What is Ludlows Cocktails and how did you get started?
Ludlows Cocktail Co. is a start-up focused on crafting fun, innovative, and premium spirited products using all-natural ingredients. We wanted to do something a little “disruptive” in the industry, where there are very few female or millennial owned brands.
I was with a couple friends who were entreprenurs as well, and we wanted to work on a new venture together. For some reason, we kept going back to Jell-o Shots and how no one had reinvented them. It seemed like a good niche to tackle, especially since the alcohol indsutry is super competitive and we had to stand out immediately. We raised a few hundred thousand from friends and family, both equity and debt, and then ran a kickstarted campaign, most of which went to product development and inventory.
What gave you the courage to take the entrepreneurial leap? I feel like my creative output is starting businesses. I also want to live the life I want to live, so being an entrepreneur and working for myself affords me that freedom.
Did you have a background in business before you started? I have a major in Sociology and minor in Business & Organizational Studies. One of the most formative jobs I had in college was actually as a door-to-door sales person. I then worked in real estate development and finance as a Project Manager for 6 years before doing Coolhaus full time.
You launched Ludlows Cocktails on Kickstarter. Was that a calculated move to generate funding or awareness or both? It was definitely more for the marketing than the funding. We wanted to build a community of people who were excited about the product to act as our “unofficial” brand ambassadors. It also forces you to get the word out and do some marketing and PR on your own. If you look at it from that perspective, it is a successful model.
In CoolHaus, you meshed architecture and ice cream, and in Ludlows you have the love child of craft cocktails and jelly shots, clearly you have a knack for finding new niches. How was that instrumental in the success of your brands? I feel like you have more creative freedom when you pick a niche. I think that’s where the “mash-up” inspiration happens, within these constraints. It’s also a good go-to market strategy.[quote_left]I feel like you have more creative freedom when you pick a niche. I think that’s where the “mash-up” inspiration happens, within these constraints. It’s also a good go-to market strategy.[/quote_left]You’ve dabbled in more than one foodie enterprise, would you consider yourself a foodie? A couple friends have dubbed me a “consuminator.” I like EVERYTHING from the tasting menu at L’Arpège in Paris to a Del Taco chicken flatbread taco. I don’t discriminate (nor judge!).
Do you have a desert island meal? I have to go with an old school surf and turf with wedge salad and dirty martini with blue cheese olives. Preferably from somewhere like Taylor’s or Peter Luger’s.
You have partnered with women (Natasha Case in Cool Haus) and have gone it alone (Ludlows). What are the pros and cons of a partnership versus a solo act? Always have a partner. Do not go it ALONE. I actually started with a partner at Ludlows, but he dropped out right when we were going to launch. Recently, Ludlows just partnered with David Kaplan, Alex Day, and Devon Tarby from Proprietors LLC, on our bottled spritz line slated to come out later this year. And I am currently looking for a more day-to-day partner…just putting it out there!
In the alcohol world, I’m sure it’s quite the boys club. Has that been challenging as a woman? Absolutely, but it has also been an advantage. I don’t feel like I have to do anything a certain way, which can be liberating. But, it is 100% a boys club. I see more and more female bartenders and brand owners, but we need more female ownership/management/buyers at the distribution and retail level.
Having run two successful female run businesses, how important is it for women to support each other? Do you believe work-life balance is an achievable goal? It is of paramount importance that women support each other. We should all be forming “advisory boards” for ourselves with other women that have complimentary skill sets and to whom we can turn to for advice. I think achieving work-life balance can be easier when you own your own business. It just takes a little bit of time to get the business to run without you so you can work ON the business, and not necessarily in the business.
What advice would you give to your 18-year old self? To start a business back then! You really can never be to young to start. Use your youth to your advantage.
With whom (living, deceased, or fictional) would most like to have a drink with? What would you drink? Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, especially because I apparently lived in her room at my AEPHI sorority at Cornell. We’d drink Vieux Carres.
What do you consider to be your hardest won or most treasured life lesson?
That you accept the love and respect you think you deserve. As women, we need to think and dream bigger. This was actually one reason given by a male friend at a Venture Capital firm on why more men vs women get funded.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Running a female fund investing in other female entrepreneurs by the time I’m 40.
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