What is ohayō?
Sanam: It's a funny little drink we designed to help you feel better after drinking alcohol. You take it as your last drink of the night, putting back into your body the vitamins, electrolytes and other essential nutrients your body loses on a night out. The name means "good morning" in Japanese; drink before bed, wake up feeling good.
How long have you been doing what you do?
Douglas: About three years, but it feels like forever. This project has been a major labor of love for us. We came up with the idea back in 2012, and we had a ton of setbacks getting it to market. But about a year ago I quit my job to do this full time, and it's all been pretty amazing ever since. We're both so proud of this little guy right here.
When did you have your eureka moment?
Douglas: Sanam and I both moved to London from New York City about five years ago, and both found the drinking culture really different here compared to the US.
Sanam: Yeah, in both our industries there was a lot of mid-week drinking AND a lot of early morning meetings. So it was originally born out of necessity really. We started experimenting with different formulas in our kitchens, eventually hit on one that worked consistently, and started giving it out to friends and colleagues.
Why did you set it up?
Douglas: Sanam and I had always talked about starting a business together, and both really admired the kind of products that made you think, "I wish I'd thought of that!" So when friends of friends started asking us for the little drink we were making in our own kitchens, it was just like, "Oh yeah. This should be our thing."
Sanam: Also for me personally, as a perpetually frustrated advertising creative, I loved the idea of trying to create my own brand from scratch. As an advertiser, you're taught to make simple things, simple messages people can understand. But I liked the idea of breaking the rules and building a whole world instead, seeing who got it.
What would you be doing if you weren’t running Ohayo?
Douglas: Well Sanam still works as a creative director for Nike, so that's her other passion. I've been lucky enough to have such an incredibly diverse career so far, it's given me the perfect mix of tools to run a business. So if it wasn't Ohayo, I'd probably be running some other quirky start-up.
Big up someone that you’ve met along the way?
Sanam: That would have to be Sandy Tchilinguirian, our mad scientist in the lab. Without her, we'd still just be two idiots in a kitchen with a baking scale.
If you had a superpower what would it be?
Sanam: It would be cool to be able to travel to different time periods. Like to be able to take a vacation to Ancient Egypt or New York in the 1920's. As long as you could come back for like, penicillin and stuff.
Advice for other people looking to start their own thing?
Douglas: If you're going to start your own thing, make sure it's something you're genuinely passionate about, and that you're surrounded by people equally as passionate. If I didn't love the purpose behind this brand, it would be much harder working 80 hours a week to make it happen.
Sanam: I'd also say that if you're going to make something, make something interesting. These days, most products and brands look the same and sound the same. If nothing else, we should all try to make the world a little more interesting for having been in it.
What’s been your biggest achievement?
Sanam: It's a dumb little thing, but I think the design of the bottle is the best thing we've done. We had an issue with people forgetting to drink their Ohayo when they get home at night, so we had an idea to make the logo on the front a sticker. You peel it off and put it on your hand or phone or whatever as a reminder. And if you still forget, the area underneath the sticker glows in the dark. So when you get home, the bottle acts as a little beam of light, kindly reminding you to drink it.
Who would play you in a movie?
Sanam: Haha. Daria.
Tell us something amazing about the drink industry?
Sanam: Not to sound like brown-noses, but we've both totally fallen in love with it. Neither of us knew anything about the drinks industry before Ohayo. We were amazed at how supportive and welcoming everyone was. Not to mention it's been great validation for us… when people who drink for a living start using your product, you know it really works.
Do you have any quirky / OCD rituals?
Sanam: Haha. Doug's whole life is a quirky OCD ritual.
Douglas: Nah, nothing too weird. When we get bored in-between customers at trade shows, sometimes we freestyle rap about the people walking past us. That's not really a ritual though. Just two bored idiots.
Other brands you respect?
Douglas: We've met so many amazing entrepreneurs since we've started this project, this is a really tough question. One great one is Shaken Cocktails, Mark Jennings and the team are so incredibly passionate about their brand. Another one is Pedals, who we've recently partnered to deliver all of our London orders via bicycle. It's like Uber for bicycle delivery around London. Both very cool ideas run by very passionate people.
Worst day at Ohayo?
Douglas: We've had some pretty trying days. But the one that sticks out was actually before Ohayo was...Ohayo. We originally were going to call the drink Last Call and spent months on bottle design and branding. We were just putting on the final touches when I received an email from a friend in Canada. Apparently, someone there was just on Dragon's Den with a similar drink called... Last Call. It was pretty gutting.
Best day / achievement at Ohayo?
Sanam: There have been some pretty great days too. The best one would have to be last Christmas, standing in a huge factory and watching the first of bottles coming off the line. Even if we never sold a single bottle, it felt great to have actually made something. How many people can say they've done that?