It’s Female Founder Friday, and I’m pleased to share the unconventional startup story of how a longtime public servant quit her job at the FDA to go “all in” on her entrepreneurial dream. Adrienne Walker’s company, Blue Henry Spirits, creates hand-crafted cocktail candy. You didn’t read that incorrectly. Adrienne is basically the Willa Wonka of cocktails mixers! She devised how to infuse interesting flavors into cotton candy that elevates the creation of craft cocktails, while making them easier for amateurs to concoct!
So, if you’re working 9 to 5 in a field non-related to your dream business, or curious how cocktail mixers out of cotton candy came about, don’t miss Adrienne’s candid answers to my questions below!
What inspired you to create your company?
Friends, Hospitality and Fun – I LOVE to entertain my girlfriends and I love a great party – and usually that involves a great cocktail. I’m also a big fan of what is happening with craft cocktails today. I was looking for a way to contribute that would be approachable and easy. When blending multiple ingredients, it can be hard for the average person to consistently make quality rounds of cocktails. So, I came up with Divvys. I could infuse multiple subtle but elevating ingredients into the cotton candy and it dissolves immediately when it comes in contact with a base liquor. Plus, it’s just plain fun. The smiles I get when people use this product in a cocktail, mocktail, or just on its own continue to inspire me. We can all use a little break from the stress and strain.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
Honestly, the biggest obstacle was me. Believing in myself. Being afraid to leave something I knew and going into the unknown. Trusting myself to take the risk. Convincing myself that my friends, family and former colleagues would think that I had lost my mind; when in fact the exact opposite has been true. The support I’m getting has been overwhelming.
We are moving from pilot to product launch. The past few months, we’ve been testing not only product, packaging, and production processes, but also marketing, branding, and price; building strategic partnerships. A lot of my early assumptions were dead wrong – so I’m glad I learned them early and in small volumes with limited exposure. Now the training wheels will be coming off. I think we are ready and I look forward to seeing Blue Henry on bar menus, in signature drinks at special events, and at your favorite spirit shops.
What is a life or business hack that you recommend to help other female founders?
For the moms, occasionally, share your business ideas or problems with your kids in a way that they can wrap their heads around it. They see you grinding and they want to help.
1 – When you hear yourself describe the idea or problem in simple terms you may realize it really wasn’t such a complex thing and the solution is actually quite simple.
2- Children have a unique perspective and sometimes wild and unique thinking leads us to the right answer.
3- You are smart and so are your kids, they may actually have the solution.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
“DNA,” by Kendrick Lamar. The words are motivating, the beat is pulsating – you can’t sit still. It reminds me of the strength I get from my parents and grandparents that I need to also pass on to my children.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Your priority is only YOUR priority. No one cares more than you. So don’t expect someone else to make your dream a reality. And, you can’t be offended or take it personally when people don’t respond with the urgency or veracity that you would like.