthen our online presence and we are now seeing the first results. There is a community of small brands, that is every day [growing] stronger, working together to put brilliant solutions in place in order to tackle the current issues.
Advice to others? Strengthen your online presence. Get involved with new initiates and start collaborating.
Personal takeaway? This emergency has shown me how good we are at coping with uncertainty and unpredictable problems that suddenly threat our common future. I hope this will also teach us how we could double our efforts in dealing with other emergencies of our times, like global warming.
Hannah McCollum is the brain-child behind this rather incredible brand. Originally created to bring healthy, colourful dips to the market, Hannah wanted to combine her creative cooking with her relentless eagerness to prevent food waste. The hummus is made from surplus vegetables and comes in four different flavours. The brand has also just introduced veggie bites to its range where it is currently donating 10% of their online orders to Brighter Futures to support staff and patients fighting Covid-19.
ChicP was set up to bring healthy, colourful dips to the food market. A hummus lover, tired of bland and unhealthy options, Hannah decided to combine her creative cooking and eagerness to help prevent food waste, into healthy, punchy vegetable hummus from surplus vegetables. Even better news? The hummus is gluten, dairy, nut and pesticide free.
Positives from lockdown? More online sales and heightened engagement with social media to encourage people to be creative, cook more, use leftovers etc. We have also seen increased online sales and have launched with Daylesford (as their hummus manufacturer was no longer to continue).
Initiatives in place? We have tried to help with food service companies by offering our range for deliveries. What you do for others now during these harder times help mark your legacy. This is also the perfect time to work on social strategies and your brand.
Advice to others? Enjoy the slowdown; pause; reflect; use the time wisely and ride the wave. There’s always an upside so make this a positive time in the best way you can.
Personal takeaway? For me, the world needs to heal. We have not treated it right for too long now and this is a way for nature to come back (a little). I hope that people will really learn from this, slow down, travel less and reduce their consumption with everything. I hope that it makes us all realise that we need less, we can live more simple lives and we can learn to appreciate each other more and care for one another.
Dominic Kristy is the guy behind this rather delicious set of products. Based on the premise that they want to “give fresh fruit the evolutionary kick to stay convenient in the 21st century”. with 50kcals per pack and with absolutely nothing added, these are the ideal snacks for any time of day. Ideal for the whole family, these are a pretty great ‘go-to’ for a healthy sugar rush.
Lockdown positives? We have seven new online marketplaces, including Amazon Prime – along with expanding into two new European countries! Social media has been a gem for understanding how people change their shopping behaviour in response to day to day news. Our job has been to track this and position our products in line with what people need now and in the future.
Current initiatives? When you strongly believe in the benefits of your brand and your offering, you naturally want to get it into as many people’s hands as possible. Our current goal is therefore to scale our reach and our impact, across Europe. We recently started selling online in Germany and France and are taking steps to make Evolved available EU wide!
Advice to others? For the optimists, this could be the chance for some brands and Founders to re-discover why they started their venture in the first place – which is to help people, right? It’s easy to get sucked into what the industry expects from you and lose sight of what you want for the brand. Perhaps a global emergency might be what’s needed to strip you back to your basic core values!
On a practical note, I’d also suggest focusing on what your brand can offer people now, as opposed to what you promise to offer them ‘when things return to normal’. Normal might be a little stretch a way!
Personal takeaway? A number of businesses have folded because of COVID, which is really sad to see. I think the businesses that do come out of this should feel somewhat humbled, that their products and services were applicable to the times. Crediting yourself for ‘good placement’ alone is naïve and only gets you so far during these times. There’s been some real creative changes to brands key messaging recently, which is great to see. However, it is a fact that some luxury items simply won’t make it no matter how genius their marketing strategy is…
We’re all a little shaken up by this. We’ve all got to learn to evolve to the times as best as we can. We all need to support each other and reach out to those that are in a less fortunate position.
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Stuart Macdonald has created the ULTIMATE condiment. Aptly called ‘the peanut butter people’, ManiLife stock all their peanuts from Argentina and were originally batched in 4000 jars at a time, something you would never find in in line production. This is thickest, most indulgent creamy, peanut butter you will ever find. It is also absolutely incredible in protein shakes or smoothies. Stu says “I believe happiness comes through great food, generosity and good company. Mani̛life is far more than just peanut butter. It’s bringing people together. This is happiness in a jar.
Brand changes? We do team wide morning zoom calls. They’re not structured or anything, more a bit of contact – weirdly communication has probably improved due to Covid. We’ll likely keep these morning meetings in some form post lockdown. I’ve changed my “work hours” from maybe 8.30-6.30 to 6.30-5. It’s amazing what you can get done before 9am…! Will try and keep that too!
Current initiatives? We donated about 7000 pots of peanut butter (along with a load of Moma porridge, rude health milk, tea pigs tea and Sheringhams fruit) to a few hundred very deserving people nominated by our customers. I actually delivered a few of the boxes myself which was good emotional!
Advice to others? Act quickly and if you’re in retail stay in stock. If you’ve furloughed staff and your business is still crumbling, try and a find a way to help them rebuild it – hopefully legally!
Personal takeaway? Humans deal with struggle a lot better than we may think and to some extent, especially in communities, we benefit from it. Millenials and Gen Z need to prepare for about 5 decades of seriously hard work because we’re going to have a bloody big bill to pay!
Change your life here.
James Bellis is a man many want to be friends with. Not only did he co-found a social media company, Flavour Social, after being a micro influencer in the food blogging world, but he is also the founder of Balance Coffee: a brand you will all immediately recognise, despite being new to the market this year.
With two very simple, yet effective concepts “to roast coffee that we are proud of, and to deliver a home coffee experience our customers love”, you can create a subscription service delivered straight to your door as well as every single coffee lovers accessory you can think of. This brand also provides the best ethical coffee in the UK, where their focus is to protect the livelihood of their coffee farmers.
Look out for their Balance Coffee School also coming soon online.
What brand changes have you made? I started the company during the Covid-19 pandemic. After a swift change of circumstances just before the virus outbreak, I was left unemployed. During a moment of inspiration one Sunday evening, exactly a week after the UK went into lockdown, I realised the knowledge and contacts I’d built up from working for 8 years in the speciality coffee industry was the best and most rewarding way to get through these difficult times.
Current positives? Excuse the pun, but it has genuinely given me more balance in life. Switching out the travel time and unnecessary meetings from usual busy life has meant more time allocated to personal time – there’s no excuses anymore.
Current initiatives? My two primary initiatives for Balance is content creation and collaboration. Coffee education is at the heart of our content creation initiative as we recognise that we have a job to do in educating consumers about speciality coffee, and why it is far more ethical and sustainable than supermarket coffee. Only 3% of coffee worldwide is speciality grade – so you know that our coffee is top notch.
Collaboration is the second. We’re partnering with a number of complementary brands at the moment. For example, we teamed up with ‘Cup Tea Go’ to offer free hamper giveaways to keep people stocked and fuelled at home during this time.
Advice to other brands? Reactivity is key at the moment. I feel there are two types of business at a time like this. Those who hibernate and wait for the storm to blow over, and those who aim to thrive. Both are viable strategies, but my strategy is focused on thriving.
Also, collaborate where you can. It is really surprising how many brands are open to sharing not only their network but also valuable insights and resources. The phrase ‘power in numbers’ has never been so relevant.
Online sales update? As Balance is only 7 weeks old, it’s naturally slow to begin with. However, what we have found is of the customers who have purchased By the Bag, we’ve had a high percentage return and sign up to our subscription service. For me, this is really promising early signs that we are doing the right thing and we just need to focus on our message and keep banging the drum.
Personally, how have you been coping through lockdown? I guess ups and downs like the most of us but generally speaking, I adjusted fairly quickly. I mapped out a new routine and a new set of behaviours to keep myself focussed. Taking time out for walks and reading has helped me switch off from the new business.
What is the main message you hope to take away from all of this? For me personally, it’s to always look for the positives. It can be easy to get into a downward spiral amid all the negative news and changes in circumstance. Little did I know 11 weeks ago that I’d be running a coffee business and making how-to videos at home!
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Laura Willoughby created Club Soda with the simple mindset to create “a world where nobody has to feel out of place if they’re not drinking”. As well as building up a phenomenal fountain of knowledge of drinks products on the market, Club Soda have also witnessed and helped the birth of many a great tasting, well-crafted alcohol-free brands.
Running for over five years, Laura and her team run free events throughout the year including Mindful Drinking Festivals and also have released their first book. Throughout the last few weeks, their focus has been supporting their 50,000 members and trying to open up access to their support courses; a reaction to the ever-growing demand for online courses to change drinking.
Positives from lockdown? It gives us some space to relook at prioritise and where we want to go as a business, which is harder than it sounds and the future is a bit unpredictable. We have been asking ourselves lots of ‘what if?’ questions!
Current strategies? We have our mindful drinking programmes in place to support people who are worried about how much they are drinking at home or want to use this opportunity to get their drinking under control. We have added an additional podcast a month too!
Wisdom to others? It is hard to know where to start – everything you knew about getting word out about what you d has changed. So try to focus on a few new avenues and see where they take you. You can always change tactics if they go nowhere.
What have you learnt? Like everyone I have good days and bad days and my emotions are a bit unpredictable. Exercise has become my non-negotiable and I am trying to eat well. It is okay if I don’t tick off everything on my to-do list. In fact, this is what I should’ve been doing pre-lockdown so I need to take this opportunity to build my own resilience so I can help others.
Matt Mahatme and Jordan Palmer could be best-described as the premium heroes of my generation. Created in their shared room at university out of frustration that they couldn’t buy a great tasting, affordable mixer, these two have since absolutely dominated the market and have grown their team by 250% in 20 months. This is huge. The best thing about this team is that their joint sense of humours humility and community is like no other. They are fun and dynamic, professional and optimistic and their attitude towards partnerships and success is one that should be followed… by all ages. They have also kept every one of their staff during lockdown. (Last month one of the team, Will Monk, made news with his very original virtual lockdown date). Genius.
Lockdown plus points? Being able to see just how much our staff care about the business and our long term goals has been really liberating. This culture is something Jordan and I strived for from day one. We’ve also been amazed at the amount of love that has been shown to SMEs by people from within the industry as well as consumers looking to back the underdogs.
Current projects? We’re ramping up our online distribution and exploring other avenues on how we can sell D2C (which is challenging with a product that weighs a lot, contains liquid and glass however as always we’re finding new ways around this). As a business that has numerous shareholders, we’ve also turned to them to utilise their experience.
Words of positivity? Use this time to look at every penny you’re spending and, for each spend, ask yourself is this really adding irreplaceable value. Also start speaking to your accountants regularly. Strangely most of the year they tick on in the background doing a fine job but now is the time to get real value from their services. Advice from the government has been quite hazy so checking with the accountants at least gives you a more solid foundation to base your decisions on. Also leaves a paper trail for HMRC should any financial decisions be questioned.
Most importantly look after your people, whether they’re furloughed or able to work, make sure they’re getting on ok, physically and mentally. They’re the ones who will drive the business when the world’s back to normal.
What have you learnt? Together we achieve more. I really hope the sense of community and belonging in hospitality continues and that small and big brands continue to be innovative and supportive of one another. It’s what makes hospitality a special place to work.
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𝗦𝗘𝗔 𝗔𝗥𝗖𝗛 𝗚𝗜𝗡
Named after an iconic rock formation in Devon, founders Geoff Yates and Sarah Yates found inspiration to create their non-alcoholic distilled spirit using traditional techniques. Firm believers that their product tastes “more beautiful without [alcohol], is a fresh addition to the low & no range: balanced, filled with character and with all botanicals locally sourced.
Changes made over the last few weeks? We have delayed some of our plans. We were due to launch an RTD 250ml can of Sea Arch and Tonic but we are delaying the launch at least until we better understand the situation. We just want to give ourselves time to learn more about how the current market is working and how it is likely to evolve. We had also planned to do several trade shows, but they have all been cancelled or postponed, so we will try to reach out directly to the potential customers who would have attended those shows.
Our business is based around both on and off trade, so we have focused our attention to the off trade to include both retail shops and online outlets.
Our key focus is to make sure all business costs are closely monitored and to cut back where practical and possible.
And the positives? Normally life goes at 100 miles an hour so we have been able to take the time to check and amend our strategy and review our performance and aspirations. We have made sure plans can be continually reviewed and amended in this more fluid and uncertain business environment. We can concentrate on what we can do and control rather than on what we can’t. We have made new connections, both personally and businesswise, that we would perhaps not otherwise have made.
Initiatives in place? We are liaising with our retailers and online shops to support them with offers and ensure they have enough stock, but also removing any minimum orders to enable them also to trade with less risk in such uncertain times. As well as this we are increasing our online customer contacts and trying to reach out with positive, relevant and engaging content across our social media platforms.
Advice to others? Ensure your product has various routes to market, thus spreading the risk if one or more channels are closed down. Be willing and able to make changes quickly to adapt business practices and amend plans as required.
Personal takeaway? We can get through even the most difficult and challenging of situations.
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𝗢𝗥𝗜𝗚𝗜𝗡𝗔𝗟 𝗦𝗠𝗔𝗟𝗟 𝗕𝗘𝗘𝗥
With the ethos of ‘rooted in history, made for today’, speaking to Isabelle Gormezano Marks from this company made it very apparent to never underestimate power based on size.With history dictating that often drinking water could be fatal, beer quickly became a staple part of British diet life, traditionally bread between 0.5-2.8% ABV. The Original Small Beer Co has found a way to revive such a classic, trawling through history and dedicating themselves to produce only small beer (0.5 – 2.8%). Here lives the world’s smallest brewery with history cemented in its foundations, paving a way to bring sustainability and society back together.
Positives from lockdown? It’s undeniable that the sense of collective responsibility within the industry, our business as well as local communities (around the brewery and beyond) has been monumental. There was that astounding ‘blank canvas’ moment when organisations had to stop in their tracks, put down the rule book and think…’how do we want to play this…how can we help?’. In some ways that’s been extremely liberating. Doors have opened to work with other businesses that wouldn’t have been there before. We’ve also all been forced to focus on the things that really matter and that can never be taken for granted.
Initiatives in place?
- We’re offering an exclusive discount to all NHS workers through our networks
- We’ve sent ‘care packages’ to on-trade company groups, consisting of Small Beer, healthy snacks and a book which recipients are encouraged to send by post to their co-furloughed colleagues once they’ve read it to provide a distanced book swap, which has been tremendously popular.
- We’ve extended our Small Acts of Kindness initiative (hospitality edition here) that we launched for consumers at the beginning of the year to the on-trade in the form of our ‘Hospitality Edition’. The scheme invites individuals to nominate someone who has done them a small act of kindness. We then send a surprise mixed case of Small Beer to winning nominations to celebrate the kind gestures that have helped make someone’s day and to keep the cycle of smiles moving.
- We’ve also moved our popular live music nights, which we’d usually host in the brewery, onto social media. Teaming up with our friends at SoFar Sounds London, we’ve invited a selection of incredible musicians to do Instagram Live takeovers of our account each week as part of ‘Small Beer Home Sessions’. The idea is to keep our followers entertained, inspired and upbeat, while still inviting them to participate in a live event.
Advice to others? Make sure that you mean what you say. During this time it’s all too easy to knee-jerk into initiatives and statements for the sake of ‘being seen to do something’. Never has it been more important to look inwards at your true brand values and stick by them. By all means pivot, zig then zag, extend and bend, but definitely don’t pretend to be something that you’re not, because it simply won’t work. Now more than ever consumers are looking to brands for authenticity, hope and solutions. Trying to build something brand new on shaky foundations simply won’t hold up and no one will win.
Personal takeaway? That the world is so much bigger than we are. It’s all too easy to live our lives with a sense of removed responsibility, telling ourselves ‘I’m too small to make a difference’, ‘there’s no point’ or ‘who cares’. C19 has shown us all, at terrifying velocity, that we really should respect our environment on an individual level, just as much as on a collective one. Our world is fragile, the speed at which it’s ground to a halt is a stark reminder of this uncomfortable fact. Though too much research suggests the inevitable recession to follow will only encourage our tendency to look after ourselves and seek short term gratification and solutions, I sincerely hope that our respect for our planet and drive to support initiatives that will look after it will be on a par with that of our own individual health and happiness.
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Charlie Markland took a risk with his product. Having seen the huge success of the likes of White Claw in the States, he found a gap in the UK market and went for it. And what a GREAT risk it turned out to be. What originated as a conversation with surfers on Bodega Bay has stormed the low & no market. Now present in supermarkets all over the world and sponsoring major events like Crossfit Games, this is the ultimate ‘guilt-free solution to socialise with alcohol, without compromising taste or quality’. This is a game-changer for next generation drinking. (The 4000% increase in sales should be a clear indicator of this).
Biggest challenge? Postponing a launch into several high-end bars through the Drake and Morgan and Darwin And Wallace bar chains-that said our online sales are up 4000% as people are looking for a guilt-free option whilst on isolation!
And the positives? From a societal point of view, we take great pleasure in seeing the environment getting a chance to show us what life would be like without the impact of ‘normal life’. From a business point of view, it has forced us to focused on really engaging with our consumers without getting wrapped up in the day-to-day administration of business to business trading. Ironically, We’ve never felt so close to our consumer!
Current game plan? We have shifted our entire ‘in hand’ sampling and marketing budget towards driving trial through direct to consumer sales platforms. We are also taking the time to distil our values as a business, for example, we have started our application for the coveted B Corp status (businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose).
Words of wisdom for others? From a business point of view I would be running very lean and use government initiatives thoughtfully to protect your employees as best you can. When this is all over it will be your leadership at this time which will prove your business’ ability to flourish in good times and bad and your employees need to know you have their back.
Your main takeaways? That we have underestimated the importance of social connectivity, the fundamental importance and respect we owe our blue-collar workforce, and our impact on the environment. It is as if the virus has come into existence, to literally send us to our room to think about our actions. I don’t mean for that to sound flippant, as there have been so many devastating stories-I only hope that we learn new ways to: operate in cooperation with the environment, value our hard working & under paid people in the UK and the support the global community going forward.
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For those of you who haven’t heard of Abigail Leek’s product, Sign, you really should. Born from an experience whilst on holiday in Ibiza, this drink is made from totally natural ingredients with the benefit of added vitamins. Already present in places like Gym Box, Lost Village and London Music Conference (to name a few), this drink speaks volumes of history as well as offering a refreshing new taste to the ever-growing range across the world. But what makes this brand really stand out is the love invested behind its creation.
What changes have you recently made? We have changed our strategy from focusing on promoting health and wellbeing at events and festivals to honing in on our online audience and launching our online shop with various case size options. I feel passionate about providing nourishment to the masses, so it’s a great time to really focus on that aspect of the business. We are able to deliver Sign direct to the consumer while abiding by the guidelines. I feel very much like a Sign Robin Hood, leaving cases of goodness then fleeing the scene. It feels wonderful to know someone is about to drink something that will uplift and replenish their body and mind in these uncertain times.
What positives are you taking from the current situation? As festivals and events have been eliminated from the equation for now it has given me more time and energy to focus on the individual buyer and to build a stronger rapport with my clientele online. I have more time to create an online brand presence and it’s allowing me to provide quality content for consumers; sharing my journey, details about our suppliers, our cause and our mission. The energy has been stream lined and I have put all my effort into getting my message out there. My focus was originally to provide nourishment in venues, events and festivals but as this pandemic has shown us, it’s important for us take our wellbeing into consideration at all times including at home.
Current strategies in place? We are starting to build alliances with other brands, developing strategies for sharing the work load, collaboration and cross promotion and to reach a wider audience. We have started reaching out to local businesses to support them in what they are doing and vice versa. We are also issuing relevant press releases to the media.
Advice to others? Tell your story online. Your personal story of how you came to be where you are, also your struggles and your bigger vision. Connect with as many people as possible, we are seeing people open to new ways of thinking becoming extremely interested in coming up with solutions together. The impact will be monumental if we can support each other wherever we can.
What is the main message you hope to take away from all of this? This time at home has shown me that creativity and innovation are powerful tools in reaching the public in unique ways. I have been blown away by fellow business owners and entrepreneurs who are going above and beyond to stay afloat during this time. I learn so much just from watching others and how they tackle their own obstacles, so that’s been wonderful to witness. Collaborations have been a form of survival over the last few weeks and they have been key to growing my brand presence online. I have been connecting with more brands and movements to plan for when the doors do open and how we are going to combine forces together to create a better future. It’s clear there are going to be different ways of thinking in regards to health and wellbeing and we should prepare for this and make sure there are brands and products available to the public that offer healthier ingredients and are more sustainable. This pandemic has made me realise how strong we are as a community and that we need to stick together to lift each other up.
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Discount code: SIGNTRIBE2020
Described by many as the saving grace for ‘Dry January 2020’, Lucky Saint really is a name that everyone has heard of by now… and at least tried. Luke Boase has “a fairly ambitious” vision. Wanting to ‘change how the world thought about alcohol-free beer’, he was initially advised to make fizzy drinks. Ignoring such advice, he immersed himself into the science of brewing, quit alcohol, his job and life as he knew it and moved to Germany. It has taken years of trial and error, endless patience and learning but here it is. One of the world’s best alcohol-free beers.
Jordan Wentzel, the man behind their brand, ops and sales, tells me more;
Lockdown highlights? Google Hangouts.. and lots of them! We started off having 2 calls a day, but quickly realised that wasn’t suitable for our ways of working. We have also started using Trello to manage the teams projects, which we go through together once a week so we are all informed of whats going on. We have also changed the content we are using. We had just launched our lager on draught so had lot’s of imagery containing pint glasses – but people can’t have a pint so they didn’t want to see it! We recruited some photographers on lockdown and conducted 2 photoshoots via facetime and came out with an awesome mix of professional photos that look user generated. UGC has been transformational to our ads.
Personal positives? I’m actually drinking less as there is nothing I love more than an after work pint at the pub. As a team we have all learnt new skills over the past month and we are setting ourselves up to come out the other side stronger. It’s also nice to slow down from the crazy London lifestyle.
Advice to other brands? Stay strong & stay in touch. This absurd time has affected us all in different ways, but use this time to refresh, relax and remind yourself why you’re really doing this.
Online sales update? We have just had our best ever month – we never expected to do this when we found out the on trade was shutting down as it was 70% off our business. We have always focused on ecommerce as a channel and it’s nice to see it finally coming together, albeit in these uncertain times. We have also seen growth on Amazon and got to the second-best selling lager.
Personal takeaway? You don’t have to be conventional to make things happen.
Recent brand changes? We were a brand big on activation. We had a ‘ZING’ team of more than 20 students, energising people where they needed it most, like gyms, running and triathlon events. We also loved putting on our own events like our weekly TENZING Clean Air Run Club and we were even heading out to Nepal for our first ever TENZING Trek, with 20 people climbing Lobuche East and helping with our clean up Everest project. It actually brings tears to my eyes to think that all these things are no longer possible and might not be for the unforeseeable future.
As a business we, like many, have had to make a radical shift from “real life” activation to online activation. We are working on a couple “make from home” innovations and are launching online in more countries.We also brought an innovation forward. To cement our position as a workout drink, we launched the World’s First Natural Energy with plant-based BCAAs.
We took the risk of launching a new product despite lockdown and it’s paid off! People are even more focused on their health, diet and wellbeing so our product is even more relevant than ever which has meant that we’ve been able to make more noise than other businesses that have taken less risk during this period.
Lockdown highlights? The good news is that the need for natural, low sugar energy is greater than ever. To be honest we are lucky to have a very relevant product at this time. TENZING is based on the energising brews Sherpa’s drink on the Himalayan Expeditions. It’s a triple hit of natural caffeine, Vitamin C and Electrolytes. So it’s perfect for keeping you hydrated and energised on your daily exercise or concentrated while WFH. Our mix of natural caffeine and L-Theanine (from green coffee, green tea and guarana) combined with our Vitamin C from Acerola Cherries is a great dopamine booster as well, which is much needed in these days of strain on our mental health.
Advice to other brands? Bring back the entrepreneurial spirit that got you going in the first place. I think for us, and for me, it has brought me back to the year TENZING launched. We have had to watch every penny, but have also become more focussed and innovative.
For instance, we were going to go to Nepal to climb to Basecamp and beyond, but seeing as that wasn’t possible, we asked who of the team was up for climbing Everest at home using just their staircase! Three people were up for it and one person made it! Infact, he climbed the equivalent of up AND down Everest in less than 25 hours! An astonishing achievement (powered purely by plants!) and in the meantime we raised money for the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund too. As a consequence we received the most amount of press coverage we’ve ever had including Sky News, The Telegraph, Washington Post and dozens more.
Online sales update? Amazon has always been one of our top selling customers with TENZING consistently amongst the best sellers within energy drinks, but things have really exploded for us on Amazon since lockdown began. We’ve strengthened our position even more now – we’re up 54% online in comparison to this time last year.
Our TENZING webstore has exploded too during lockdown, with 158% more visitors to the store in the first week alone.
Personal takeaway? I have always believed that the secret to life is setting clear and inspiring goals for yourself and the team around you, whilst at the same time not getting engulfed in those goals and dreams, but instead enjoying the moment of now and the simple steps on the way to those goals. I think that is what has brought me off tilt in this phase: my goals have become less clear, less achievable and there have been less moments to enjoy. My main message to myself right now, and going forward, is that in trying times setting clear goals and enjoying every step of the way is so important, even if it means encountering difficult days in the process.
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GENIE LIVING DRINKS CO
Co-Founder Alex Webster and longline friend Billy Read thought up their brand sat in a pub garden on a Tuesday evening. Unwilling to have a beer, they wanted to enjoy something soft, healthy and sweet. And here Genie Drinks was born. Combining ‘the art of crafting delicious drinks with the science of live cultures and fermentation’, there are five different flavours – three kombuchas and two live sodas. They also have a 2019 Great Taste Award – deservedly so because they are pretty spectacular.
Changes made during lockdown? We have reduced our pricing to try and help while also opening up more sales channels online, including Amazon, to ensure people can #stayhome
Personal positives? We think the world will emerge as a place even more aligned with our ethos here at Genie. We are already more mindful of the environment thanks to Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thornberg and we think people will be even more mindful of what they consume & their health after Covid. We wished for better drinks and a better world when we started Genie, and this may speed up this process!
Advice to other brands? Reduce fixed costs as fast as you can and focus on online sales – all rather obvious really.
Online sales update? Our online sales have grown significantly since this virus broke, replacing our sales that were coming from a now shut high street.
Personal takeaway? We will get through this together as a society. I am really pleased to see how society in general is pulling together and indeed how FMCG brands are working hard to try to help (and of course to survive).
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Probably some of the coolest kids on the drinks block, the team at Punchy are one to keep a close eye on this year. Sam, Paddy, Georgia and Charlie have taken their products to new levels this year with their very clear and pretty epic messages on sustainability. Premium punch makers who wanted to create something that appealed to every type of drinker, their products will always promise to be low in sugar, gluten free, vegan and made with natural ingredients. Oh and delicious of course. Interested in ‘punch, not pressure’, they are also plastic-free and give back to the charities protecting our planet. As mentioned already, epic in EVERY way possible.
Lockdown highlights? As a small brand we have had to make the drastic move to reduce all our outgoing costs as much as possible and divert the cash where it’s needed most. This has included furloughing 75% of the workforce, cutting back on all marketing spend and leaving ourselves only warehouse and logistics and online advertising spend left to play with. Big shout out to our office space Market Peckham, who are a start-up themselves, and still have put a pause on our rent payments – not all superheroes wear capes
Brand positives? For us there are lots of positives to be taken. Firstly, our new webshop is finally live and looking great. A goal of ours since launching our new range of cans in January, it’s a job that’s fallen by the wayside with the vast number of other things going on. We are relatively lucky as a young business that we have the flexibility to pivot really quickly online. We’re using this time to solidify our existing brand partnerships and striving to create new ones, we’re all in it together after all.
Advice to other brands? To try and do everything you can to adapt to the rapidly changing times. If you can move things online do, if you can’t then see how you can offer your services to people that are still operational. It may be in the short term that you can’t make any money off of it, but any relationship building you can do now won’t be quickly forgotten. It’s important to remember that everyone is largely in the same boat here and facing similar pressures so think about the sort of messages that you would want to receive and try and emulate that with your outreach, whether the goal is winning new business, talking to your existing customers or just checking in with mates.
Online sales update? It’s still a little early to say as we’ve only just got the webshop live and overcome our troubles with getting listed properly on Amazon. Anyone else that sells on Amazon will know the struggles all too well. However, since going live the response has been amazing and as it’s our full focus we’re expecting it to continue. Our other online retailers such as Ocado and Farmdrop are picking up speed as well, now that everyone is over the need to excessively stock up on toilet roll and chopped tomatoes.
Personal takeaway? It’s something that has been widely accepted in the food and drink industry, and it pains me to use the cliché, but we really are better off when we work together.
Brand changes? As a supplier to the on-trade, REAL saw 80% of our business shut up shop overnight with all pubs, bars and restaurants sadly forced to close. But we quickly shifted our attention to our online shop and the digital side of the business and the response has been great. We have some very loyal customers who have supported us by shouting about what we do, and a very flexible team, many of whom who have changed roles to focus on digital communication. We are also now focusing on the off-trade and speciality retailers and have expanded our reach, particularly with speciality retailers around our local area. The community spirit between local businesses and local customers has been really positive.
Current initiatives? As the sophisticated non-alcoholic sparkling of choice for many of the UK’s top restaurants, pubs and bars, we have been fortunate enough to work with fantastic chefs, that have become friends and ambassadors over time. The devastating closure of these respected establishments has led to lots of these talented chefs questioning their future. To support them, we launched REAL Chefs, a collaborative series of online cooking tutorials from top UK chefs to support the sector by encouraging donations through the REAL website that go directly to each chef, their restaurant or charity Hospitality Action. It’s a way of showing our appreciation to those chefs that have supported us since launch we launched two years ago.We’re also collaborating with like minded No/Low independants such as Lucky Saint and Sassy Cidre (who are also donating 10% of every purchase to Hospitality Action) to cross-promote and support each others online stores, sharing content to amplify the message of eating and drinking healthily. Our brewery is in Buckinghamshire, and we’ve had to look much closer to home and support local independant businesses. It’s been very inspiring to see what initiatives have been set-up but to also meet neighbours that do fantastic things such as my local cattle farm i’ve just discovered Native Beef, producing pasture fed rare breed meats just at the bottom of my road.
Lockdown highlights? We are taking lots of positives from this situation. I think in times like these you have to, else it’s all quite gloomy. We are using our platforms to help inspire more joy in people’s lives, knowing that everyone is having to get a bit more creative at home!
Brand positives Right now we are focused on times that are relevant for Caleño! As an alcohol-free brand, focused on bringing more joy to times that are lacking, we’ve honed in on the following. 1) Helping to upgrade people’s lunch hour with a Caleño & Tonic, as they take some much time away from their work (We’re calling it #HAPPYLUNCHHOUR), and 2) Encouraging people to ##MIXITUPMIDWEEK which is all about staying healthy and on track through-out the week, and mixing up a Caleño alcohol-free cocktail, versus reaching for a bottle of alcohol…
Advice to other brands? Focus hard on the parts of your business that are bringing in cash right now – is there anywhere you can optimise those parts and help them bring in more? Once you have that secure, focus on potential new revenue streams. You’ll probably have limited time and resources right now, so choose carefully.
Personal lockdown experience? I have tried to create a bit of a routine and bring some normality to the day-to-day. I catch up with the whole team each morning, which is a great way to start the day and boost morale, and then I write a list of everything I want to achieve/get done. I then find cooking in the evenings or making up a new cocktail in the evening is a nice way to stay creative! We’ve also started running live dance sessions with DANs, a Latin dance studio which is a fun way to keep active.
Personal takeaway? Never take anything for granted. This is a huge test of resilience and adaptability for all businesses, and feel I’ve been challenged as a ‘leader’ more in this time than any other.
Lockdown positives? We pride ourselves on being an approachable, ‘real’ brand and now is a good time to engage with our customers and build on those relationships. Now is a really good time for reflection, it’s been so hectic since our launch in May 2019 and we haven’t stopped for a second! Now we can look at what we’re doing and see how we can continue to improve and appreciate our journey so far whilst working out any kinks.
Brand changes? Luckily as a small team we are able to flex and adapt quickly. We have refocused our sales efforts and put more emphasis on our online sales platforms, and this has been very successful. We have taken the time to refine our logistics, ensuring that we are adaptable and able to cope with any changes to come. A lot has also stayed the same though. We are consistent in our presence and personality as a brand and continue to make sure that we make a positive impact on society and the world with our initiatives, old and new.
Current initiatives? This month we began a new initiative in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. We are now donating 5% of all our sales to NHS Charities Together. This money will be used in various ways to support staff, volunteers, and patients. For example, the long term mental rehabilitation of staff after the pandemic and well being packs for those in need. Since January, we have been planting 12 trees per employee per month and fund renewable energy projects across the globe. Doing our part for the environment should continue to be a priority for people and businesses.
Wisdom to others? Get creative with your approach. The world is changing and those who can cope with the change and adapt are the ones that will survive. This doesn’t mean you can’t stay true to your brand personality and values though!
Personal takeaway? I think when you run a business you essentially create a little world and sometimes you end up living there quite a lot. Although work and our business is important, situations like this do make you evaluate your priorities and at the end of the day, the most important things in life are friends, family, health, and love.
This brand was definitely one of the first of its kind to grab attention across the trade. Alex Angel and his team have created a product that combines the perfect combination of sustainability, flavour and keeping it local. Made from three ingredients, misfit fruits, bubbles and UK-sourced spring water, there are five different tasty flavours all with the premise in mind that ‘no farmer should have to see their hard work go to waste’.
The other huge positive I’m seeing is the team spirit among the group. Rather than feeling frustrated that great laid plans have evaporated overnight, the team is moving at pace to identify new opportunities and are all sticking their hands up to offer help in areas typically outside of their job description. It’s helping share the workload and keep motivation high for everyone.
The Peach launch has also been a massive positive. Loads of amazing influencers have been offering glowing reviews, and we were delighted to see Dash featuring on David & Victoria Beckham’s Instagrams last week! We’re very confident Peach will prove to be one of our top flavours.
Current initiatives? We’ve massively stepped up our focus and investment online – we have our own webshop that is flying at the moment and we are doing all we can to get as much stock as possible into Amazon and Ocado. With consumers looking for new ways to get their hands on food and drink, it is an amazing time for customer acquisition, and being a small brand allows us to be much more nimble in flexing our ad spend to take advantage of this.
The other thing that has made the team immensely proud is seeing pictures of Dash that we’ve donated to NHS workers. They are the war heroes doing an amazing job on the front line and we want to help them in any way we can.
I’d also advise finding opportunities to have fun as a team. We all got creative recently to create a “Birthday Message” for one of the guys in the group, which was great, and then we’ve also been filming tongue in cheek “a day in the lift of” videos to produce some engaging social media content. Fridays are still the day we grab a drink after work and use our afternoon video call to talk about things other than work.Personal takeaway?
With kombucha ranking in the top three of wellness drinks these days, Josh Puddle definitely has to know anything and everything about this world. And from the first taste and look of his products, this is obvious. First coming across the concept of kombucha in New York in 2016, couple Lisa and Josh decided to experiment with some home brew. With each batch brewed in the old-fashioned way in a small glass jar, MOMO believes this is the only way to create the highest quality kombucha. Coming in three flavours, you have to try one if you haven’t already.
Brand changes? We have made some minor changes here and there but nothing major. As a founder I am spending my time on other parts of the business to save costs (bottling and deliveries mainly). We are doing what we can to boost online orders and we have been preparing a few longer term projects that had always been pushed to one side.
Lockdown positives? There is little traffic on the road meaning I can do more deliveries which I enjoy. It gives me a chance to chat to our stockists (the ones that haven’t had to close). I’m working slightly shorter hours which has also been nice as it’s given me the chance to see more of my family. I’ve particularly enjoyed having breakfast altogether, whereas in “normal” times I would leave before the kids wake up. As I mentioned above it has given us the opportunity to do all the smaller bits and pieces that always get overlooked so we feel more organised in that sense.
Current initiatives? We are offering 15% off on Local Deliveries ordered through our web shop.We have also been thinking about what we can do to support the community during this crisis. We are donating 10p from every bottle sold to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal.
Wisdom to others? Brands need to be planning for the worst case scenario and working out if they have enough cash to survive. If not, brands should be doing everything they can to improve their cash position. This is a great opportunity to think long term, review business models, plan initiatives, and work out ways to be stronger when we are on the other side of lockdown. Whilst this is an incredibly painful process for a huge number of companies, opportunities will be presented and small, agile companies should find ways to benefit.Lastly, this is probably obvious, but brands should be 100% sure they are aware of the government support available and use it if needed.
Personal takeaway? From a business perspective I think this period will always stick with me and I’ll want to ensure that we are always well financed so we can survive hard times. I want MOMO to be a loved brand that is enjoyed for generations and I think this is a reminder that as a founder I need to make strategic decisions that think properly long term.
Aside from that, it’s business as usual, I guess it’s been a good time to step back and have a think about what’s next and to get a lot of the jobs we’d been putting off done!
And the positives? The storm will pass soon and hopefully hospitality will come back with a bang and we’ll see plenty of progress once more. It’s easy to get down about the situation but we’re looking at the positives such as spending more time with the family, a slightly slower pace of life, and appreciating some of the less obvious things in life that little bit more.
Secondly is to appreciate what you have. It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race, and taking a step back every now and then to look at what you’ve got can help with your mental and physical wellbeing. It’s easy to forget how lucky we all are.
Inspired by nan’s tasty recipes, Flawsome! saves imperfect & surplus fruit and transforms it into perfectly crafted cold-pressed juices. A trip to a local farm opened the eyes of Karina Sudenyte to the food waste problem – specifically the devastating effect that excessive aesthetic standards imposed by supermarkets have on the food we consume. They decided to take the mission against waste and inspire the world to re-imagine their perceptions of all things that are wasted because there is no ‘Planet B’.
Brand changes? Alongside many other businesses, Flawsome! were struck by the new difficulties for their business as a result of Covid-19. 80% of our sales came from the Food Service industry therefore, it was important to rethink our business strategy quickly. We had no choice than pivot and transform our business model into D to C business.
Personally coping through lockdown? Being parents of twins and running our own business venture at the same time is not the easiest thing to do, however we’ve enjoyed our lockdown so far. We always try to ignore any negative influence from others, and always think that beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from negativity. We both improve our mood by focusing on the small things that bring happiness to us each day. We are grateful that we can spend more time with out children, create memories and evaluate priorities. At the same time, it is on all of us to go over and above, to rally together to make sure the business survives during this uncertain time.
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Rosh Amarasekara is the lady behind this London-brand which ‘crafts adult soft drinks with the world’s most kick-ass plants’. The plants are cold brewed, distilled and extracted our plants to create pretty delicious, complex flavours that slay on taste and worship your insides. Their message on sustainability also takes no prisoners. All of their plants are ethically sourced with their glass crafted in the UK and a part of every sale goes to SOS Children’s Villages charity in Sri Lanka. Take note other brands.
Brand changes? We’re lucky that we make drinks with functional plants and that we produce here in the UK, so we haven’t had to make big changes in terms of what we produce or how we do it. What we have seen though is a big uptick in online orders, and obviously a fall off in our on trade so we’ve pivoted our route to market to get to where are customers are right now.
In a world where it seems anyone is able to become a personal trainer or coach of some nature, it is increasingly hard to find one who can offer you everything you would ever need: permission to grow, learn, succeed, fail and become so much more than you thought was possible. Moving from a full-time join the corporate world, Emily realised something was desperately missing from her life. What is perhaps the most wonderful thing about her, which is obvious from your first moments with her, is her incredible positive energy that bounces off her, straight onto you. It is impossible to not feel good as soon as she is around. Her ability to make every workout and coaching session rewarding is a skill that cannot be taught.
Changes made during lockdown? This has brought a lot of devastation upon the fitness industry. The USP for personal and fitness trainers is the connection they have with their clients and their ability to bring energy and motivation to a room or class. We have to now think outside of the box.
What are your positives? SO many. From spending more quality time with my family, less rushing and commuting, business expansion, personal development and coaching, having time to reflect on areas I had neglected.
Advice to other trainers? Be Brave – if you have an idea, put it out there. Think outside the box. Use your skills – you WILL have a unique selling point. Don’t be intimidated by everything out there…. the feeling of even helping one person at this time is amazing. Collaborate with others. Listen.
Main life lessons from this? Be brave. If you know your why, your reason for doing what you do, then nothing (not even a pandemic) will stop you BUT you have to adapt to the times, pivot the way you work and offer the support that people need.
Safe to say I have pivoted my business to help my clients in the areas they need my support. I wasn’t going to let isolation stop me.
How have you adapted during these times? I do a lot of my work online already, but I am now at 100%. Workshops that would normally be done in person are now done via Zoom. I’ve adapted my offers to make it easier for people to connect and be part of what I do without having to invest in long term commitments. Being consistent with my marketing and visability is essential now. Sharing who I am, what I do, and who I help. Those that need my services need to be able to find me in these very challenging times.
And your positives? Never again will we be give this opportunity to stop, reflect and look at our lives in the same way. We are all being forced to slow down. To go within. If we use this time wisely it can be the catalyst to some of the biggest personal and professional changes we will ever make in our lives
Your current initiatives? Currently I’m offering a free online ‘feel good in five days’ program as part of my new Facebook group ‘the healthy, happy hospitality hub’. I am launching an online course ‘blueprint to a healthier and happier you’ and I’m offering DISC (a type of) personality profiling with 90 minutes of one to one coaching as a special lock down offer. I’m collaborating and working alongside other leaders in the industry to support and help as much as I can with workshops, talks and written content to aid with the mental and physical challenges at this time
Your advice to others? My advice is take care of your people. Mental and physical well being needs to be at the top of everyone’s agenda this year. We should not underestimate the effect the pandemic and the consequences of lock down has had. Living under uncertainty, fear and stress for extended periods of time is hugely detrimental to health. Ongoing engagement, and support is essential.
Your main takeaway? The universe is giving us a big reminder that we aren’t in control of anything external. But we are in control of ourselves. We can control how we think, behave, and feel. Its time to take back our control of who we really. To use this once in a life time opportunity to reshape our lives. All of us have been given a gift to slow down and reflect on how we were living, and see where we can make more positive changes for ourselves, each other and our planet.
Now temporarily re-branded as the online fitness community, Gymnasium really is a gym like no other. Generously freezing any members accounts who couldn’t attend classes before lockdown, Alex Wertheim and his pretty wonderful team worked together to move their fitness family onto the internet. There are paid at-home programmes and free solutions for members and non-members. The main focus has been to keep the brand fundamentally the same. Their business model may have changed but their sense of cohesion and community is stronger than ever. And this will not change.
Current positives? The amount of help & support we have seen between our members and to us has been immense. Helping each other get hold of essential items for each other, setting up online challenges to keep everyone connected and a general collective positive spirit in the face of adversity has been amazing. Our Legends program for 60+ has been gaining momentum and is something we are excited to grow. This is probably where we see ourselves being able to have the biggest impact as we see it as vital to keep this demographic fit & healthy. It started with a few parents of members and has grown to 20+ a class with people calling in from all over the world.
What programmes do you currently offer?
- Home | Plus:
- Our paid at-home membership with daily programming via our app, live coached classes, a personal coach to support our members through lockdown. This also included loaning out nearly all of our equipment in the gym!
- Live | Athletica:
- A free bodyweight only cardio program coached live every day, open to everyone whether a member or not.
- Live | Stronger:
- A strength, bodyweight only program designed to work alongside Athletica, also coached every day.
- Live | Legends:
- Online classes aimed at 60+ who are stuck in isolation and for whom it is vital to stay fit & healthy to best combat the risk of CV-19.
- Live | Recover
- Our mobility and joint-health program taking inspiration from Yoga, Kinstretch and FRC to support our main programming and keep everyone injury free
As well as fitness classes, we run a weekly online quiz and a live Sunday cook-along with our coaching team. Both of these are a really nice way for everyone to catch up properly with friends and have become vital in maintaining the Gymnasium community feel that we are really proud of.
Advice to other brands? Go all in. Focus on what you do best and do everything you can to continue to provide your customers with the value they used to receive when everything was in person. Our goal as a gym has always been to be primarily a place for community, friendship and fun. We bring that same goal to our online platform now and see it as our mission to keep that community connected and happy. Fitness is obviously still important but we ensure all of our live sessions have a decent chunk of time for reconnecting with each other, sharing some banter and simply seeing some familiar faces!
What have you learnt? The community spirit that everyone across the world has shown has been amazing. Big businesses collaborating on ventilator manufacture all the way down to the millions of individuals who volunteered to help the NHS, it has been humbling to witness. I hope that we all maintain at least some part of that and continue to be more community driven in the long term.
What is the first thing, as a gym, you are going to do when you open again?Depending on what is deemed safe and appropriate we will be doing lots of hugs and high-fives! We will probably run a big in-house competition to celebrate being back in the gym and throw a massive party – but we expect we will have to wait until 2021 for that unfortunately as it’s going to be a while until we can safely get 400+ people back together in one place!
Shanna at Colesdale Farm is probably one of the nicest landowners you will come across in the hospitably and events world. Situated in Northaw village, just outside of London, this farm has the most idyllic setting to the farm – ideal for commercial barn rentals, countryside event spaces, glamping, film, retreats and much more.
How have the last few weeks been for you? As a large outdoor events venue, Covid 19 has hit us really hard. Last year our first festival of the year was in Mid April, and our season finished at the end of August. This year, we’ve had the majority our events cancel, and two (so far) have moved from their original date, over to September. We have either refunded or moved across all payments for those affected (some to next summer!). It came at a particularly unfortunate time for us, as we had just been announced as Runner-Up Venue of the Year at the national Event Production Awards. We were set to have our biggest and best festival season to date. We also run a glamping cabin, and this has also remained closed so far this year, and will be for the foreseeable future.
How are you remaining optimistic? We have a lot more time now to spend with family, and of course, we are lucky to be in such beautiful green surroundings. Often, the sun has been shining which has really helped. We’ve used the ‘downtime’ to get as many jobs done around the farm; we’ve done some tree planting and tree maintenance, pond work, fencing, barn repairs, new signage and such like. Although we do a fair amount of maintenance and preparation before the start of each season, we’ve been able to tackle some bigger jobs that will really enhance the venue for when we do reopen, and as a three-generational family on the farm, we’ve been able to pass on some traditional farming skills to some of the younger members while schools are closed!
Advice to others? We could have saved ourselves some of the financial loss we’ve experienced by being difficult about deposit returns/transfers, especially as most of our festivals fall outside the current lock down dates, so we weren’t under any legal obligation to help. We obviously chose not to do this, as this would have been a terrible blow to our organisers, and would not have bode well for future partnerships.
Your main takeaway from all of this? I have high hopes that some lessons will be learnt from this. The first is that many people have embraced technologies that allow them to work from home, and I hope that translates into fewer commuting hours for large sections of the population going forward. I think we’ve all realised the importance of face-to-face meetings now we can no longer have them, but my personal view is that most people, depending on their role of course, could work from home for the majority of the week, with focused times where whole teams come together. This would hopefully include some in-built down time, such as a group lunch, to retain and strengthen that team spirit in absence of daily contact. If this were achieved, we’d likely experience huge gains in terms of cleaner air. Poor air quality in the UK contributes to tens of thousands of deaths annually, so we make permanent changes to how much time we spend on the road, we could really start to offset some of this.
Brand changes? We haven’t made changes as a brand as such. We’ve always been focused on 3 pillars: insights, accountability and support. We’ve definitely focused more on the proactive support for industry and individuals than normal but it’s still very much part of our brand.
Current positives? I’m taking the fact that everyone is realising how precious our wellbeing is. That companies will realise that they need their teams to be well, in all senses of the word so that workplace wellbeing is a serious part of the agenda going forward.
Current initiatives? We offer a Support Line and peer-to-peer support programme called Buddies Matter for the events industry. Wider than that, we offer online wellbeing workshops, coaching sessions, mental health training courses and a pledge scheme where we help businesses write their wellbeing strategy.
During mental health awareness week, we are offering FREE wellbeing audits to companies that book at least 1 place on our mental health aware public workshop.
Advice to others? Don’t shy away from who you are as a brand. There’s been a lot of talk of pivoting which is good as long as it doesn’t take away from your core mission or values.
Main takeaway? That this is an opportunity to reset our approach to wellbeing.
Charlie Bowes-Lyon and Freddie Ward have been friends for years and with this friendship has sprung Wild Cosmetics – a range of refillable deodorants: the first of their kind to be 100% compostable and biodegradable. The team are committed to bringing their customers the best of the best; after a hugely successful trial product run in 2019, 12 months of hard work and over 25 iterations of its packaging and formulations, Wild is now relaunching globally, with a biodegradable, refillable deodorant that is 100% compostable and available in five new natural fragrances. Free from harsh chemicals, such as parabens and aluminium salts, that a typical antiperspirant might include, their refillable deodorant range is just the start of many natural alternative products to come.
Describe your last few weeks? It has certainly been a challenging few months. Due to coronavirus related delays we had to do a 3 week pre-sale, pushing our official launch back to the end of March. Incredibly we ended up receiving over 7000 orders in just 20 days which we were obviously thrilled about but this came with its share of operational issues. I found myself at the height of disruption reaching out to the MD of Lush on linkedin begging for some baking soda so we could produce our launch batch as our suppliers had closed down due to coronavirus. They replied which was amazing. We have had to be incredibly responsive throughout the last few weeks and there have been several moments where it looked like we were going to be unable to receive stock but fortunately through a lot of chasing and a bit of luck we have managed to get things over the line and up and running.
Your advice to others? Stick with it – try to take a lean approach. Now is a good time for companies to focus on strategies that enable them to become profitable. Companies, especially start ups, that rely on round after round of funding will always suffer in recessions or economic downturns. It’s important to “cut away the fat” and focus on core areas that will genuinely make a difference to your business. Who is your customer? What do they want? How can you appeal to them? What messaging will get them convert them to purchasing when they might be feeling tight on cash? Companies can be both smart about their approach to customers whilst also being sympathetic and helpful. Finally, being reactive and agile is important – things are changing very quickly and to react fast to certain circumstances can make all the difference.
Your main takeaway? From a business perspective I think the main message has to be that if you want to create a successful business, it needs to be able to withstand any economic climate. Some of the most well-known companies today were born out of recessions. They survive because they stay lean, control their finances and find routes to profitability. I have no doubt thousands of businesses will cease to exist after this because they’ve failed to take that lesson on board.
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Alex Bruce is no stranger to the outdoors. Growing up in the water, the ocean has been a passion for years and his attitude towards protecting it is infectious and highly commend able. Acting as somewhat of a pioneer in his generation, Alex has created Turtle Straws as the answer to an alternative straw. So here you are: a straw, made with no added chemicals and no nonsense. 100% Natural. 100% Biodegradable. A product that can be grown, harvested and grown again, year on year.
Your main observations and changes? I am normally based in Meribel. Bars/restaurants are my main customers so seeing as these are all closed for the foreseeable future we have stopped hunting for prospects or hassling people to restock. We will do again when there is light at the end of the tunnel. We have ramped up social media, production of video content and highly relevant content (Turtle King) without delving too deeply into coronavirus too much because people are fatigued by it. We have also changed up our delivery process for B2C because Amazon are overwhelmed. So we have tagged selling of products in with increased social media activity. I started a youtube channel with short lessons for children, focusing on plastics, recycling, turtles and so on that kids can hopefully watch while they are not at school. The overall plan is to get people enjoying not just the products but excited by our overall message of simple easy sustainable changes and really try and put a face behind Turtle Straws.
Current incentives? We have just dropped the price of all products, £10 for hat/bottles and £3.99 for 50 straws. And if you get a hat and bottle at the same time then you get a free box of straws.
Words to others? Act on what you can. Control what you can.
What will you take away with you? Sometimes its good to just push the pause button. And sometimes someone pushes the pause button for you and you are in control of what you do about it.
For Maxim Gelmann, his product Stroodles is “not just another straw company… ” it a movement”. Existing to fight plastic waste, this company wants to inspire others and show them just how easy it is to ‘do good’… one Stroodle at a time. Without having to compromise on your drinking behaviour, you can just do good the easy way. Max calls this ‘drink easy’. His slogan is simple: ‘Make a Change. Make A Stand’ and this is something we should all get onboard with.
1. As a brand, what changes have you made during the last three weeks?
The main focus areas in the last 3 weeks were burn-rate reduction and strategy review. Thus, I reviewed (and renegotiated) fixed costs, subscriptions, etc. to reduce the cash-flow impact as much as I possibly can, especially knowing that the cash will be even more valuable, once we come out on the other side. I was fortunate to have had very understanding suppliers, but still unfortunately had to furlough one Stroodle-Staff-Member.
Other than, having two sides to the business B2B and B2C, with B2B being more hospitality industry focused, we started to switch all our attention on B2C. This also included bringing more long-term projects like a website and packaging redesign forward with a strong focus on it. Furthermore we started identifying and focusing on marketing opportunities in form of brand partnerships and giveaways and trying to make the most from customers being more glued to their screens now. Further, we even launched 4 stroodles-challenges on how Stroodlers can repurpose their stroodlers and we are even part of an AR-Game called Snatch (like Pokemon Go for brands). On the B2B side on the other hand, we had to restructure sales to be more focused on sales-funnel-building in this tough times, as we can still send samples and get conversations going.
How are viewing this current situation? I am actually seeing it all very positively, as it has allowed us to sit back and re-focus on priorities and bring forward long-term projects that would have taken ages otherwise. Furthemore, we were able to identify amazing marketing opportunities and make some great brand-friends. And also because of people in their home-office, we are seeing that as part of our funnel building, we are finding it easier to get through to people now, as they are all glued to screens, again something which is an effect of the situation and before would have been difficult to get key decision maker’s attention. And in any case, I am a strong believer into serendipity and that everyhting happens for a reason. And also on a personal level, it allowed me to lead a more balanced lifestyle, which again reflexts positively on the business.
Furthermore, the world is now more conscious to sustainability and initiatives such as Stroodles, so this is definitely also a huge positive. I am confident, we will get out stronger on the other side.
Your wisdom to others? Partner up with other brands and do digital initatives together, as everyone is in the same boat and together, there is more power. Prepare and adapt for when we come out the other end, as great opportunities will open up. Use this time to check-in, say hi and be top-of-mind (without selling).
What will your main takeaway message be? We can adapt and get through everything and we really will come out even stronger.
Snap up some Stroodles
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