By Karen On August 9, 2019

14 Truths of Owning a Business in the Spirits Industry

A couple of months ago, I went to a hair appointment in the middle of the day for the first time in what felt like forever. It had been at least half a year since I took the time for a haircut. As I glanced into a storefront near the salon, I saw a colorful sweatshirt with “INSPIRED BUT TIRED” on the front.

“Yep. YEP,” I thought to myself. It’s hard for me to admit but my sentiment was summarized on a $70 sweatshirt. I’m real tired. But I AM SO EXCITED for what’s to come, and energized by this industry daily. I may not own a distillery (I hate cleaning and math), but I certainly have gone through all of the ups and downs business owners face.

Here are some of the truths of owning a creative agency in the distilling industry (besides glorifying too much work):

  • “Why can’t I write this off?” will forever be my #1 question.
  • Swim suit bottoms double as underwear when there’s no time for laundry.
  • Leftover coffee in the pot can double as “cold brew” when you add ice.
  • “Just checking in on that invoice…”
  • Client submits label to TTB. First response: “This copy is deceiving.” Change nothing on the label and send back. “Approved.”
  • “Happy hour” sometimes lasts for 5+ hours.
  • Lawyers are excellent resources for understanding alcohol laws by state…for the same cost as a barrel of whiskey.
  • People make the “research” joke about our drinking on the job being RESEARCH. I’m not researching anything except: GOUT.
  • Weekly emails from the depths of the internet: “I’d love to see if there is a way we can collaborate at some point!”
  • Federal Excise Tax (FET) is on my mind daily, too.
  • VACATION is plowing through work on a Saturday because there are less meetings and emails.
  • Deep down inside my shoe, my sock is always sliding off my foot. It’s a meme, and an analogy but also I just need to buy new socks.
  • Deadlines sometimes mean trying gin at 8 AM.
  • Thinking with my eyes shut is the new sleeping.

This post reminds me…I need to schedule a cut. And no, I won’t be buying that sweater in the shop next to the salon. I prefer my “Hire Me. Fire Me. Whatever” shirt from my days of freelancing.

Image via Valfre



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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