Resources / How leaning on their label partner early on helped this start-up get their product to market

How leaning on their label partner early on helped this start-up get their product to market

How leaning on their label partner early on helped this start-up get their product to market

Duey Juice co-owner Nate Duhon came up with the logo for their rum-based spirits all on his own.

“I’m no designer myself. My artwork is chicken scratch,” he says.

But Nate could visualize it: a cheery, round citrus slice paired with thick, retro lettering. This concept captured the vacation-in-a-glass spirit of their fruity, premixed cocktail. After his partner Jordan Steverson, director of marketing, digitized the artwork in Photoshop, they slowly began building their brand.

He and his partners first developed the drink in Nate’s home kitchen during 2017. It was good — really, really good — so they handed it out to thirsty fans at a neighborhood kickball game. And everyone agreed: Nate and Jordan were onto something. They began dreaming up ways to take their drink out of the neighborhood and into the local Chicago market.

At the time, their label was their original logo on white paper. 

But as their business grew, they knew their label would need an upgrade. In 2020, they began looking for an expert pressure-sensitive label partner who could make their label live up to their ambitions.

Staying local to Chicago was crucial. They wanted to visit the facility in person and see the faces of the people bringing their label to life. Plus, staying local could increase cost-efficiency for shipping and materials. And since the team would need help adding the ‘it factor’ to their label concept, production design consulting would be crucial.

Of Chicago’s many label providers, only one had the presence, capabilities and reputation that met Duey Juice’s criteria: Pamco, A Resource Label Group company.

The fact that Pamco and sales rep Glenn Chelius could deliver broad in-house label capabilities ranging from value-added enhancements to a large menu of facestocks was crucial. And then, of course, the comprehensive customer service blew them away.

“I don’t want to underplay the impact that Glenn had on us making the decisions since he was very responsive throughout the process as well,” says Jordan.

In fact, Glenn’s guidance would help the entire Duey Juice team in more ways than they could have imagined — especially when it came to the regulatory and supply chain challenges of 2020 and beyond.

Overview

Amid distiller and global supply chain delays, a patient partner

The Duey Juice trio remained firmly committed to their original logo, but they wanted to elevate it for commercial retailers. 

“We had the basic concept completed. And then, what we ended up doing is we worked with Pamco to get that production- and print-ready and actually make sure that the formatting was proper for mass production,” says Jordan. 

Although Pamco is capable of rapid turnaround when the conditions are right, that wasn’t the case for Duey Juice. Their timeline stretched across several years due to setbacks beyond anyone’s control, including the broad impacts of the pandemic, distillery conflicts, supplier lags and more.

“The timing is tough because we experienced so many delays,” says Nate. “But Glenn’s team, especially his design team, they did a really good job of making changes in staying flexible with us.”

While Pamco’s flexibility was key, open communication was even more important.

“As we progressed through our journey of actually pinning down the components and the ingredients in our beverage, that also changed what was required to be placed on our bottle, which made us stay really close and connected to Glenn and team,” says Jordan.

A steep regulatory learning curve

In addition to global logistical challenges and delays, Duey Juice had another challenge: deciphering the complex regulatory environment for their product.

“The worst thing you want to do is complete something and then realize it’s not compliant,” says Nate. “It’s so heavily regulated — even the smallest error or the smallest sizing or spacing, you got 15 different calls coming to your business saying, ‘Hey, you got to remove this product off the shelf.’”

While they waited for movement from their suppliers, they turned their attention to compliance.

“It’s a lot of networking, research, a lot of reading. We had to take on a lot of groundwork, especially dealing with alcohol. It’s so many different rules and regulations that we have to abide by, and for a small company like ourselves, it’s like, okay, do we pay $8,000 for a lawyer to just tell us the blueprint and we wipe our hands with it or do we kind of hold onto that capital for other things?” says Nate. 

It was a lot of information. But Pamco directed the Duey Juice team to the TTB, which allowed them to take on the process themselves. And when it came to following those compliance guidelines on their labels, Pamco’s design team delivered a level of expertise they couldn’t have acquired on their own.

“They did save us,” says Nate. “There was a formatting issue on the barcode itself, the SKU. It wasn’t in compliance. There’s a white space needed around the barcode to ensure that the product is scanned properly.”

Without proper white space around a barcode, retailers can’t scan products. By catching the issue before going to print, Pamco’s design team didn’t just save Duey Juice from wasting money on misprinted labels. They saved the fledgling brand from hefty fines and jeopardizing relationships with crucial retailers.

“That was a big catch that they had on their end that we’ll give them credit for,” says Jordan.

“There’s so many different aspects that go into a label, especially one that’s alcohol,” says Nate. “I think that the thing that surprised me the most is just that everything has to have a specific place on the label. You can’t just place things where you want. Some things have to go on the front, some things have to go on the back, be X amount of millimeters. It’s so complex. It gets real granular.”

Production design consulting helps their label grow up

Even though Duey Juice remained committed to their original logo concept, they still needed to level-up their label for the competitive commercial market.

“We did a good job. It wasn’t professional grade yet,” says Jordan. “It gave us a concept we needed and it was good, but it wasn’t ready for mass print.”

This is where Pamco’s design expertise became crucial. Their first modification was sharpening the lines on the citrus round. This small step added more dimension to the logo and help it pop against any background.

Next, they enlarged the font for the brand name. Previously, it was set within the frames of the fruit. In the new rendition, the retro lettering is featured prominently against the citrus, which creates a sense of depth that the original lacked.

Thanks to their deep regulatory research, Duey Juice knew their new label would need significantly more information to meet compliance parameters. Pamco’s team provided guidance on the placement and font size of the ABV percentage, product category, company information, volume and more. And as their product components evolved — for example, during formula refinement — they updated the ingredients list.

They stayed in touch with Glenn throughout the years via email, text and even sit-down lunches. But amid the back-and-forth, Pamco’s most valuable service came from a virtual live edit with the in-house design experts.

RLG sales rep and label customers
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Resource Label Group’s Glenn Chelius, the Duey Juice team successfully launched Chicago’s hottest new beverage line.

“When you deal with a complexity of design and I email to tell you what I want, sometimes it doesn’t come out the way you describe it, or maybe the way you described it made sense to you, but it’s interpreted differently on the other end,” says Jordan. “We decided to just have a virtual live editing session where I sat with the design team and we were able to go back and forth on the desired changes and make those real-time. And the ones that were going to take a little bit longer, they were noted and then they fixed it after we got off the call. But it was super helpful.”

Eventually, Duey Juice upgraded their containers from homey glass mason jars to sophisticated, cylindrical bottles. And after viewing samples from Glenn, they opted for a sleek, clear BOPP label material.

“Clear BOPP is durable and moisture-resistant, and it provides the additional benefit of virtual invisibility. When you apply it, clear BOPP appears as if there’s no label, which lets their juice shine through.”

Sales Rep Glenn Chelius

That means the vibrant color of Duey Juice itself serves as the background to their sharp new label design. And to make sure the citrus graphics still popped against the juice’s colors, Prepress Manager Sue Fontana added an extra hit of white under the logo’s yellow areas to preserve its saturation.

After years of planning, their product was finally ready for commercial debut.

A final push to retail

When Duey Juice launches into full production later this year, they’ll rely on a co-packer. But to prepare for their initial retail debut, the trio once again took matters into their own hands 

“We had negotiated with Pamco that we would do a small production run on the front end just to have real life samples. Then we could go and get out to retailers who showed interest,” says Jordan. “Pamco did a nice job of assisting us when we had to start getting our sample bottles ready for our end-customer as well as for distribution meetings.”

With Pamco’s short run of labels in-hand, they could quickly bottle a small test batch of Duey Juice without worry about production delays from their manufacturer and co-packer. The process was stressful, but worthwhile and memorable.

“It’s like, 11 o’clock or midnight during the week with me and Nate in my kitchen trying to stick the labels on bottles and doing it multiple times. Sometimes it took us a couple times to get it right — but Pamco was kind enough to provide us with 15 more labels than we said we needed. That helped,” says Jordan. “And it strengthened our distribution negotiations with retailers.”

Drink in the Duey Juice experience

Whether you’re an established brand looking to revamp a tired label or a startup like Duey Juice preparing for your product’s debut, Resource Label Group has experience working with companies of all sizes across North America.

Most importantly, we’re not just a label printer — we’re a full-service label partner. We work with you to understand your needs and get your concepts off the design software and onto retail shelves. This includes:

  • Production design consultation — Add the “wow” factor to your concept with just-right materials, embellishments and production methods
  • Building in savings — From exploring facestock options to label sizes, we work to find ways to reduce spend by up to 20%
  • Supply chain protection — Minimizing long-term supply risk through inventory management agreements and strong business continuity plans

The first step is a custom consultation. Get a quote today.

Whether you need guidance or solutions, we help you make educated decisions for your brand.