Speaking to The Morning Advertiser following the launch of Double Dutch’s new scholarship and mentoring programme for female mixologists, Raissa de Haas – who co-founded the award-winning drinks brand in 2015 with twin sister Joyce – explained that there’s still work to be done to address the on-trade’s gender mix despite recent progress.
“Historically, the drinks trade was dominated by men, probably due to the unsociable hours,” she explains. “This is something that we are trying to change by supporting other women in the industry through our scholarship and mentoring programme.”
Designed to help foster up-and-coming female talent through training, mentoring and financial assistance, the initiative will aim to create a support network for any women looking to enter or already working in the bar and drinks industry.
“We have some great female brand ambassadors on board to help mentor and provide support to other women in the industry. It’s important to recognise that there have been some huge steps in women breaking the glass ceiling into leadership roles, but we are still lacking in mentors to learn from and emulate.
“We need to encourage a new generation of female entrepreneurs and offer them guidance and support, as well as vocal male advocates for women in business and vocal female role models that can share how they have taken ideas to grow their own brands.
“Women are now less hesitant about starting their own business because working patterns have become more flexible. I really believe the world is changing and women have more opportunity now to combine an ambitious career with for example having a family. We look forward to seeing the next batch of young female entrepreneurs growing their own businesses.”
Premium spirits deserve premium, flavourful partners
“The idea for Double Dutch started to take shape when we were students at the University of Antwerp,” de Haas explained. “We regularly threw parties and always encouraged friends to bring different spirits for which we would create our own mixers with ingredients we could easily source.
“We started making our own mixers after becoming more and more frustrated by the fact that while the choice and quality in spirits kept growing, the mixers designed to accompany the spirits remained bland and unexciting.
“Premium spirits deserve premium, flavourful partners, and if you prefer not to drink alcohol, then you should be able to savour not just sip your drink.”
Now stocked in more than 4,000 pubs and bars across the UK, Double Dutch currently sells more than 1m bottles per month across 25 countries from the US to Singapore.
As the business approaches the 50m bottle mark, de Haas, who was recognised by Forbes 30 Under 30 and Richard Branson, along with her sister, explains that the pair have recently opened production plants in Europe and South Africa and are striving towards going carbon neutral.
“There are so many hurdles to overcome when you are starting your own business, but it’s all about trial and error.
“The hardest thing is saying ‘no’ to opportunities that might look great but are unfeasible due the amount of work and/or cost. This can be from saying no to big customers who are not quite the right target audience or balancing an innovative product line with quality over quantity.
“Finding the right people to fit into our Double Dutch family while we double our sales team is currently one of the biggest challenges. Building the perfect team, who of whom share our vision for long-term growth takes time and this is always in short supply.”
Proud part of the movement
According to de Haas, the sisters have been inspired by a mixture of companies and people since the company launched in 2015.
“We love to look at Heineken and see what they are doing because we relate to their fiercely independent spirit and passion for their product,” she explains.
“Apart from the big brands, we also love people and companies that are focused on what the consumer needs. The Soho House team, for example, have created such a strong brand identity and created a lifestyle brand. We love the way that the Epicurean Group provide experiences that keep their customers engaged and coming back.
“Ewan Venters, the CEO of Fortnum & Mason, is also an inspiration as he has guided one of the most iconic retailers into record sales and profits, as well as expanding the brand globally.”
De Haas adds that a number of women from the drinks sector have played a vital role in Double Dutch’s success.
“We couldn’t exist in the drink sector without paying homage the amazing women in this space, such as Anna Sebastian, bartender at Artesian, London; Camille Vidal, founder of La Maison Wellness, London; Jo Last, senior bartender at Beaufort Bar at the Savoy, London; and Tess Posthumus, bar owner and bartender at Flying Dutchman Cocktails in Amsterdam.
“It’s great to see women making their mark in the industry, and we are proud to be part of this movement with our recently launched Double Dutch scholarship and mentoring programme, designed to encourage and offer support to up-and-coming female bartenders in the drinks industry.”