It’s not often that you see a woman making her mark in a male-dominated cocktail industry, let alone two women. We’re talking about Dutch twins Joyce and Raissa De Haas, who burst onto the scene in 2015 with their range of natural Double Dutch mixers and have even won the coveted Virgin Foodpreneur Award by Sir Richard Branson in October 2015.
The twins were recently in Singapore for the launch event of Double Dutch at 1-Altitude. We managed to grab a few moments with the entrepreneurs.
Asia 361: Bravo, ladies, for standing out in a male-dominated industry. How has the journey been?
Raissa: Being female twins is an advantage. People remember us. Being ladies leaves an impression and makes us more memorable. There are also some disadvantages; for example, people do not take us seriously. But when they hear about how we got here, in general the response is positive. There’s definitely more pluses than minuses.
Our journey so far has been amazing. We started in London, where they are more receptive to trying different mixers, given that there is so much hype there for the gins and also the other types of spirits. Our 2 bestsellers are the Cucumber and Watermelon and the Pomegranate and Basil. We focus more on the premium markets. In London, we are retailed in M&S, Harvey Nichols, the Intercontinental, and many others. In Singapore, we are stocked at outlets like Monti, Secret Mermaid, and The Summerhouse, and listed on Deliveroo and UberEats.
For example in London, the sales of our Cucumber and Watermelon Tonic are on par with our Indian Tonic Water, which demonstrates that people are looking for something more innovative and more exciting to pair with their drinks.
We’ve also just sold our millionth bottle of Double Dutch Tonic, which is a milestone for us. Our European market is growing, and now we are starting to focus on the Asian market. We’re very excited that Singapore is our first stop in Asia; and from the few days we have been here, we have noticed that the people here are on a constant look out for quality products. There is room for more innovative mixers, and given the established cocktail scene here, it is a great opportunity to market Double Dutch in Singapore.
Asia 361: What’s your poison (besides Double Dutch of course)?
Raissa: G&T with DD, or vodka. I also like a good Negroni.
Joyce: G&T with DD, champagne. All depends on the mood actually.
Asia 361: Fess up. Which of you is the evil twin?
Joyce: Raissa is the bossy one, so that makes her evil, no doubt.
Asia 361: If you have not won the Virgin Foodpreneur Award, where do you think you’ll be today?
Raissa: We won the Virgin Foodpreneur Award over a year ago; we got it quite early in our journey, and it lends us a bit of credibility to have Richard Branson’s name behind us. We got a lot of publicity for the win. What set us apart was that we wrote a dissertation on Double Dutch and different mixers in university. And with that, we won the “Most Promising Start-up” award.
Joyce: If we did not win the award, we believe we would still be at a similar point in our journey. But with the award, it gave us more credibility, and the awareness within the industry. And people are less hesitant to listen to us, and did not view us as a small start-up. Of course we are more recognized and considered to be more legitimate with the Virgin Foodpreneur Award.
And the advice and mentorship from the Virgin team definitely helped us a lot for our export into the USA.
Asia 361: So you’ve met Sir Richard Branson. How was he like?
Raissa: He’s very down to earth. So friendly, so amazing. He could not be friendlier with us.
Joyce: It was very inspiring to chat with someone who has had such a successful career as Richard Branson. And he’s very keen to help young entrepreneurs.
Asia 361: What’s next for Double Dutch?
Joyce: We will be launching two new drinks next month – the Ginger Beer with a twist and the Soda water, as there was a lot more demand for this in London and the rest of Europe.
We are also looking to raise some funds to be invested into marketing the brand and growing it into a global brand, with more exposure in Europe and Asia.