Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food & beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Spencer Hoddeson, Founder of Gay Water, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Gay Water is a canned vodka soda & lifestyle brand created by and for the LGBTQ+ community. It is the first ready-to-drink cocktail in the market for the community.
Tell us about yourself
I searched for a pivot in my life when Gay Water was conceived. In addition to my corporate 9-5, I moonlighted as an LGBTQ+-focused content creator. However, I was not feeling entirely fulfilled creating content and wanted to use the platform for something more left-brained.
I was on a trip with a girlfriend in Mexico at a bar, and she ordered a vodka soda. I said, "oh, you're ordering a gay water," and she looked at me blankly. I recognized an opportunity to bring the phrase "gay water," a colloquialism in the LGBTQ+ community, to a broader audience.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
So far, it's been learning the beverage industry - specifically the alcohol industry - with no prior experience. It's been a tremendous learning curve but an extraordinary opportunity. I view it as an on-the-job business school. It is a way to learn by experiencing it. Trial & error all the way!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, it's been juggling three jobs. During the day, I work in brand marketing for a big tech company. When that job ends, my second and third starts - content creation and running Gay Water, respectively. The hardest thing about being a business owner is trusting your gut. I find myself second-guessing decisions, but ultimately remind myself that I'm where I am based on my judgment and to have confidence in myself.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Advice would be to have a strong understanding of who your audience is.
- You can have a kick-ass product or service, but you need to know who you're talking to build a brand that speaks to them.
- And, with your marketing and comms, make sure you're talking with them and not at them -- it's not the early 2000s anymore. Consumers want to feel a part of your brand's community.
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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