Raised in the Netherlands, Double Dutch’s twin founders, Joyce, and Raissa de Haas, have a natural affinity with superlative drinks and excellent blendings. After all, they come from the birthplace of gin!
But their love affair turned to frustration. While the world’s choice of spirits has continued to grow, mixers and sodas have remained bland … less of a twin, more of a shadow.
Double Dutch is the result of this love affair – uniting great spirits with complementary mixers that enliven and enhance. Richard Branson supported the Double Dutch vision by giving the twins a Foodpreneur award for their innovative Food and Beverage brand.
From the world’s best mixologists through to those who prefer their G&T on the sofa at home, the Double Dutch twins have created revolutionary mixers to intensify enjoyment of spirits, or to be drunk solo.
Hey Joyce and Raissa, can you introduce yourselves to us?
We are Joyce & Raissa de Haas, we are identical twins, born in the Netherlands.
Can you take us through your journey to where you both are now?
Wow, where to begin, we were born in the Netherlands, our family home was actually a wine and spirits store which is where our love for fine quality spirit came from. Skipping forward a few years we both decided to study finance at Antwerp University, after six months of working in finance we decided to give it all up and move to London with the goal to start our own company. Four years later and we are going from strength to strength.
What is a day in the life of you like?
We both tend to get up early and head into the office for 8am, we like to get in first to great everyone and catch up with all our staff. Each day is very different for us but we always allow time to catch up with each other and the rest of our staff. Most days of the week we will leave the office around 6pm and either head out for a nice dinner in Soho, check out the latest bar and restaurants, always home early ready for the next day. We work really hard to ensure we have a positive work/life balance to keep our minds fresh and focused.
How did you launch Double Dutch Drinks?
Double Dutch launched after winning the Young Entrepreneur award at UCL, after studying degrees in Tech Entrepreneurship we decided to launch a premium tonic company, we changed our dissertation and as a result, won the award for best dissertation and the prize was the money to fund our first production and that was that! Double Dutch was born.
Can you tell us more about the concept of Double Dutch Drinks?
The concept is very simple, the perfect twin for your mixer. When we were at University we would always invite our friends over for parties, we would make the mixers and they would bring the spirits. During this time we identified all the wonderful flavours being used in spirits and realised a gap in the market for flavoured tonics, to bring out the best in the spirits.
How has the support of Richard Branson helped to accelerate the growth of Double Dutch Drinks?
Richard Branson support was unbelievable, not only the extra funding to help us grow but the support and recognition of such a great businessman! It has really helped us believe in both ourselves and our product.
Who does the team involve at Double Dutch Drinks?
We have a wonderful team around us which is growing every day. There is currently 16 of us and we are always looking to expand to bring in new people to help us grow. We currently have a number of departments ranging in, marketing, finance, sales, retail, and export!
As Double Dutch Drinks continue to grow, what important factors are considered when looking at the scalability of the business model?
The most important factor is our staff! Ensuring as we grow the size of the business they are growing with us, we also need to ensure we are supporting our customers, specially those loyal to us from the start, we also have to look after the quality of the product, ensuring we have the same great flavour using 100% natural ingredients.
Where can you see Double Dutch Drinks within the next 3-5 years?
Everywhere. We would love to see the brand in as many bars and restaurants as possible, we are also looking to secure a major retailer to help get Double Dutch into peoples homes.
How are you planning to expand further?
We are always looking for new markets to go into internationally, and we are always developing new flavours, so watch this space!
Can you tell us what areas you have struggled in professionally?
To be honest most of them at some point, when we first started!
Have you ever had any other mentor? If so how has this benefitted you to grow?
We have a brilliant group of investors who are mainly from the hospitality industry who we can always rely on for advice.
What outlets do use to market Double Dutch Drinks?
A variety of different outlets, we love to use gastropubs as they tend to use us in simple serves which really let the flavours shine! We enjoy seeing our products in cocktail bars and what drinks they can make using our tonics.
Which methods are you using to build your own support network?
We support each other, we started this together and I couldn’t imagine working with anyone else other than my sister.
What do you believe are the common misconceptions about being an entrepreneur?
That you get to sleep!
What would you like to see changed for millennials in business?
Support, one of the hardest things we found is getting the information we needed when dealing with big companies, they would always expect us to know everything, we need to cut the red tape and be more flexible when supporting startups and entrepreneurs.
What is the best piece of advice you have received to date?
Focus on your personal life as well as your business life, if you don’t have a good balance you will fail in both.
What is the number 1 critical lesson you have learned in your career so far?
Surround yourself with people you trust and can be honest with you and want your business to grow.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
Always make time for the important things in your life, all the rest is added extras.
The highlight of Double Dutch Drinks so far?
Winning the Class Magazine Award for ‘Bartenders Choice’, it is always great to get positive feedback from your target market.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
Customer reviews, we love hearing when customers love our tonics!
What challenges have been presented during the growth of Double Dutch Drinks?
All of them! You name it we have had to deal with it, it’s not always about the destination during the climb.
Which other leading entrepreneurs and pioneering game changers do you also admire and why?
Hemsley & Hensley we love the brand they have created for themselves and the work they are doing around healthy eating.
How would you say you are intending to use your voice to educate others in the drinks industry?
The advice in every aspect we can, we are always happy to speak with young brands and share our stories and challenges.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
We read a fantastic article in the spirits business on the growth of Gin, it’s amazing to see how it has grown from strength to strength and it is fantastic to see we are in the right market.
What does your Podcast playlist look like?
We have some really random ones, we really love ‘No Such Thing As A Fish.’
How do you measure your own terms of success?
Customer reviews, the more positive responses the happier we are.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
Do what makes you happy, just be yourself because everyone else is taken.
Lastly, what is next for Double Dutch Drinks?
Finding everyone’s perfect mixer.