Arrowtown drinks produces alcoholic sparkling water infused with fruit flavourings, often referred to as a hard seltzer. The aim was to provide low sugar drinks that make a difference. We have two flavours, both of which are partnered with wildlife conservation charities. Our red berries flavour supports Tusk (African wildlife conservation), whilst our lime and elderflower flavour supports Sea Shepherd UK (Marine wildlife conservation). Both drinks are made with all-natural ingredients and do not contain sweeteners, or anything artificial. So, they’re a healthier alternative to traditional alcohol offerings.
We love your charitable mission. Could you explain why this is so important to you?
RS: Having graduated from university with a degree in Environment & Business, it was important to me to build a business that could be used as a force for good and as a way of making a real difference. We wanted to place this at the core of our business. The idea was that people could do their bit by doing something as simple as switching their drinks.
As a family, we had been on a safari in Sri Lanka a year before the launch of Arrowtown and got to see the magnificent elephants up close but also learn of the terrible figures relating to poaching. This naturally hit us hard and it only seemed right to partner with Tusk, who do truly amazing work.
When I was in New Zealand, I also was fortunate enough to have followed a pod of Orca which was awe-inspiring. However, again I was in disbelief that there were people out there illegally poaching these majestic creatures. Sea Shepherd are an incredible charity who directly tackle illegal whale poaching across the globe, so we are delighted to be working with them for our Lime & Elderflower flavour.
As Rob alluded to, we really liked the idea of using daily consumption habits as a force for change. Having read around and been inspired by companies like Innocent and Toms that set the standard for social purpose, we knew this was something we wanted to emulate in our brand.
When it came to choosing what our purpose would be, we drew upon experiences from our holidays and our childhood. Having grown up in the sticks in Sussex, our childhoods were spent outside so we naturally had a strong affinity to nature. With an awareness of the state of wildlife conservation, we thought it would be great if we could do our bit to support them in some capacity.
Highs and Lows of start-up life so far?
RS: We have certainly had our highs and lows. There was a period of about 6 months in the run-up to our launch which seemed to be a never-ending low, most of which was Covid related. We couldn’t lock down a production partner, faced national can and cardboard shortages & even had to change our name due to a legal threatening from a Russian vodka company!
However, we remained patient and have had many highs since. The first production day for me was the most special (emotional) moment. It all became real and watching thousands of our fully branded cans come rolling off the production line after all the time and dedication we had put in, going back to a brainwave in New Zealand in 2018! Very surreal.
JS: Like any start-up, we’ve had our share of issues and low moments. However, the saying the obstacle is the way really rung true for us, as what seemed like issues at the time have put us in a stronger position now. I’m sure we’ll have plenty more lows but hopefully, they too work out for the best.
Personally, holding and drinking that finished product for the first time was a great moment. Having something tangible to show for all the work we put in was a proud moment, particularly as it was a long time coming. Launch day was very special. Seeing the buzz on social media & locally was amazing, the amount of support we received from the beginning was very humbling.
What do you most look forward to in the business post lockdown restrictions?
RS: I am looking forward to people being able to enjoy our Arrowtown drinks in the social nature that they were designed to be, whether that is sat in a pub garden with their friends or having a nice picnic at the park! That is also me being optimistic that some nice weather is on the horizon also…
JS: When possible, it will be great to get out and about meeting customers. So far we’ve had limited contact with our customers, so it will be great to meet more people at events or when doing sampling. It will be nice to try to get in some pubs to boost our presence too.
A controversial one, what’s your favourite flavour?
RS: I generally switch between them depending on the occasion and mood but I am swaying towards red berries currently, we are currently looking into new flavours to bring out in the not-so-distant future and they may well take the crown.
JS: It’s got to be red berries for me. Whilst I swap between both, the red berries is my go-to. That being said, I love the design of the lime and elderflower can so sometimes find myself cracking one just to have another look at the design up close.
Where do you see the business in 5 years time?
RS: Hopefully Arrowtown drinks will be a household name within the UK (who knows maybe even global!) whilst leaving a positive mark on the planet & working with some more brilliant charities.
JS: Whilst we try to remain realistic, I think you have to aim high with your goals. We’d love to be available nationwide in five years, as well as exporting to other countries. We also hope to be making a real difference to our charity partners and be in a position to take more steps to reduce our impact on the planet by becoming B-Corp certified. We’re a long way off but who knows what can happen in five years?