SWIG was setup in 2013 to produce and sell Amazing Hip Flasks
SWIG was born when the lightning storm of fate struck the electrolyte water of destiny, creating the wiggling proteins of inspiration, and I realised just how bloody hard it is to a buy a man a gift.
At exactly the same time, I was also struggling to find a decent hip flask. Most were either comedy items or valuable antiques, and both impractical.
So, clasping these twin problems in one hand, and a lightning bolt in the other, I forged SWIG: the UK’s first hip flask brand, dedicated to making the best flasks on the market, and perfect for gifting.
Starting SWIG however wasn’t to be an easy process. I took the terrible decision to sell anything valuable I owned to gather together the funds to move to London. Never was a greater sacrifice made by an Xbox.
However, help was at hand and the marvellous state of Great Britain and Northern Ireland stepped in. I’m an alumnus of the educational charity the New Entrepreneurs Foundation which trains aspiring young entrepreneurs. From that platform, I was able to pitch for a loan from Startup Loans, the government funding initiative.
In such dire financial straits, nothing but success would do. I needed money to buy Christmas stock. Needless to say, for a gifting company, December is the make or break season. So I turned on a bit of the Irish charm, made the judge laugh, and won SWIG’s first loan.
But, all was not to proceed smoothly from the government’s boon. In fact, SWIG almost met an untimely and brutal end worthy of a Sean Bean role in an epic period drama.
I had duly ordered my Christmas stock for a large Christmas fair. It had taken every penny from the loan to place an order with my suppliers and I was banking on the new coloured hip flask pouches selling well. However, the pouches took their time in arriving, so much so that they only turned up at the very last minute. Relieved, I ripped open the boxes to inspect my new product.
Of course they were terrible. Useless. Unsellable. As unsellable to the general public as a Miliband brother.
So I had no choice but to steel my fists and clench my wits and exhibit at the show anyway, minus any products, and minus any money. With only an excellent grasp of the English language and good old people skills, I managed to charm the visitors and sell SWIG. The pre-orders came flooding in and Christmas didn’t have to be cancelled after all.
More tribulations followed of course, once I spent four hours cycling to collect pouches for a show and another time I had to wet-mould pouches all night and exhibit all the next day - entrepreneurship is definitely not glamorous. However, SWIG did grow to a team of two, I hired a guy called Jonne to help with fulfilling orders. Rather unusually for a new employee, Jonne and I wouldn’t meet face to face for 8 months. Somehow, we made it work.
Plus, SWIG’s sales were beginning to pick up, and this wasn’t going unnoticed. The Goddess of Temptation fluttered her saucy skirts and spoke with winged words about investment, Dragons’ Den and exit strategies. I’ve refused no fewer than six offers of investment to date, knowing SWIG just wasn’t in the right position for negotiation.
The good news was that SWIG was starting to experience real problems, but those kind of good problems entrepreneurs want to have. The product was just so good, fulfilment was falling behind the demand. One highlight/disaster was a TV appearance on the BBC to an audience of millions - and my stock sold out in minutes. It was a problem, but a good one. Like a caterpillar undergoing an internal liquefaction to become a beautiful butterfly.
Since Spring 2015 SWIG has really started to grow. Sales have tripled in three months, the team has grown to 6, and we’re working with the likes of multinationals, premium whiskies, and ambitious new spirits brands.
Perhaps a part of SWIG we’re most proud of is our SWIG Society. It’s an exclusive club just for SWIG owners, their individually-numbered flasks acting as a passport. They send in photos of their SWIGs from around the world, from the deserts of Africa to the bush of Australia to the canyons of America to the spiritual home of Scotch whisky.
SWIG’s story has only just begun, I hope you’ve enjoyed the first chapter.