Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Genevieve Brazelton, Founder of The Bitter Housewife, located in Portland, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I started The Bitter Housewife, maker of Bitterly Honest Beverages, to show lovers of food and drink that the best ingredients make for the best drinks and that anyone can make a great-tasting cocktail or mocktail.
Tell us about yourself
The Bitter Housewife started simply as a project to write about for a blog I had at the time. I made cocktail bitters to find out if homemade was any better than what I was used to behind the bar. As you can probably guess, what I made was shockingly better, enough so that when I had nailed what I thought was the perfect recipe for bitters for my Old Fashioned, it was my husband who asked if I thought we could make a business selling bitters. My answer sealed my fate, "I have no idea, but we could call it The Bitter Housewife."
Once we started playing with the idea of making a business out of it, I got excited about not only bringing a high-quality product I was proud of to market but educating people about bitters, flavor, and making drinks in a way that wasn't intimidating or mysterious. I think we bring something different to the cocktail industry - a playful, accessible attitude that focuses on flavor and individual taste without judgment. Whether you love sweet, fruity drinks, only like the smokiest of scotches, or don't drink alcohol at all, we can give you the tools to make great drinks at home.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I created a cocktail bitters, our Cardamom Bitters, that was named Product of the Year by the Specialty Food Association. That means my bitters beat out chocolate, cheese, baked goods, and cured meats to be named Product of the Year. They only name one a year. I'm extremely proud of that.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
No matter your knowledge and experience, your main role as a business owner is to be a problem solver. Something is always not working as expected, or a plan is derailed by the unexpected. As the owner, it's your job to fix it, whether that means hiring someone with the right skill set, figuring it out yourself, or changing course. And you'll probably have to make lots of these decisions with only a fraction of the information you'd like.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you have a good support network for the bad days. Friends and family who understand. Peers who are also business owners to help you solve problems. And networks to ask for help and resources.
- Grow with intention and just fast enough that you can keep up, but barely. Don't take on that new contract or open up new stores because you feel you should, do it when you know you can manage it (even if it's a struggle), and it'll take you in the direction you want to go. There will be tons of pressure to grow fast and in directions that may not make sense for you or your brand.
- Always know your numbers. Look at them every day and be comfortable with them. What are you making? What are you spending? What brings in the most revenue? What might be dead weight? What customers are most profitable?
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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