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Arts + Lifestyle

From The Desk Of… Natasha Durling

Whilst the past 18 months of intermittent lockdown living has negatively impacted many small businesses, it’s also created a breeding ground for a crop of innovative new brands, one such being Lockdown Liquor & Co..

Natasha Durling and her husband Jack were just pausing for breath – having long served as Founder and Global Director of Total Management Group – when the first lockdown struck. As cocktail aficionados, they started making small-batch cocktails for friends for weekly Zoom calls, and, just like that, the idea for Lockdown Liquor & Co. was realised.

What began as a fun initiative to raise funds for NHS Charities Together during the pandemic, soon spiralled with instant demand through organic word-of-mouth and social media recognition. Their small-batch cocktails, crafted by expert mixologists using the best quality ingredients, have since grown quite the cult following. Their popularity shows no signs of dissipating.

A daring entrepreneur, juggling motherhood with a flourishing business, Durling shares her career insights, daily routines, and what’s next for Lockdown Liquor & Co….


How do you start your days?

Generally I’m a very earlier riser – as I’m used to getting up early with three kids under seven years old. During the week, I wake up at about 6AM and have a quick scan of my emails and my schedule for the day before my kids wake up at around 7AM. We then have a military-style hour to have breakfast (a large cup of black coffee for me) and get the kids ready for school and out the door at 8AM sharp. Jack and I generally share the school run, depending on schedules. I’m usually in the office at my desk by 8.30AM, I tend to do an hour’s blast of work and then, three to four times a week, I will go and workout with my personal trainer. I absolutely stick to this routine, as I find it so therapeutic to switch off for an hour. 

What’s your go-to uniform?

If I’m training, I’m normally in my favourite Alo Yoga gear. If not, I’m wearing a good pair of jeans, with a simple structured top, finished off with a pair of high-tops. 

Describe your workspace/workplace

Pretty minimalist, since we went paperless as a company. I try to drink two litres of water a day, so on my desk is my very large water bottle and my PC. That’s about it.

Identify something in your workspace that’s special to you (and why)…

My team. I missed having them around so much during lockdown. I found it really hard to have the office entirely empty. I’m a people person, and I think it’s fundamental to the success of the business to spend that time with your team and have face-to-face interaction.

 

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What are your workplace essentials?

Coffee – and a good picante for 5PM drinks! We have just fitted out our kitchen area with a Lockdown Liquor tap which pours chilled picante on demand.

What time of day are you at your most creative?

First thing in the morning when I wake up and plan my day; however, I have come up with some good ideas in the depth of the night. I always keep something beside my bed to write these thoughts down as there is nothing more frustrating than forgetting a great idea!

What’s your go-to lunch order?

I’m a very clean eater during the week, so it’s generally either miso soup or smoked salmon. My team will tell you – and it’s a bit of an ongoing joke – that I tend to eat the same lunch for months on end. I’m a bit of a creature of habit.

What is the most rewarding part of the job?

One of the most rewarding parts of the job was to be able to give people jobs during a time of complete uncertainty. I also love watching my team have career growth and grow within their roles. 

 

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What did you study in school/university?

Psychology. I have learnt to have a pretty good read on people. I generally know after 10 minutes into an interview if that person is going to work well with our team and company. So far, it’s worked out well.

Where are you from originally?

County Wicklow, Ireland.

What first sparked your interest in starting your own business?

Myself and my husband have always had a huge interest in good liquor – especially tequila – and have always enjoyed making cocktails at home.

 

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Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?

I have so many amazing friends who inspire me every day. I think it’s so nice to be able to chat to them about the trials and tribulations that come with running a business, and I’m inspired daily by so many wonderful business people.

What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?

Don’t take everything at face value, and trust your gut. I think this year has taught us so much, but mainly that anything is possible. Also, know who is in your camp through the tough times.

A career highlight…

We just signed a distribution deal which will see Lockdown Liquor start to be rolled out nationally. I think from having our entire family helping us squeeze limes, to then see the brand where it is today, was certainly a pinch-me moment for us.

What is the cocktail you are most proud of?

That’s a tough one! It’s hard to ignore some of our founding cocktails that helped put us on the map, but I think it was curating our latest blend – the Island Punch – where we partnered up with the iconic Mount Gay rum. 

 

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The best advice you’ve ever received…

I learnt early on that you can’t do it all yourself. Someone once told me that there is no weakness in asking for help or advice. I now have the most amazing and supportive leadership team. That’s the key to success: build a leadership team who share your vision and accept that many will be far more skilled in certain areas than you will ever be. 

What are you working on right now?

We have a number of exciting things in the pipeline which will see Lockdown Liquor really propel into that next phase, which covers a number of new distribution channels alongside new products, partnerships, and also format offerings, including draught cocktails. Big things are coming!

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