Small-business owners, what are you doing to stand out from the crowd? Each week, we focus on an entrepreneur who has lessons to share that we think will resonate with other small-business owners.
Litty Mathew and Melkon Khosrovian, founders of eco-friendly vodka and gin maker Modern Spirits , answer our questions:
What are you doing to stand out from the crowd?
At Modern Spirits, we’ve crafted a carbon-negative line of vodkas and gin called TRU Organic spirits. For each bottle that we sell, we plant at least one seedling in Central America. Through our partnership with nonprofit Sustainable Harvest International and other organizations, we’ve planted more than 50,000 trees in the region.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The freedom to work on our own terms. While planting a tree for every bottle we sell takes away from our bottom line and doesn’t make a whole lot of business sense, we feel passionately about wanting our products to be carbon negative.
What’s the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
Building our business, while continuing the mission of giving back to the environment is difficult at times.
Name: Litty Mathew and Melkon Khosrovian
Business: Modern Spirits, an eco-friendly vodka and gin maker.
Industry: Alcoholic Beverage
Location: Los Angeles
Year founded: 2004
Number of employees: 6
Web address: www.truvodka.com
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome?
Distribution is a hurdle that we’re still trying to overcome. We’re often hamstrung by strict government rules, which were set up right after prohibition. Plus, the alcohol industry in general has become highly consolidated lately, which has made getting our products into stores even more difficult.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Not raising enough money in the beginning. Although bootstrapping has its advantages, we needed more capital to scale our products for wider distribution.
What’s the best business advice you can offer?
Learn to love bureaucrats. From city officials and health department administrators to state and federal regulators, we’ve learned that if you ask nicely, they will give you loads of free advice that helps cut through red tape.
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