Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ian Blessing, co-founder, and owner of All The Bitter, located in Chico, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are All The Bitter, a lineup of alcohol-free cocktail bitters for mindful drinking. My wife Carly and I launched the brand in January 2022 and currently produce three varietals inspired by classics like Angostura and Peychaud's, but made entirely by hand with organic, wild foraged, and functional botanicals (and without any added sugar, colors, preservatives, artificial or "natural" flavors, GMOs, or alcohol). Our customers care about what they put in their bodies. They love good cocktails, but they don't necessarily drink alcohol. We're a small mission-driven startup focused on inclusivity, mindfulness, wellbeing, and tasty drinks.

Tell us about yourself

My wife Carly and I met while working as sommeliers at the 3-Michelin-star restaurant The French Laundry in the Napa Valley. Our professional and personal lives revolved around wine, beer, and cocktails until we had kids and decided to give up drinking alcohol—we've got nothing against booze, but it wasn't in the cards for us anymore. We quickly discovered the wonderful non-alcoholic options that have become available recently and were overjoyed that we didn't have to give up the ritual of a great beer, glass of wine, or tasty cocktail. Our home bar grew quickly to include non-alcoholic whiskey, gin, vermouth, absinthe, and everything in between, but the one ingredient that was underrepresented in the market was classically flavored alcohol-free cocktail bitters. With our background in beverages, hospitality, and our newfound obsession with non-alcoholic cocktails, this seemed to be the perfect place for us to make an impact.

What motivates me each day is knowing that our product makes people's lives better. For those who either can't drink alcohol or choose not to, sophisticated non-alcoholic beverages can make life so much more enjoyable. Being able to enjoy my favorite cocktail (a negroni) without booze actually helps keep me sober! For my kids and my family, nothing is more important. We also donate 1% of our sales to environmental causes and an additional 2% to support recovery from alcohol and substance abuse. That direct, tangible impact absolutely gets me out of bed each day.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Just getting the damn thing done! We conceived this idea in early 2021. It took a year of intense recipe development, followed by the steep learning curve of launching a business. We're career hospitality professionals—beyond actually developing the liquid and having a firm grasp on customer service, almost every part of starting and running a business is new to us. I still can't believe that we actually got this off the ground. I am so proud of how warmly our little brand has been received by the community, media, and critics (we just won two silver medals and a bronze medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition!)

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

It's nearly impossible to turn off your brain from business, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it takes a little mindfulness and effort to realize that not everyone is as obsessed with your business as you are. When work is over, try to unplug a little bit, spend quality time with family and friends, go for a walk, smell the flowers, and talk about something other than work. (Full disclosure: I fail at this every day but am actively working on it.)

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

My biggest piece of advice is just do it. That might be cheesy, and it's definitely someone else's slogan, but it's true. I've had so many ideas, so many businesses that I've wanted to start over the years, but never pulled the trigger on a single one of them. I'm not sure what was different this time, but I committed time and money right away, and soon enough, there was no turning back.

Next, and just as important, is finding a product or service that genuinely fills a need in the marketplace. You might really want to do something particular, and you might be able to do that thing really well, but if nobody needs it, then it's all for naught. If your business fills a real gap and you can execute it well, people will come to you. It makes things way easier.

Finally, work on understanding what it is that you can and should do yourself and what you should hire someone else to do. When you're bootstrapping a small business, it's easy to want to save money and do everything yourself, but it's just not possible. Determine what it is that you can do better than anyone else and do that. Are you competent in graphic design but not great at it? Hire someone else that can do a better job in a shorter amount of time, and focus your energy on the things that only you can do.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Starting a new business is easily the most difficult and challenging thing I have ever done, but also the most enjoyable and rewarding. If you've been thinking about it and are on the fence, just do it.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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