Dutch twins Joyce and Raissa de Haas founded premium mixer brand Double Dutch in 2015 after securing an initial investment to develop their first two flavour. Fast forward five years and these 27-year-old twins now sell 750,000 products a month from a 10-strong range, available in 26 markets around the world.WATCH ON IGTV HERE
When we were eighteen, we moved to Belgium for university and always threw lots of parties for our friends. The deal was that they would bring the gin and other spirits and we would always make sodas to go with them in our kitchen. We’d experiment with different fruits and herbs and put them into big jars for everyone to try.
After graduating, we then started working in banking and soon realised that it wasn’t what we wanted to do. We were craving a much more creative career, which is what led us to move to London to study Technology Entrepreneurship at University College London (UCL). It was here that we decided to focus our dissertation on the evolution of the drinks industry and noticed how the spirits industry was becoming so much more developed, but the mixer market was being left behind.
We knew that we wanted to do something about this so we devoted our year at UCL to delving deeper into the mixer market and subsequently won the UCL Bright Ideas Award for most promising start-up. This gave us the initial cash investment and a year’s worth of office space in London which enabled us to start Double Dutch. And it took off from there!
It’s great, not only are we sisters but we’re each other’s best friends, which means that we are always there to support each other. We understand that playing to our strengths is really important and key to success, which is why Joyce focuses on finance and operations and I focus on sales and marketing.
We are always there to help one another or give the other person advice, so it’s great to have that sounding board. We also trust each other 100% and because we’re sisters, we’re able to have open and honest conversations, there’s no need to tip-toe around each other. That’s definitely a big benefit of being so close!
We’ve definitely realised that you absolutely 100% have to be passionate about what you are doing. It’s not always plain sailing and there can be lots of long hours and challenges along the way, so you have to be passionate about your business in order to make it through. You get so many ‘no’s’ before you get your first ‘yes’, so it’s really important to believe in what you are doing.
Also, you don’t have to achieve perfection the first time around, just keep pushing and moving forward. When we initially launched we knew the product wasn’t 100% finished, we knew our labels needed improvement, but we had to launch in order to start selling, as let’s face it, London is super expensive to live in and ultimately we had to make money!
This enabled us to gain feedback from customers and adapt things accordingly, which was really helpful and helped us to make the product much better. When you’re a small business and just starting out, you’ll find that customers are very forgiving of your mistakes. As long as you can show you’re taking on feedback and working to improve things, you’ll generally find they are very supportive.
One thing that we’ve learned is super important is networking and building the people around you that can support you and your business. You can have a great concept or a great product, but ultimately you need to get out there and meet people that can introduce to you to other people. After all, there may be a million other products available, but people will always buy into people and sometimes it can be easy to forget the importance of that.
Knowing the right people, having the right mentors and having a great support network around you are priceless!
Social media is really important and useful and has helped to make the world a much smaller place – there’s no one you can’t reach thanks to the power of social! From using Instagram to build awareness of your product and engage with consumers, to using LinkedIn to build your network and seek investment for your business – the possibilities are endless! We actually sourced all of our first investors by approaching people on LinkedIn, so never underestimate the power of social media.
First of all, it can be helpful to start noting down what you are looking for in a mentor. What areas or skills do you want to develop and who is best placed to help with this. Then it’s a case of literally telling everyone in your network that you’re seeking mentor, including sharing it on LinkedIn. The likelihood is that someone in your network will be able to recommend someone and may be able to introduce you. It’s also worth reaching out to industry bodies or government groups, as they can often help too.
Always trust your gut instinct, as the chances are it’s probably right! Surround yourself with the right team of people and make sure you plan for the future and not just the ‘now’.
Surrounding yourself with a great team that can help to bring your spirits up when you’re having a tough day is really important, that’s one of the positives of having a Co-Founder, we’re always there to help give each other a sense of perspective. It makes the hard days easier and the good days even better!
There are so many fantastic support groups out there for female entrepreneurs, so sign up to these and surround yourself with other inspiring females that you can learn from and support. It’s really important that we all support each other as that’s one way that we can help to drive change. The good news is that things are becoming much better for female entrepreneurs and we are being taken much more seriously.
The government has pledged to double the number of female entrepreneurs in the UK by 2030, so it is high on the priorities list and there is support available. Initiatives like BLOOM Passion Projects, which we are thrilled to be a part of, are also a great way of getting your talent noticed, while at the same time building your network and accessing free training. The fact that they are also giving away vital funding is also a great reason to get involved, as if it wasn’t for the funding and support we received from UCL, who knows if we’d be where we are today.
Our competition is now open and we’re giving budding entrepreneurs the chance to win £20,000 grand prize so they can take their Passion Project to the next level. Read more about it here and click here to apply to the competition. Please ensure you’ve read the Terms and Conditions carefully before applying.