When four friends and I founded our distillery (after sipping rye whisky in a sauna), we didn't anticipate that we would be selling hand sanitiser.
When the gravity of the pandemic dawned on us at Kyrö Distillery, we needed to act quickly. Half of our business was falling off as bars were closing all around us. It was clear that we’d need to announce 20% layoffs to survive the situation, unless we could do something with the freed-up resources.
At the same time, the price of hand sanitiser had been hiked up by 200-500% and hospitals and pharmacies were running out. So, we kicked off our own development of hand sanitiser – our mission being to provide health and livelihood, not to make a profit. It took us 14 days to secure all ingredients, design and produce packaging, get all the approvals and build a market for the product.
Your brand and values are really put to test when you’re forced to weigh them against financial gain and the Covid-19 epidemic has been that test for us. We chose to produce and sell the sanitiser at no profit, even though we could have sold it at a much higher price. The initiative saw an earned reach of 16 million and 4,500 people signed up on the waiting list – someone even made a meme of the prime minister holding the hand sanitiser.
Staying true to our values paid off. 12 days after announcing the layoffs, we secured a big client that made it possible to cancel those layoffs. In fact, we may actually have to hire more people. The hand sanitiser won't turn in a profit, but it helps get us through the pandemic, both as a company and as a society.