Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dana Tiel, Owner of Sierra Cider LLC., located in Mariposa, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I’m the owner of Sierra Cider. We make hard cider with apples grown on our 4-acre orchard. Being so close to Yosemite National Park, we get travelers from all over the world visiting our farm to take a tour and do cider tastings, but we have a huge community of locals who have become regulars at our tasting room every weekend.
Tell us about yourself
People ask me all the time, “So, did you have a background in farming or cider making?” And the answer is unequivocal, “Nope!” My wife and I had always dreamed of living on a farm someday, so when the pandemic hit, and we were cooped up in our house in LA, we decided to make the most insane COVID purchase imaginable. When we found this 800-tree farm with a business attached to it, it was the perfect opportunity to not only learn new skills but also use our experience as advertising creatives to build the brand.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
When we took over the business, it was entirely wholesale-based, just selling cases of cider to stores and restaurants. We set out to turn our farm into a destination. Building our tasting room and our Airbnb rental were huge achievements for us. But our month-long Halloween celebration is where we really thrive. It’s one of the biggest reasons we wanted a farm to begin with; we just wanted to do spooky stuff.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Well, in our case, we literally had to learn all of it– how to be farmers, cider makers, distributors, bartenders, and tour guides. Even after we got the hang of all that, there’s so much troubleshooting involved. We learned at some point that something is going to go wrong every day, whether it’s a piece of machinery breaking down or the wifi at the tasting room going out. You just learn to roll with the punches and problem-solve.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Whatever you wanna do, you can do it. We dove head first into a business we knew absolutely nothing about. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing and zero practical skills. If you’re motivated enough, you’ll figure it out.
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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