Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Emily Lawson, owner and CEO of Pink House Alchemy, located in Fayetteville, AR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Pink House Alchemy is a women-owned and operated company that produces farm-to-table simple syrups, bitters, and shrubs that are used to sip, mix and cook. Inspired by complementary patterns in roots, barks, fruits, herbs, and botanicals, we work every day to find new and perfect connections between ingredients – and simple syrups, bitters, and shrubs are where we put these discoveries to the test.
Products are sold in our retail shop in Fayetteville, AR, throughout Arkansas in grocery stores and specialty shops and in restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in nearly all 50 states. Products can also be purchased through major retailers Amazon and Walmart.com. In addition to our three main products, we also offer dried fruit garnishes, deconstructed cocktail kits (change seasonally), and other swag, including magnets, t-shirts, syrup pumps, and more.
We are so thankful for our customers who have supported us through the years. While we have a large wholesale customer base, we have many customers locally and nationally who frequently purchase our products, whether for themselves or for friends and family. We love being tagged in social posts and having our customers share their favorite recipes created with Pink House Alchemy products. People can be so creative, and it’s such a great feeling to see something someone created with your product.
Tell us about yourself
I started Pink House Alchemy back in 2013 through the love of food and flavor, but the idea for the company came from when I was working at a farmer’s market in Fayetteville in 2012 and purchased my first bundle of lavender from Ugly Bunny Farms. At the time, I was a pre-med student at the University of Arkansas but was drawn to culinary work.
For me, the connection between the farmer and the consumer was powerful, and I wanted to showcase my love for the delicious and hardworking farmer at one time. From there, I made my first simple syrup in 2013 using the lavender I bought from the market. I have always marveled at how fruits and herbs and flowers grow and how delicious these things are when you pick them at the peak of their ripeness. My hope was that using locally sourced ingredients would be a good outlet for farmers, and the syrup could be used in a variety of ways. We ended up selling out of the syrup at the next market, selling lavender lattes and lemonades. That entire summer season, we tried all sorts of flavor combinations using different farms. We knew we had something special.
My motivation comes from my passion for learning and how things come together to make other things work. Problem-solving continues to be where I thrive and when I saw the opportunity for Pink House, I could plainly see that it could be something great. I’m also highly motivated by my amazing family. Lucky for me, I get to work with my wonderful wife, Kat Wilson, every day. She is an incredible photographer and artist, and Pink House has benefited from her beautiful photography for years. And our three beautiful children are always rooting for us to succeed, and we love having them in the office. I am also fortunate to have the most hardworking employees and loyal customers who constantly support us. I wouldn’t be where I am today without any of them!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My highest accomplishment as a business owner so far is the weathering of COVID and coming out stronger on the other side. The rise of COVID-19 at the beginning of 2020 was devastating. We lost 80% of our revenue, shuttered our business, and road out the first wave. I was pregnant with my son, who was born on May 19. So personally, managing the stress of pregnancy and the well-being of my entire staff was intense. But we persevered.
After shutting down, we put our heads together and came up with a plan. We pivoted and leaned into our online community, and they showed up in droves. Within a month, we were able to bring everyone back to work safely, and we hired a teacher and had Pink House Academy for everyone’s children that worked at Pink House, including my own. That was a sweet time. We are now trending better than ever with a whole new sense of gratitude, and I am immensely proud of us for that.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Balancing my personal life and my work life. Over the years, I have worked hard to create a work and personal life that include each other. I know this is not possible for everyone, but when you are creating your own business and policies, you are able to make decisions on the front end to protect the balance in each. This includes things including making space for children in the workplace. As a business run by mostly women who continue to outpace our male counterparts in the childcare responsibility, it is not feasible to expect there to no be times when a child needs to come to the office, even for long periods of time. This was the case during the height of COVID in 2020. I hired a teacher and allowed all company children to attend virtual school at Pink House. By reducing some of these stressors for myself and my employees, we show that we prioritize family balance. We also offer mental health days that do not count against PTO and prioritize exercise. It can be a lifesaver for dealing with the stressors of running a business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know who your people are. You need different people for different things. Surround yourself with a diverse group of people that can support you when you are in need.
- Get organized and don’t procrastinate. Keep a running list of important documents, certifications, and goals. Set calendars for these and check them off as they are achieved. In learning to trust myself, I have gathered the skills and tools to make the decisions needed no matter how large and then taking that action. Try not to let things live in the back of your mind stacking up an endless list.
- Be optimistic and enjoy every minute. If you are quick to see a solution and have a general sense that things will work out, they often do. Even with all the sacrifice and hard work, enjoy the process and be proud of yourself for everything you have accomplished.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Try to support small businesses when you can! When COVID hit the US in 2020, it was devastating. We shuttered in March 2020 after losing 80% of our business, all while I was seven months pregnant with my third child. I was so worried about my staff and how they would get by that, I was scared for myself and our children. It was some of the most intense moments of my life. We persevered, but not all businesses have been so lucky, especially the smaller folks. It’s so important to support your local businesses during good times and bad. We work so hard daily to create wonderful products for our customers and community to enjoy.
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 email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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