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'A bunch of five mates having a laugh and making lemonade!'

'A bunch of five mates having a laugh and making lemonade!'
Randa Abdullah
Randa Abdullah
HULLABALOOS LEMONADE
 

Posted: Wed 6th Jan 2021

With a pasteurisation machine called 'Louis Pasteur' and a trolley called 'Trolley Parton', fun is at the heart of independent still lemonade brand Hullabaloos.

What started as a side product on a market stall is now stocked in over 150 cafes and farm shops and is listed on Amazon's online store.

Co-founder Randa Abdullah Hucker shares the story behind her brand and how taking part in a Bootcamp through the Amazon Small Business Accelerator has boosted the business.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.  
 
If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

How did the business get started?

After my daughter was born, I didn't want to go back to work and put her in childcare. I had been working in marketing for Riverford and going to events. My husband Lee and I always fancied selling our own products at events, so we thought we'd do it.

We started selling cream teas and chocolate brownies with fresh lemonade on the side. The lemonade took off and in 2017 the manager of a local farm shop said if we put it in bottles, they'd sell it. We said 'yes of course. We can do that'. We thought it was going to be easy. Little did we know what was going to be involved!

We started pasteurising the lemonade on the stove at home. We don't have a massive house, so we outgrew that fast. We took over a small unit three years ago and then gradually built up the pasteurisation process. We now have a bigger machine which we could Louis, named after Louis Pasteur. We name all our gadgets. We have trollies called Trolley Parton and Trolley Murs and scales called Prunella Scales!

Our ethos was and still is something that is fresh, healthy and with no rubbish in. We've got young children and we wanted something we were happy for them to drink without any sweeteners, chemicals or anything artificial. It's real fruit juice with real flavours.

We sell now sell into over 150 cafes, restaurants and farm shops in our area. We also sell through seven national distributors and on Amazon.

What's the story behind the business name?

'Hullabaloo' means noisy and chaotic but fun. That's us! People love the name. At events, we enjoy watching people saying it out loud to themselves.

We haven't gone into this with a big business plan, it has evolved organically. We've just gradually built the brand. I think people like us when they meet us. We're quite colourful at events and our stall looks fun.

We've just launched a new website and the emphasis is that it's clear and crisp but fun and bouncy.

We've got three people working for us and they're all friends who we've known for a long time. We socialise with them outside of work. Basically, it's just a bunch of five mates having a laugh and making lemonade!

How has COVID-19 impacted on your business?

We would normally do lots of events, but we did hardly any in 2020. A lot of our customers are pubs, cafes and restaurants so COVID-19 had a massive effect on that. Farm shop sales went shooting up though.

We've had to diversify. Our new website makes the e-commerce side more user friendly and we started selling on Amazon in May. We've also launched some cocktail gift boxes with a local gin supplier. They're available on our website and on Amazon.

Hullabaloos

What were the benefits of the Amazon Small Business Accelerator Bootcamp?

We joined Amazon in May and I did the basics but I didn't really know what I was doing. The Bootcamp was brilliant because it helped me understand key areas like Brand Registry, advertising, campaign managers, keywords and negative keywords.

Before doing the Bootcamp, I didn't know that Brand Registry was a thing. Signing up allowed us to have A+ content on all our products. We're also running advertising campaigns on Amazon. We started with automated campaigns and we now have manual keyword campaigns. I wouldn't have done any of that without the Bootcamp.

Our Amazon sales are going well. At the end of last year, because of Christmas and lockdown, we had a big upturn. We're sending out quite a few orders every day and we're happy with it. In our plans for 2021, Amazon is a big part of our business.

How has the Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme helped you?

I've watched a lot of the selling on Amazon-specific videos to refresh my memory and if I'm a bit confused about something, I can go back to them. As the e-learning is split into bitesize chunks, it makes it accessible.

I've also found the videos about building your brand useful. We're really trying to build our brand so that side of things is important.

If we spoke to you again in five years, what do you hope the business will have achieved?

We don't necessarily see our products on the shelves in Tesco, we think there's enough of a market for independents or small chains to take us.

We are looking to export within the next few months. We're on an export programme at the moment.

Where do we see ourselves in five years? As a brand that people know and see as high quality with decent ingredients. We want people to enjoy our drink. That's what it comes down to. Our labels say 'made to make you smile'. Lee used to work in insurance and once upon a time, I was a mortgage consultant. None of it was very smiley stuff so now we just want to make people smile.

What are your tips for business success?

Just go for it. Don't feel that you must know everything straight away because you will never know everything and the more you know, the more you realise you don't know.

It's hard work and we've had years when we've worked really hard and not earnt much but it's completely worth it. We enjoy what we do. We're completely in charge of how we want to do it. If we want to do something, we can. If we don't then we don't. I would say to anyone, just do it.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.  
 
If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

 
Randa Abdullah
Randa Abdullah
HULLABALOOS LEMONADE
 

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