Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Aaron Ranf, Founder of Cocktail Project LLC, located in Portland, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I make super small batch cocktail/mocktail syrups made from fresh, organic ingredients for home bar enthusiasts and professional mixologists alike. I came from a bartending background and designed my syrups with industry professionals in mind. Not only do I sell my syrups directly to the many great bars and restaurants around Portland, Oregon, but I also sell them online and at my neighborhood farmers' markets.
Tell us about yourself
After a long career in the restaurant and bar world, l was ready for a change after starting a family. The late nights behind the bar and early mornings with kids didn't mix well. During the pandemic, an opportunity arose to teach virtual cocktail classes via zoom and the like. It kept me quite busy, just through word of mouth! More and more of my clients began requesting cocktail kits to be sent out prior to the class as gifts to their clients, corporate teams, or friends/families who were participating in each class. The kits included fresh citrus, a few syrups, garnishes, and bitters (everything but the booze). Pretty soon, I was sending out so many cocktail kits with little bottles of homemade cocktail syrup I decided to get legit and make it a full-fledged business. While I see a lot of similar products out there, I think there is a lack of high-quality, shelf-stable syrups made from real organic ingredients geared toward industry professionals. Plus, it's something fun everyone can enjoy at home, especially in the booze-free movement we are experiencing.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Just creating a self-sustaining business and being able to pay myself in the first year.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Besides keeping all the spinning plates in the air? Growth.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Start small, and don't borrow money until you absolutely have to. Making incremental improvements should be a daily exercise. Growth takes time, so just keep moving!
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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