Entrepreneur and micropub owner Lucy Do told us how she was able to carve out her niche and flourish in a male-dominated industry.
Could you introduce us to you and your company?
I'm Lucy Do and my business is The Dodo Micropub in Hanwell, West London. The Dodo is a one-room, welcoming, community-focussed pub with no TVs and no music. Instead, conversation is promoted as the main form of entertainment. We showcase a constantly rotating lineup of craft beer and are strong advocates of independent microbreweries.
Prior to opening up a micropub, I spent over 14 years in marketing, which is obviously something completely unrelated to pubs, hospitality and beer! I always knew I wanted to be my own boss and assumed I would eventually become a Marketing Consultant, but my heart wasn't in it so I kept postponing the idea of setting up my own business.
How did the idea behind The Dodo come about?
I visited my first micropub in 2014: The Just Reproach in Deal, Kent. I was a typical Londoner on a weekend away from the pressures of the rat race and I just immediately fell in love with the concept of micropubs. Being in such an unpretentious, friendly and warm place made me think: “Why aren’t there any micropubs where I live? Surely this kind of thing would work massively?”
How did you manage to make the idea for your company a reality?
I was made redundant in August 2015 and that was the kick up the backside I needed to make the micropub dream a reality. My redundancy package allowed me to be a bit braver in taking the necessary steps to get The Dodo going, but I obviously needed some extra funding. Looking through business plan templates and funding options, I was led to Virgin StartUp and have since received invaluable support in actually getting set up.
Why do you think The Dodo is important?
The Dodo Micropub is important because it enables community. Patrons who have lived in the area for years and had never met anyone locally now have a network of people they would call their friends. They meet up regularly, laugh a lot and talk about the tough times together. From a simple conversation to genuine bonds, our pub (with the help of some great tasting drinks) enables the magic of human connection! This is something that I think is very important in this day and age.
How has your startup fared so far? What are your plans for the future?
It has been a solid first two years of operation, despite statistics that show pubs are closing at a rate of 20 per week. The short-term plans are to focus on growing the existing business, create more community events and continue to establish The Dodo Micropub as the number one craft beer destination in West London. I learnt a lot in year two after taking a step back from the day-to-day running of The Dodo, and now I want to apply all that I've learnt in order to get myself in a position where I can consider expanding to an additional site.
Do you have any plans for International Women's Day?
International Women's Day is one of my favourite days in the beer community calendar! Every year, women in the beer industry come together for an International Women's Collaboration Brew Day that takes place globally across participating breweries. This year's brew theme is Unite Brew and I'll be heading over to Wild Card Brewery in Walthamstow with a heap of other ladies to get involved in this year's festivities.
I'm really proud to be part of a community that supports women with initiatives like the International Women's Collaboration Brew Day and groups like the Crafty Beer Girls online community that starts meaningful conversations and enables women in the beer industry to feel supported and thrive in a male-dominated industry.
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