By Karen On January 7, 2020

5 Questions with Kate Palmer of Hearts + Tales Beverage Co.

Hearts + Tales Beverage Co. is a uniquely focused on an individualized or ‘hand-crafted’ approach to sales and marketing of artisanal brands in the United States. We recently helped Kate Palmer, Founder and President of Hearts + Tales with a website development for the new company. After working with Kate, we thought we’d dig deeper into how companies like Hearts + Tales work with distilleries and liquor companies for distribution management and route to market strategy. Here’s five questions with Kate Palmer of Hearts + Tales Beverage Co.

Q: How does a small, local distillery know when it is time to expand beyond their local market into new regions?

A: There’s a number of reasons, but not all of them are good or even right, so one should always proceed with caution. Examples being: “Where to buy” inquiries coming from more and more out of state consumers, new/out of state distributor interest, increased production capabilities, increased investment capabilities, updated branding reflecting a more national than local feel, sales no longer growing at the local level, current distributor’s recommendation for continued growth, etc.

Q: What are some signs a distillery may be in need of help with distributor management?

A: To be honest, all distilleries could use help with distributor management. Distributors are constantly changing/evolving and now you have the disruptors. Everyone from a brand new farm to glass distillery with no experience with the 3-Tier System in the U.S. to an established distillery run by a veteran that isn’t familiar with Libdib could use a fresh set of eyes to help with creative approaches to sales in 2020.

Q: Is it possible for a liquor company to keep its existing sales team and work with a company like Hearts + Tales?

A: To be honest, we’re still fleshing that one out. With distributor management, you never want to have too many cooks in the kitchen or the lines of communication can get crossed. As long as management roles/points of contact are clearly defined it can work, but the ultimate goal is for H+T to have it’s on team in key markets by 2021. 

Q:What sort of offerings should a distillery or product owner expect to receive?

A: Hearts + Tales tailors a unique plan for each of our partners depending on their strengths, weaknesses and overall company goals. Whether you’re in the initial stages of researching the U.S. market feasibility for your brand, looking for an importer, self-distributing and ready to take the next steps, gearing up to sell, or want to cut back on markets to strengthen existing relationships with your distributor partners, we can help you achieve these goals.

Q: How does a company know which markets are best? Example: should they go for top 10-15 markets nationally, or stick to regional markets? 

A: We could tell you, but we’d have to charge you. It’s honestly different for every brand/category, but Hearts + Tales is definitely here to help navigate that process. There are certainly the traditional top craft markets, but you might want to ‘test’ a brand in a less significant market before you launch in New York, or maybe even give a control state a whirl before launching in Illinois. California is so big that you can choose to only launch in the north or south to get started. Ultimately, the markets that want your brand are the best. If requests from Oklahoma are blowing up your inbox, Oklahoma it shall be. Pick your partners, agree to expectations, and communicate to achieve mutual success.


Karen Locke is Founder of High-Proof Creative. She has written about booze for magazines like GQ magazine, Bon Appétit, Thrillist, Sip Northwest, Chilled, and more. Additionally, Karen has many years of creative, and marketing agency work in Portland. She believes the darker the bar, the better.

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