Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Monté Burrow, Co-Founder of Blackleaf Organic, located in Washington, DC, USA.

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

Blackleaf Organic is a consumer products company focused on sustainability, style, and celebration of the human spirit. We are product development and innovation-focused, creating eco-conscious products that seek to disrupt the status quo.

Blackleaf Organic Vodka is our award-winning inaugural product launch and is the perfect blend of premium and organic. Our vodka is carefully handcrafted in the heart of the acclaimed Cognac region of France, where the 5-stage copper pot artisanal distillation produces a vodka that is not only smooth but full of character for all consumers of legal drinking age to enjoy.

Tell us about yourself

I’ve been in or around the alcohol industry most of my adult life, working with and for some of the largest beer, wine, and spirits companies in the world. Additionally, I’ve always had a passion for consumer products and creating unique and memorable moments for people to engage and interact with brands. I’m also obsessed with quality – from what I wear to where I go, what I consume, and the experiences I engage in. So, when it was my turn to deliver a compelling product that others could enjoy, those values had to shine through.

Interestingly enough, I have a diverse academic and professional background covering engineering and marketing…two polar opposite fields. That said, my brand is just as diverse as my background. Although our product has a uniquely luxurious profile, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re all about laidback luxury and approachability. At the end of the day, we’re making alcohol, and it should be fun!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Like many who are reading this article, I pride myself on working hard, being accountable, and delivering, which I did in corporate America for two decades. Although it was an outstanding proving ground, I always felt there was more and desired to find a way to realize my full potential. I wanted to show up as my own authentic self, doing what I love to do from a position of ownership.

This is extremely important to me as I pride myself on being a people-first leader, and ownership provides me the autonomy to build a brand(s), business, and team with the values that I believe in. Moreover, I can be a beacon of light for some of the kids that come from my community to show them that the sky is truly the limit – just keep believing in yourself to achieve it.

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

Transitioning from corporate America to being a business owner has been different for me in a myriad of ways. Going from having access to teams of individuals (with big budgets) available to take on tasks to relying on extremely scaled-down support is different. You’ll find that you wear a lot of hats…in one day.

I can be a marketer, logistics specialist, PR rep, sales manager, and HR…all by noon. Ultimately, it’s a small sacrifice to pay for doing what you love and believe in. The reward comes in different forms – from hearing customers speak the praises of our brand to being recognized by stewards of our industry. Just knowing that we are appreciated lets me know our work is not in vain.

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

  1. Start. Don't wait for perfection. There will never be "the right time."
  2. Start. Do your research, and weigh the pros and cons.
  3. Start. Talk to some trusted advisors but by all means, start.

Where can people find you and your business?



If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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