Meet the Maker – Demijohn
Demijohn is a deli with a difference. Its wooden shelves are loaded with huge glass demijohns of artisan liqueurs, spirits, whiskies, oils and vinegars, all handmade by small producers. The range is huge from Seville Orange Gin to Chocolate Rum, Elderflower Vinegar to White Truffle Oil and so many more. Customers are encouraged to taste the products and then can choose from one of the many different sizes and shapes of bottles. A personalised message can be added for free and there are endless gift racks, boxes and hampers available too, making Demijohn products the ideal presents. Best of all, Demijohn bottles can be refilled helping us all to be kind to the environment and saving our customers a little money.
For more information on how it all started, what inspires them and future plans, take a look at the interview below…
How it all started
Born in the summer of 2004 in Edinburgh, Demijohn is the brainchild of ex-Army officer Angus Ferguson who has always had a love of good food and drink. When he left the army, he and his wife Frances were keen to open the world’s first liquid deli, where unusual artisan spirits, liqueurs, whiskies, oils and vinegars would be on offer with tasting a key part of the buying process. Having spent 10 years in the army he saw many interesting places (handover of Hong Kong, Kenya, Kosovo, Germany etc), tasted all types of food and loved the interaction with so many people that the army brings. The discipline and hard graft of the army taught him many things that have been applied to the Demijohn business, most notably good teamwork is essential for success, working hard reaps rewards and don’t ever rest on your laurels as you don’t know what tomorrow may bring.
From these humble beginnings Demijohn now has a number of outlets around the UK with three main stores in Edinburgh, Glasgow and York. Demijohn also has a sophisticated online website which has been a huge success sending small amounts of a good thing around the World. In addition the Demijohn Events Team attend many shows around the country and is able to conduct tasting events for both consumer and corporate groups.
The creation process
Angus and Frances’s secret for building their unique range of around 80 products has been to develop many of their products quite literally on the kitchen table at home. With ideas sourced from their own passion and knowledge, and that of their Staff and customers, this has been a good recipe for product development. Add into the mix the use of their friends to help vet the product quality prior to final production and you have a brilliantly quirky, yet successful research and development laboratory!
What makes the brand and products unique
Demijohn was the first liquid deli in the UK and continues to lead the field in Britain. Its passion for handmade, artisan products, made by small farmhouse producers, as well as a very strong concern for the environment, makes Demijohn a unique liquid deli.
Inspiration behind the products
With a continual passion for fine food and drinks, as well as a desire to know the provenance, Angus and the Demijohn team are inspired by small producers who make drinks, oils and vinegars that taste delicious, are totally natural and have a very low impact on the environment.
The next projects
There are many more exciting flavours to be tried and tested to allow us to enhance our current food and drink range further. Our customers are increasingly interested in our range of fruit and balsamic vinegars, our soft drinks and also our rums. We now supply some of the top hotels in Scotland, such as Gleneagles in Perthshire for example, with our fruit vinegars, so demand is high. Our environmentally conscious customers are also increasingly looking for non alcoholic products that are more healthy. So behind the scenes we are working on increasing our range of vinegars and non alcoholic drinks, as well as developing new infused rums to grow that area of expertise. We are keen also to do more to encourage the ability of our customers to refill remotely.
Plans for the next 12 months?
There is no doubt that the UK has now changed the way it shops. Within the last 3 to 4 years we have witnessed an incredible change in the use of mobile phones for retrieving information and purchasing for home delivery, in place of visiting traditional shops such as ours. The consumers who do visit are enjoying engaging retail without feeling the need to purchase in-store. With these factors in mind, we plan to further our success online with re-development of our mobile website to make it as easy as possible to place orders on the move, and start a Demijohn club to allow us to continue to offer refills via our mail order department. We plan to reinforce the marketing of the business by increasing the number of smaller concession and temporary stores throughout the country.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers…
- Always try to sell unique produce, never be tempted to follow the herd.
- Create a range that allows customers to make their own choice about how much they would like to spend without you having to offer ugly discounts.
- Be sensitive to the environment with the materials you make your products from, so they appeal to the increasingly eco savvy shopper.
Any advice for fledgling businesses…
Marketing and quality of Staff are key to any business, whatever the size and the age. You can have the best product in the World but if your customers do not know how good it is they will be unable to buy it. Always remember, the secret to a successful business is hard work!
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
They allow us to meet wonderful new customers who are interested in our products. A little history. We exhibited at our first Country Living Fair in Glasgow in 2005, it was our first major event in our second year of business. We felt very small and it was a huge challenge. My tin of precious olive oil leaked in the boot of my car on route to set up and we somehow cobbled a stand together out of elastic bands and drawing pins. Over the 3 days of the fair, we met an amazing bunch of lovely new customers, mainly tweed wearing ladies, who loyally bought things. These ladies then went on to place more orders, visit our shops and tell all their friends to do likewise. We have exhibited at one Country Living Fair somewhere in the UK every year since that first fair, and don’t plan to stop anytime soon. This year we had a brilliant Spring Fair in London and are looking forward to Glasgow in November!