Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in a non-profit organization but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Emily Ritchie, executive director of Northwest Cider Association, located in Portland, Oregon, USA.

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

I run the Northwest Cider Association. We're a nonprofit trade organization working to move the hard cider category from niche to mainstream. Cider is one of the oldest drinks in the world and is experiencing a renaissance here in the Pacific Northwest, where we have nearly 200 cideries that formed in the past decade. We support our member cideries in growing their sales and improving quality while fostering community among this young industry. Part of how we do that is through the Northwest Cider Club. Club members enjoy quarterly shipments of perfectly picked, carefully curated ciders made in the Northwest, the heart of the craft cider movement. Craft cider can be hard to find, but the NW Cider Club makes it easy as we ship to 35+ states.

Tell us about yourself

I love working with entrepreneurs every day, especially people who care about good food and drinks. I really love my position as Director because I can make my own hours and choose my team members, working with a core team of women who make magic happen. We came up with the idea for the NW Cider Club in May 2020 when the world was shut down, and access to craft beverages was especially hard. Even if you love supporting local and drinking crafts, the access piece was so hard, so we came up with an easy solution!

What's your biggest accomplishment?

Launching a first of its kind, multi-brand cider club in the middle of a pandemic is such a feeling of accomplishment. We're far from financially sustainable, but as we head into our second year of the club, we've just sold out of this recent quarter's shipment, and cider fans in over half the country can access unique, refreshing terroir-driven cider!
(I'm not actually a business owner, but sometimes my job feels like I'm running a business as we have to make our financials work out and make savvy business decisions, much like the cideries we work with daily. )

What's one of the hardest things that come with managing a organization?

I'm a younger woman in a leadership position, and the hardest part of my job is the ageism and sexism I face.

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

  1. Make sure you've got enough capital.
  2. Be nimble/flexible as you'll never predict all the hurdles you'll face.
  3. Make sure you've got a good social support system.

Where can people find you and your group?


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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