When Drink, Shop & Do began as a temporary pop-up cafe, co-founder Coralie Leap’s aim wasn’t “to make any money” but to see if her childlike, nostalgia-laden activity nights could make the transition from her living room into a real business.
Fast forward seven years and the business that became Drink, Shop & Do is a local institution, popular with hen parties and the brunch crowd alike, with accolades that include being named as one of TimeOut’s Top 5 Nightclubs in London.
We caught up with Coralie to find out about her transition from art graduate to successful business owner and the lessons learned along the way.
How would you sum up Drink, Shop & Do in a sentence?
A cafe by day, a bar by night, and with plenty of fun, random things to do at all times.
Can you briefly summarise the background to Drink, Shop & Do and what you did before?
I was managing an art gallery before starting Drink, Shop & Do. I did a design degree, and my friends and I had fallen into admin jobs when we all thought we were going to have these fantastic, creative careers. We started holding a regular night in our house that basically started doing the things that Drink, Shop & Do now does – creative stuff, but just for fun. It became really popular and soon outgrew my living room. We realised that there was a real market for this kind of thing, a real need.
Drink, Shop & Do started as a temporary pop-up initially back in 2009, just for three weeks in the run-up to Christmas. We negotiated the lease on the venue, in Kings Cross, North London, soon after that, based on its success and the great feedback that we received. We opened permanently in the middle of 2010.
What were the challenges around launching the business? Where did you find your time being spent?
Our vision for the business was that we really wanted to make a magical, escapist place where you reconnect with your playful side and break up the monotony of being an adult in London. The core of our brand is to be inspirational and allow our customers to re-engage with childlike activities.
The biggest challenge was, given what we wanted to achieve, persuading all the key people we needed to be on board to believe in us, as our concept was very different to anything anyone else was doing at the time. The aim of the pop-up when we first started wasn’t particularly to make any money, it was just to see if it worked, if people got it, if we could take these ideas to people beyond our friendship group.
How has the business evolved since your launch? Have there been any particular milestones?
We were quite young when we set the business up and we had this big vision about executing the space we had and making it work, but that was where our dream finished – we weren’t sure what our ambition was after that. So a lot of the time it’s been about re-setting as we go along and asking ourselves what we are looking for in our lives.
Opening the downstairs bar after two years was a really big milestone for us, and it felt like it was then that we were fully delivering our vision of the party side of the concept.