Londoners George Chattey and Owen Petty believe they’ve created a new drinks category after launching their product at London Pride 2019.
The duo, both 27, launched new ‘Craft-Pop’ drink LuvJus as a viable alternative to the beers, ciders and everyday spirits on sale in bars, pubs and clubs.
George and Owen have been each other’s wingman and partners in crime on the London gay scene for years. When they took a trip to Tel Aviv Pride in 2016, little did they know that’s where the LuvJus story would begin.
Shocked at the lack of drinks choice, the pair hatched a plan.
George said: “The market consisted of expensive drinks which were full of sugar or unhealthy additives. Where were the healthier options? Where were the drinks for people who didn’t enjoy beer or $20 Vodka Red Bulls?
“Lying on the beach, on one particularly hungover morning, we chatted about this gap in the market and how we should create something. We also spoke about how special we felt Pride was. Pride brings communities together to celebrate their differences, and we wanted to capture this within our brand. This is where the idea came to become an LGBTQ+ brand inspired by Pride as opposed to the modern trend of big brands turning to Pride for one month a year. We wanted our brand to be authentic and to help those that had inspired LuvJus and our friendship all year round.”
George already worked for a leading drinks manufacturer, while Owen worked as a screenwriter in film and TV. And after receiving a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp, the guys got to work.
Owen said: “It was a perfect working relationship. I could be as creative as I wanted and George, with his expertise, knowledge of the drinks world and business in general was able to put this into practice smoothly and effectively.
“Some of our great friends are Gini and Eccie Newton (from Karma Cans). They had been on the Virgin StartUp scheme and strongly recommended it. The mentoring had been invaluable to them, so we soon realised this was our way forward. One advantage of this loan was that we didn’t have to give up a percentage of our company in return for investment.
“We feel we have been innovative and created a new category of drink; ‘Craft-Pop’. Every category within the drinks market has a craft variant, so why not the Alco-pop category as well? On the bar, all that is available on tap is beer and cider which alienates a large proportion of drinkers, particularly women, who want something lighter.”
LuvJus is made from pineapple, mint, Korean ginseng, jasmine and vodka and is served on draught. It has no added sugar, is vegan-friendly, gluten-free and low in calories.
It launched at London Pride in July, through a series of brand partnerships with Mulberry, Monzo and Second Home. But although they want their brand to be synonymous with Pride, George and Owen want it to have an all-year-round pull and plan to give 5% of all profits back to the LGBTQ+ community.
George said: “Our aim is to make LuvJus synonymous with Pride, in a similar way to drinking Guinness on St Patricks Day. Pride marks an important date in our calendar, but we hope to have the support of companies, bars and personalities throughout the year. The support of LGBTQ+ communities is of importance all year round, not just one day a year.
“LuvJus will offer consumers something more than just a drink. We plan to build a community around the brand and bring people from all walks of life together. We will create a social platform for the LGBTQ+ community by organising and supporting events in which our grassroots feature heavily.”
Offering advice as a new business founder, Owen added: “The key is to start small as your product will inevitably change. You need to listen to feedback but stay true to your core beliefs. Also, things go wrong, but it’s about how you pick yourselves up and deal with these problems which is ultimately going to decide if your business will succeed or not.”
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