Confessions of a retailer: Firebox
As drinks brands do more to stand out in crowded markets, the managing director of online retailer Firebox discusses his company’s alternative approach to spirits.
When was Firebox launched?
In 1998, by Tom Boardman and Michael Acton Smith, off the back of their shot glass chess set invention. Twenty years on, we continue to be an independently-owned online retailer on a mission to shake things up in the gifting market.
What sort of products do you stock?
Our company tagline is ‘not for everyone’, which should give you a good indication of the things we love. The alternative answer is that we sell a highly curated mix of unconventional lifestyle accessories, tech, food, drinks and gifts with a twist.
When did Firebox start selling spirits?
We’ve always dabbled with spirits, since our inception with the shot glass chess set. We have stocked unusual spirits, like Scorpion Vodka, for years but it’s really been in the past few years or so that we’ve started to grow our spirits range.
What kind of spirits do you sell?
Anything with interesting, innovative flavours, colours and concepts are our thing. We have also create our own spirits under our Mythical Tears project; we have our Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur, supported by Mermaid Tears Vodka and Phoenix Tears Spiced Rum.
What do you look for in the spirits that you sell?
Something cool. Whether that’s through concept, design or taste. We want to curate and celebrate independent brands and hard-to-find booze. Personally I have always been interested in spirits, mostly gin and vodka for their low-calorie advantages. Firebox is a young, social company – we go out a lot together, so we’ve always had spirits and alcohol as part of our culture.
Who do your products appeal to?
Our customers are like us; they are interested in new and innovative products, ideas and experiences. We like to swear, have fun and be inclusive, and our customers share our mischievous sense of humour. Our target customer is the 25- to 34-year-old millennial, but in truth we’re after people who are perennials too. If you’re into the Firebox ‘not for everyone’ vibe then age doesn’t matter.
Which is your favourite drink in the Firebox range?
Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur is my favourite, mostly because of the reaction we get for it on social media and in person at trade shows. It’s an iridescent gin said to be made from the tears of unicorns – it blows people’s minds. We have full-sized and miniature versions in three colours.
Are there any interesting products you have your eye on?
We are always looking for new and interesting brands to collaborate with, so we have a lot of irons in the fire. In terms of spirits, we will keep making more and more of our own products because we love it, and we’re surprisingly good at it!
What are the biggest challenges you face at Firebox?
Time, it waits for no man, or woman, or animal. Getting from idea to execution always takes longer than expected, so it can sometimes be frustrating having to wait.
What are the highlights of working at Firebox?
The people, we genuinely are like a family with all its arguments and love and laughs. I love our creative ideas and how good we’re getting at making them a reality.
What has been the secret to Firebox’s success?
The customers, we treat them as nicely as we can and they love us for being honest, fun and different. Thanks to them, we’ve made some massive strides in 2017 and I want us to keep up this momentum. I’m as proud as I’ve ever been of Firebox as a brand.