Open for Business | Part 2: The First Dance

February 23, 2021

What we have never articulated on paper is the 'behind the scenes' stuff of how we started building the service, putting the pieces together, and the stars that aligned along the way. So here it is, interwoven with an iconic quote or two slightly adjusted to suit the agenda. At least we're honest.

Pangolin Gin

Pangolin Gin was an idea conceived by Chris, a school friend of mine, born from a recent trip to South Africa where he had the opportunity to experience wildlife in a new and uncharted way. Chris wanted to combine his passion for the spirit industry with his innate enthusiasm for wildlife conservation. The apple couldn’t have fallen closer to the tree. Even more interestingly, the initial conversation was about what this new word ‘furlough’ meant, and had nothing to do with the pots we had bubbling away on our back burners. We excitedly agreed that it was a project we would take on together, and thus, we had signed our first client.

1. Have conversations - Tell people what you are doing. People are also doing things.

Now it was time to put our theory into practice. In order for this to work as a proof of concept, it needed to be as fully fleshed out a project as possible, so we put the appropriate time into ensuring that the process was as thorough as we deemed necessary. We had to cast a wide net upon what our service offering would be, and the suite of services we would offer. Periods of discussion and reflection were interlaced with concept generation and critical evaluation as the cogs turned and the oil burned. Ideas were created, passed around, discarded, developed, and gradually the funnel narrowed to an idea which symbolised all the things that Chris wanted his brand to communicate.

2. [Graft] is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration - Thomas Edison (kind of)

With a strong concept and a rich strategy, we were able to expand upon the ideas to further create assets for Pangolin Gin, which included illustrations, social posts, stationary, product photography, and even an e-commerce website, all designed and built in house, and all driven by the values set out before. The opportunity and the freedom to create all consumer touchpoints of a brand was something that was a gift in these early embers of the business.

Projects that followed in the immediate wake were more focused - equally as valuable in many ways, but not fully representative of the whole holistic service we wanted to offer. This is testament to the openness, creative license and long term vision of founder Chris, and more certainly definitive of the types of relationships we want to create with future partners. Another thing confirmed.

This was only further reinforced by the reception the product received, with Master Of Malt, The Gin Guide, and Not On The High Street all picking up the product for their own distribution. The final cherry on the proof of concept pudding was a Christmas feature in British Vogue for the new gin on the block.

This project and its successes meant so much more to us than just the buzz of an outcome being warmly received. For dooka, it proved to be the all important validation that we sought after. It supported our theory around the process we wanted to build upon, and gave us a project which represented all the things we wanted dooka to become, which we could use to start articulating ourselves to the world.

For Chris, and for Pangolin Gin - to be part of an immersive brand development project from scratch provided both an insight into a thorough and no-stone-left-unturned creative process (a key benefit for business orientated start-up founders) which served to better Pangolin Gin and any future project he may embark on. There's something to be said here about ‘left brain’ vs. ‘right brain’ and what happens when they come together just right, but that's another story for another time.

More importantly than all of this, Pangolin Gin gave us the green light to pursue what had previously been a hypothetical scenario of running our own design agency, in the knowledge that we might somewhat know what we are doing. So we took the jump, and dooka is now our full time job, and we’re enjoying learning how to fly in the freefall.

3. There’s never a good time. ‘Just do it.’ - Shia LeBeouf
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We learnt ample about ourselves, our skills, and our motivations, but we were also gifted the opportunity to learn about gin, and conservation, and the nuts and bolts of what it takes to get a bootstrapped start-up off the ground and into market, and with every opportunity that presents itself in spaces we are passionate about we learn a little more.

We want to carve our own little corner of the world, surrounded by good people doing good things, making positive change and challenging the status quo. Our first project was our fork in the ground and our message to any potential future partners was defined, and that is that we’ve landed, and we’re open for business.

Check out www.pangolingin.com for more information or pick up a bottle on Amazon, Not On The High Street or Master Of Malt, or direct from Pango himself