1. We love StrangeLove! It mixes so well with Etota. How long have you been working with StrangeLove?
I sampled Etota today and must say I share the same sentiment. Yum. With StrangeLove’s extensive portfolio of mixers and soda’s, I am sure collectively we can create plenty of flavour packed, sophisticated and indulgent drinks to share. That sentence sounded like a late night shopping TV testimonial, but it’s true.
I’ve being working with StrangeLove for almost three years now. Being hired smack bag in the middle of the Melbourne lockdowns was an interesting experience. My interview went for 15 minutes on zoom. I was asked a bunch of very strange word association questions. And to conclude - someone asked me to do perform a slam dunk into the basketball ring hanging off my bedroom doorframe that he spotted in the background. I nailed the shot. I believe that’s the only reason I got the job - because I have zero background in drinks (I am however a very gifted mini basketball hoop player - fortunately).
My second interview was a little more extensive, but I believe they were mostly looking for someone who understood the brand, could handle the personality disorders within the business and didn’t need to be micro-managed every second of the day.
2. Describe your typical day at the office?
The StrangeLove office environment is very casual, we currently reside in a delapidated fixer-upperer style Warehouse a real estate agent would describe as ‘a renovators dream (if you don’t mind a touch of asbestos*)’. Last week they installed a roof. That was an exciting day.
This is so cliche and I hate myself for writing this - but there is no typical day in the StrangeLove office. Being a small team - we are collectively hustling to get a million tasks done. My officially unofficial responsibilities include (but are not limited to) social media, website management, email marketing, events, partnerships, marketing collateral, merch, brand management, packaging, content management, external agency management….etc etc etc. Anything that essentially falls under the very vague umbrella of ‘Brand Management’. Since our acquisition in early 2023, also add to that task list ‘awkwardly dialling in on long meetings full of acronyms I don’t understand’. We are not fully across the corp life just yet, but we aim to have the acronyms down-pat in the next 3-6 years.
For example - today’s to do list contains; sourcing manky (potentially haunted) old glassware from op shops for an upcoming content shoot, visiting merchandise suppliers, reviewing NPD branding and writing some SEO copy that I have been procrastinating on for about 3 weeks.
*Our office doesn’t actually contain asbestos - but you get the picture. And we did have a roof, it just wasn’t a very good roof.
3. Your top StrangeLove product and why?
This changes every day, I am very fickle-minded and cannot commit to a favourite. At the moment, I am really enjoying Lo-Cal Ginger Beer from a can, it’s so warming, spiced and satisfying in this perpetual Melbourne winter. But last week it was Holy Grapefruit Lo-Cal from a glass bottle. And if it’s Friday afternoon - Ocho Blanco Tequila with Lime and Jalapeno Lo-Cal Soda, I might add a salt rim if I’m feeling fancy and can be bothered to get up from my desk.
I also drink about 37 sparkling waters per day, which I am sure is more than the recommended mineral intake. At this point my blood is approximately 98% carbonation.
4. Love the StrangeLove branding. Who did you work with on this? Where did the inspiration come from?
The branding and tone of voice is my absolute favourite part of working with StrangeLove. Striking the balance of premium/personality/irreverent/modern-yet-nostalgic is a fun, yet challenging mix.
We work really closely with Marx Design - an award winning Design agency across the ditch in New Zealand. They are essentially an extension of our team. They just get it. Our approach is inspired by the past - modernised for today. Each product category we treat as it’s own sub-brand and we have bucked the trend of MAKE THE LOGO BIGGER! We let the design, quality packaging and liquid inside speak for themselves.
5. Can you share with us your background in hospitality and how this led you to StrangeLove?
My only qualification in hospitality is that I was once awarded ‘worlds worst waitress’ at a local establishment.
StrangeLove took a punt on hiring me, I don’t have a strong drinks or hospitality background. I came from creative advertising agency land and was looking to work on a brand I really believed in. The job ad was looking for a student - and despite my rigourous skincare routine and mineral water addiction - I was 32 years old and had been grinding away in agencies for almost 10 years.
What they were looking for - it turns out - was a personality-fit (this brand is run by a bunch of middle-aged teenagers and my sense of humour never evolved past 4th grade), and someone who understood and could emulate the unique brand tone. The rest can kind-of-easily be learned…gin goes with tonic. Simple.
There is (more than) enough drink and hospitality knowledge in the business already and no one is sporting a large ego. For example both our RND manager and Head of Sales bartended in some of the top cocktail bars in the world. All I need to do is snap my fingers* and say ‘oi…do some creative drink stuff with bitter lemon’ and voila, I have 7 world class drinks in front of me. I just need to make it sound interesting and look pretty and our work is done! I haven’t been officially fired yet, so I must be doing something right.
*I don’t really snap my fingers at colleagues, that was more for dramatic effect.
6. What do you like about Etota?
The first thing that came to mind is ‘balanced and flavourful’. The initial reaction is bitter but not too bitter, then gives way to the sweet undertones and the distinct hit of Grapefruit, grape juice and Rhubarb. Many non-alc bases aren’t overly satisfying and don’t hold up on their own. Etota I would happily sip on ice neat. In fact, I took a few cheeky swigs from the sample bottle throughout the day.
7. Have you noticed a shift towards mindful drinking amongst the StrangeLove community?
Yes, absolutely. We have seen that in the response to our Lo-Cal Soda range - which are designed first and foremost as an ‘adult soda’. The Soda’s are our fastest growing category - which surprised even us. We have found consumers are looking and are open to spending a little more on a sophisticated non-alc drinking experience.
8. Help stop our drinking from going drab - what is your favourite Etota x StrangeLove recipe?
Obsessed with the Salted Grapefruit and Etota mix. It’s ideal for when you want that real punch in the jaw to feel alive again. The salinity of the grapefruit mixer really brings out the nuances of the Etota Aperitivo. We would both know that it’s no easy feat getting consumers interested and excited about the non-alc category and a lot of brands are getting it really wrong. Pretty bottles, interesting branding and fresh, considered and interesting ingredients are the key - and in our opinion, Etota are nailing it.