She's our Chief Operating Officer and a fifth-generation entrepreneur whose blood bleeds bourbon. Lucky for us, her background boasts both manufacturing/production and distilling — making her the perfect counterpoint to dreamer Lauren and doer Abbey. Let’s take a look at how FOMO and family influenced her journey.
What drew you to the no-and-low spirits movement?
On a personal note, I’d say Spiritless was born out of FOMO. I don’t want to miss the conversation, the next story — I want to be part of the moment so much. The natural thing to do when you’re in that situation is to sip a drink conversationally. But having a drink in your hand while you’re socializing is a safety net, not a solution.
On the professional side, Spiritless was born out of necessity. Lauren, Abbey and I all worked in hospitality and entertainment in some form or fashion. We were always solving the problem of how to offer our guests a great mocktail. To have a foolproof drink like an Old Fashioned, with all the flavor and mouthfeel of a bourbon but none of the bull, that’s what we were looking for.
Word on the street is that Spiritless was birthed in your basement. Is this true?!
YES! As far as origin stories go, this one is pretty fun. When we couldn’t find a product to truly satisfy that craving for a non-alcoholic alternative to high-ABV spirits, we asked ourselves, “Why can’t we make it?” So we did. We started experimenting with the science behind the distilling process in a very rudimentary way. Our first mini still was a popcorn tin and a piece of PVC pipe jimmied together in my basement! Over time, we refined our approach and the result is this beautifully distilled non-alcoholic spirit that everyone can enjoy. No FOMO.
And now you’re a no-FOMO-COO. What does being Chief Operating Officer of Spiritless entail?
My current job description includes everything from R&D and production, to cash flow and budget, packaging, process — very practical and tactical. I field a lot of, “Could we?” or “How would we?” questions. Philosophically, though, I consider myself a dreamer and a doer. You know Lauren, she’s an ideator, she lives in the clouds. Then we have Abbey: she’s very ordered, she lives in black and white. I like to spend some time in the clouds, but also look ahead and identify the potential problems and pitfalls, to ask, “How can we make this bigger and better and badder?”
Is that bigger, better, badder vision what gets you out of bed in the morning?
It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, it’s what keeps me up at night… especially right now, when we’re in scale-up mode. We’re building something new from scratch and there’s always a new crisis, a new change. But in many ways, that’s what makes it so exciting. We have the agility to look past all the different obstacles in our way. Being agile is super important in how we function as a company. It’s how we stay alive.
You’re a fifth-generation entrepreneur, so you have some experience in that regard. How does that factor in?
I’ve worked for start-ups in the past, but this is the first time I’ve invested in and launched a business of my own. I’ve definitely drawn on the lessons learned by my parents, grandparents and the generations before them. I knew coming in that it would be hard, gritty, all-consuming, but also exhilarating: the highest highs and the lowest lows. Yet while I have been privileged to get a lot of great input and advice from my family, I believe strongly that whatever destiny I want for myself, I need to get up and sprint. If you’re not sprinting, then what are you here for? There is no success in my life I haven’t worked my a** off to get. I just don’t know another way.
How else has your family influenced you?
My grandfather tells a story about balancing business and family. He said, “Your grandmother and I, we had good days and bad days. On the bad days, I could come home and make her tea, and things would be a little bit better.” He’d get the tea kettle, put the water in the pot, grind the tea, strain it, add the cream and sugar. It was a simple ritual that was also the ultimate act of chivalry, of hospitality… of, “I know you and see you.”
That’s so true about a cocktail, too, the ritual. “Can I get you something to drink? How can I make you welcome and comfortable?” I think that’s what drew me to the no-and-low-alcohol movement, the opportunity to build a ritual for the chunk of the population who doesn’t or doesn’t want to drink.
Does that mean you usually order it Spiritless?
I love a completely Spiritless whiskey sour. The egg white, the foamy finish on top: it’s creamy, it tastes sinful. My grandfather and dad would drink whiskey sours, and I can remember grabbing the little plastic sword they’d use for their lemon slices. It’s sentimental.
Can we wrap up with how you spend your down time? What are you:
Reading? I just read Untamed by Glennon Doyle Melton. That book shook me to my core for just being a human and how we’re conditioned as a spouse, business owner, parent.
Cooking? Whatever is in my Hello Fresh subscription! It’s nice, because it feels like cooking because you still have to chop, assemble and saute… though truthfully, my husband does most of it. I order the meals and he cooks them so I can have a little time to myself at the end of the day.
Watching? Okay, don’t judge me: To shut my brain down, I have to find something so dramatic, ridiculous or intense that I get sucked into the narrative and can’t think about anything else. There’s a lot of Criminal Minds and Grey’s Anatomy binge watching at my house between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m.