Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rochelle Jones, Owner of The Boozy Mermaid, LLC, located in Charleston, SC, USA.

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

My business is The Boozy Mermaid, a product-based business that features custom cocktail shakers and unique gifts & gift sets for beach lovers. In addition to the cocktail shakers, I create cocktail-scented candles, beach-themed coasters, charcuterie boards, and jewelry. I use various processes in creating my pieces. This includes powder coating, resin art, polymer clay, cement, airbrushing, hydro dipping, light woodwork, and the use of other mixed media.

My customers are those that love cocktails/mocktails, beaches, and a little bling! As a bartender, I love the opportunity to create custom cocktail shakers that end up on bars- whether it is a home bar or a busy bar in Las Vegas! I focus energy and heart on every custom creation and appreciate every one. My favorite cocktail shaker creations are typically those that are loaded with glitter and have that "geode" like appearance. I also love creating ocean art cocktail shakers. Those are my number-one sellers!

Tell us about yourself

I have been bartending for about fifteen years. About ten years ago, I developed a line of low-calorie, low-sugar cocktail syrups called Southern Twist. Due to the effects of 2020, I decided to put that line on hold, although it hurt my heart to do so. I know my fellow entrepreneurs can relate- it's hard to "give up" on a dream, but sometimes necessary to do so. The irony is that I had already designed The Boozy Mermaid product line and was able to pivot a bit by aiming toward high-end gifts, custom cocktail shakers, cocktail-scented candles, and gift sets. Since I opened my Etsy shop in March 2020, I have been blessed with consistent business! I designed the concept of The Boozy Mermaid in 2019 to add to my line of cocktail syrups. My original focus was personalized barware, but the concept grew once I opened my Etsy shop. I often traveled for competitions as a bartender and wanted to have beautiful barware to use on stage. I struggled to find high-quality and fun barware, so I decided to create it myself! It took months of learning how to powder coat and tons of trial and error, but I was determined! The hard work paid off. I ended up integrating resin art to add to both the longevity and uniqueness of the pieces and was able to use those other techniques and mediums with my additional items in the shop.

My motivation each day is my passion to create something unique and special. The focus on custom barware is a huge time investment, but I truly enjoy it. I have created over 600 custom creations so far! Everyone I take to heart and try to make myself grow as an artist with each creation while keeping my customers top-of-mind. They are the reason I'm able to do what I love for a living!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest professional accomplishment to date is having my line of craft cocktail syrups, Southern Twist, make it into HomeGoods stores nationwide. That was an exciting time! While the production is on hold indefinitely, I'm a big believer in timing. I do think there's more to come for the syrups down the line.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I believe the hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is balancing home life, personal obligations, and professional duties. When you're so incredibly passionate about your business, it's very difficult to prioritize appropriately to maintain a healthy work/life balance. The second hardest thing as a business owner, I think, is making the decisions that enable your business to be truly profitable. Scaling a business means making difficult choices, and it's not an easy road. Not all entrepreneurs have goals of bringing in millions of dollars. Some of us just love to create to the extent that it truly is an extension of our being.

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

My first tip would be to write a business plan for anyone wishing to start a business. Even if no one else is going to see it! It can help you discover areas you may need to spend some time on to further plan your business launch. What is your growth strategy? What are your financial goals? These are important things to ask yourself as you prepare to launch your business startup.

A second tip I have is to start small. I started a cocktail mix company back in 2005. While it had good legs on it and had some good initial opportunities, I had overextended by not planning appropriately for the cost to get to market, even though I had those numbers on paper. Having investors involved and raising financing takes time, and it is easy to get ahead of yourself with excitement. This same tip goes right along with the fact that I spent so much money on a website, trademarks, graphic designers, etc., that the money needed for actual production and operations was compromised. I believe that there is no need at the very beginning for a fancy website or logo; the important part is proof of concept, and you can grow from there. You can have professional branding without spending a fortune with platforms like Canva and even hiring through Fiverr. If you're going the investor route, they typically can see from your business plan and products whether it is going to sink or swim. I'd say start with fewer SKUs/products, build-out, and grow once you know your concept is a viable one. I essentially took my lessons from my first cocktail mix company in 2005. I used that to create an all-natural, low-calorie cocktail syrup line that enabled me to see that not only was the market ready for my concept, but it was also willing to embrace it.

And that leads to my third tip- make sure it's a profitable idea! It can be something you love, sure. But if you're a true entrepreneur, you can use your passion in many areas, and your unique skill sets to apply that in ways that will bring in revenue. My decision to go with a food-based product with high startup costs and lean profit margins may not have been the best business to jump into the head -first. But I did bring on mentors, business owners, and advisors, and I joined every group I could to network and learn. I honestly wouldn't change anything about that decision. I discovered my passions, learned from amazing entrepreneurs, and found a calling in a way that had a lot of zig-zags. Sometimes successes and failures are too narrowly defined. I believe every business I created that failed truly made me a better person as well as a more well-rounded entrepreneur.

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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