I spent the last 22 years working around the globe and blessed to discover so many places, people and products, and I can truly say that we are all a MESH of one benevolent spirit
– all of us made of flesh and BONE.
I started this company to spread this message.
I’ve always been amazed to see how simple products can serve as gateways to understanding different cultures. I saw this especially with food and drink, and my strongest connections with locals usually happened over a bottle of their native spirit. It was surprising how many of these spirits were unknown to the outside world…even though they were incredible! I wanted to share these treasures, and more importantly, the amazing people and places behind them.
“ It never mattered if I spoke the language or not, I could always laugh with others over a drink. All the differences fade away and all you’re left with is what really matters..”
I wanted to create a brand that everyone could join and share with each other…Global products like vodka, whisky, rum, tequila, prosecco—but find something different better, new…exciting. Most of what I saw on the shelf was all the same….seemed like a tired and stagnant industry.
I remembered my days in venture capital in the Valley listening to passionate entrepreneurs wanting to shake up big industry. I knew it right there….what if I could disrupt the big old alcohol world…is that epic or what?!“
I spent the next few years traveling the globe trying to find the best-hidden treasures. I didn’t have any industry contacts, so I just cold-called and literally walked up to the distiller front doors across the globe. No clue. Just a smile and a passport. Closing a deal with a 200-year-old Japanese Shochu maker was the most challenging. I was asking them to let me brand their ancient formula. It took me 3 years of dinners and friendship before they finally announced they would work with me.
I was working for a traditional Japanese company at the time, and I told my boss in broken Japanese that I wanted to start a new alcohol company. I was apprehensive because you never leave your company in Japan. He said, “ Scotto-san, you always have home here, but you must live your dream. Be brave“.
“One question. What is name of company?” I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “what do you make?“ I was quiet…then my mouth opened and nervously joked “I make epic shit happen”. He frowned then slowly smiled and laughed. “ha ha…I like it…good name. very brave”
My vision became clear. I wanted to combine the elegance of Chanel, the strength of Iron Maiden with the mystery of the White Album. No story. No detail. No nothing.
I wanted the consumer to discover. let them imagine…let them create. just like I did.I called my marketing friends and showed them. I excitedly asked ’What do you think!?” They immediately replied. “Worst idea ever” I knew right then it was a winner.
Bill, my former boss, ran big global brands like Pepsi and Stoli Vodka. He taught me all the fundamental of creating successful brands; from testing, audience segmentation, and measuring. I remember calling him and asking him about my new company. Bill said…”Do everything I taught you and comb your hair.” I remember writing over my life savings to order the first product. We had tested the crap out the product and I knew it would win. I wrote out the check without a drip of sweat on my brow, but I had to change my shorts.
Our big break came at the Windy City Wine Festival in Chicago. Out of 200 vendors, we had the longest line to sample our product and people got angry when we were forced to close our booth down. They had to call security to get people to leave.
The next day I got a call from the head buyer at Whole Foods. They wanted us immediately. Two days later Kroger called. Then Target. I remember taking this photo never to forget what we had created.
When we first entered the market..everyone said first build the brand in bars & restaurants and then get a sampling agency to taste in retail. I thought that was ironic since 80% of volume comes from retail. We did the reverse of the industry and focused on retail….we didn’t outsource our tastings and we out-sold our peers 5 to 1 at a fraction of the expense. “ Our distributor sat us down and told us we’d be lucky to sell 500 cases in our 1st year. We sold 5,000”
“ I got a call from Jon and he sounded panicked. “Scott the store manager is freaking out! We sold out of their stock in 1 hour!” I asked him how many bottles? Jon said, “70” I asked how much do other brands usually sell there? Jon said “2”
“No one believed that a brand could sell both cider and spirits. They told us that just doesn’t happen, Our vision was never to be a spirits brand, nor an alcohol brand. We sell hidden treasures and our fans responded with enthusiasm.
The true test of a company is when hard times come—and they always do. My days in venture capital taught me that most ventures fail, but it’s never really because of the product..it’s usually the people…This company has tried me financially, emotionally and physically. My team has stood next to me through thick and thin.I’ve known most of the team for over 10 years and we all respect and love each other.