About Time You Met: Oliver Dixon, Co-Founder of Something & NothingBy Angelica Malin
Olly Dixon co-founded Something & Nothing in 2017 with Rupert Pugsley, following a career in culture, branding, hospitality and music. Something & Nothing was born with a commitment to flavour, better-for-you options and the highest quality. Olly combined his deep knowledge of brand, design and culture with his love of flavour and hospitality to create Something & Nothing. We chatted to Olly about the brand’s infancy years, advice for start-ups and the healthy evolutions of sodas:
What is Something & Nothing and what inspired you to create it?
Something & Nothing is an award-winning brand of premium sodas and spritzes made with the highest quality natural juices, extracts and botanicals for elevated refreshment. The brand was created with my co-founder Rupert Pugsley out of a desire to evolve the non-alcoholic space and innovate.
The premium sodas are available in (hibiscus + rose, cucumber, and yuzu) and three spritzes (4%) available in (Saké + Yuzu, French rosé + hibiscus & rose, and sauvignon blanc + cucumber). The drinks are available to buy online via Something & Nothing’s website, Wholefoods, Selfridges, Harrods, Shop Cuvee.
The inspiration for Something & Nothing came after Iaunching a pub called The Gun (on Well Street Hackney). The pub had been running for 6 months and I had been enjoying the delights of its taps, shelves and fridges with enthusiasm until I realised that I wanted to stop drinking for a while. I was stumped on what to drink and it made me take a closer look at the soft drink category and then ready-to-drink cans. I soon realised that the soft drinks and RTD market all needed disruption through better flavours, ingredients and overall a more elevated, grown-up brand.
My life and work has always centered around culture, branding and hospitality and Something & Nothing is really a combination of these elements.
Tell us about your career before setting up Something & Nothing?
My first role was at Dazed & Confused magazine in 2002 as the events and marketing manager. I then entered the hospitality world and joined the renowned Lock Tavern Pub Group in the mid-2000s. Over a span of six years, my work covered music programming, marketing, interior design and brand development, launching more than 15 pubs across the UK.
I also ventured into DJing organising the club night ‘Kill Em All’ and had a residency at Fabric for six years. It was during this time I set up the culture agency Margaret; a creative network and studio specialising in creative campaigns and communication. After a decade of agency experience, I became a brand consultant, playing a key role in the creation and launch of the Birch Hotel brand.
What is it about the drink flavours that excite you?
We wanted to make really, really tasty drinks using only natural ingredients. We had both travelled a lot and eaten and drank a lot of interesting dishes and flavours. So instead of generic soft drink flavours, we looked to our travel experiences. Our Hibiscus & Rose Seltzer is inspired by a drink I had in Sri Lanka, which was way too sweet but seemed interesting. Yuzu was a flavour that Rupert had tried a lot of in Japan and was getting used by chefs in London.
People have become way more adventurous with global cuisine, ingredients and flavours but this has not really been reflected in drinks. We don’t use any added sugar or sweeteners in our drinks and we use grape juice and lemon for balance then let the lead flavours shine. We use high-quality juices, extracts and botanicals to make drinks that can be consumed every day which feels like a healthy evolution for sodas and one we are excited to be at the forefront of.
Any tips for anyone starting a drinks brand?
Always look for inspiration outside of the category, that’s advice I would impart to any start-up too, not just drinks.
What makes Something & Nothing unique among other RTD brands?
The brand was always created to play in the alcohol and non-alcohol space. Just as consumers now don’t drink alcohol in bars and nightclubs or mix cocktails at home, the lines are blurred between occasions. It made sense for us to build a brand that could be respected and trusted on multiple occasions and experiences.
Just like our sodas we use very high-quality alcohol. Our wine is from a third-generation wine producer in the Cote de Gascogne and our Junmai sake is from Japan. We champion the alcohol rather than hiding or disguising it and it’s blended at full strength, so it tastes how it would if a bartender mixed it for you.
Anything exciting in the pipeline for the brand?
We recently started production in the US which will remain a big focus for the brand as the drinks are really flying out there. We will also look at launching a new soda next year and we will continue our partnerships with artists, makers and thinkers.