January 7, 2024

Absinthia Vermut, CEO of Absinthia's Bottled Spirits, embarked on her entrepreneurial journey fueled by a passion for absinthe dating back to its illegal days in 1997. Her motivation was to counteract the proliferation of subpar absinthe brands flooding the market after its legalization. Inspired by absinthe's rich history in 1800s Paris, she aimed to provide an authentic and superior experience. While growing her business, Absinthia faced challenges including navigating inventory management, financing, and breaking gender biases in the alcohol industry. Absinthia joined The WMarketplace to benefit from the collective support for women entrepreneurs and had a pivotal "aha" moment when she started leveraging social media for advertising. Read on to learn more from this inspiring woman entrepreneur in the challenging world of craft spirits..

Absinthia Vermut, CEO of Absinthia's Bottled Spirits

Leveraging my years of experience in crafting absinthe, I aimed to revive the true essence of this beverage and provide enthusiasts with a product that reflects its historical significance. 

Why did you start your business? What motivated or inspired you?

I started my business, Absinthia's Bottled Spirits, with a passion for absinthe that dates back to 1997, when it was still illegal. After the legalization of absinthe, I noticed a proliferation of gimmick brands that were not meeting the true standards of this historic and once highly regarded spirit. Having discovered the rich history and popularity of absinthe in 1800s Paris, I was inspired to share my own high-quality and delicious version of absinthe with the public.

My motivation stemmed from a desire to offer an authentic and superior absinthe experience, as opposed to the subpar options flooding the market. Leveraging my years of experience in crafting absinthe, I aimed to revive the true essence of this beverage and provide enthusiasts with a product that reflects its historical significance. The positive reception and accolades my absinthe has received serve as validation for the quality and deliciousness of my unique offering. Through Absinthia's Bottled Spirits, I have succeeded in reintroducing absinthe to the public in a way that honors its heritage and showcases its true, exceptional flavor.

Banner of products from Absinthia's Bottled Spirits

What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?

When I started my business, I wish I had known just how challenging and expensive it would be to create and store inventory. The process of developing and maintaining a stock of high-quality absinthe proved to be a substantial undertaking, both in terms of time and financial resources. The intricacies of managing inventory, including production costs and storage logistics, were aspects I hadn't fully anticipated, and navigating them became a significant part of my entrepreneurial journey.

Additionally, the realization of how demanding and costly marketing efforts could be came as a surprise. Establishing a brand presence, promoting products, and reaching my target audience required strategic planning and financial investment. Building a successful marketing strategy demanded a keen understanding of the competitive landscape and a commitment to standing out in a crowded market.

Perhaps most notably, I encountered unexpected challenges in raising funds as a woman-owned business. Despite the unique perspectives and strengths that women entrepreneurs bring to the table, I found that breaking through traditional funding barriers was an uphill battle. Securing financial support and overcoming gender-related biases were hurdles I had to navigate with resilience and determination.

In hindsight, these insights would have been invaluable at the outset of my business journey. Understanding the complexities of inventory management, the intricacies of effective marketing, and the unique challenges faced by women-owned businesses would have allowed me to better prepare and strategize for the road ahead.

Why did you decide to join The WMarketplace?

I decided to join WMarketplace because of the platform's unwavering support for women-owned businesses. The marketplace offers a unique and empowering space for us to showcase and sell our products to the public. Recognizing the challenges that women entrepreneurs often face, WMarketplace stands out as a dedicated platform that not only acknowledges these obstacles but actively works to address and overcome them. This visibility is crucial in reaching a broader audience and establishing a strong presence in the market.

WMarketplace's commitment to empowering women entrepreneurs extends beyond just providing a platform for sales. It actively promotes the stories, journeys, and unique offerings of women-owned businesses, creating a community that celebrates and uplifts each other. Being a part of this marketplace not only enhances the visibility of my brand but also aligns with my values of promoting diversity and gender equality in the business landscape.

In joining WMarketplace, I've found not just a platform to sell my products, but a community that understands and supports the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, fostering an environment where we can thrive and succeed.

What has been the most challenging thing about getting your business up and running?

Being a woman in the alcohol industry comes with its unique set of challenges. Historically, this field has been predominantly male-dominated, and breaking through gender biases can be a significant hurdle. The industry may present obstacles related to gender stereotypes, unequal opportunities, and the need to prove oneself in a traditionally male-centric environment. These challenges inspired me to take proactive steps to overcome them and excel in the alcohol business.

Recognizing the importance of acquiring additional skills and knowledge to navigate the industry, I made the decision to go back to school and pursue an MBA. This educational pursuit was driven by a desire to not only gain a deeper understanding of business strategies and market dynamics but also to equip myself with the tools needed to navigate and overcome the unique challenges faced by women in the alcohol field. The MBA program provided valuable insights into leadership, negotiation, and strategic decision-making, empowering me to thrive in a competitive and often gender-biased industry.

One of the ongoing challenges in running my business is managing cash flow. In the alcohol industry, creating inventory requires substantial upfront investment, and paying suppliers can be a significant strain on financial resources. Balancing the need for quality ingredients, production costs, and timely payments to suppliers while ensuring a steady cash flow poses a constant challenge. This financial juggling act requires careful planning, budgeting, and strategic decision-making to sustain and grow the business.

Despite these challenges, my commitment to overcoming gender barriers in the alcohol industry, coupled with the pursuit of higher education, has allowed me to navigate these hurdles with resilience and determination. While there may be obstacles to face, each challenge becomes an opportunity for growth and empowerment. By addressing these issues head-on, I am not only advancing my own business but also contributing to the broader goal of promoting diversity and inclusivity in the alcohol industry.

What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of owning your own business?

The most exciting aspect of my business lies in the transformative journey of introducing people to the world of absinthe, guiding them on how to appreciate it, and showcasing the distinctive quality of Absinthia Absinthe. Witnessing the shift in people's understanding of absinthe, from a mysterious and misunderstood spirit to one that can be savored and enjoyed, brings immense satisfaction.

In addition to Absinthia Absinthe, the introduction of my unique craft mixers—Caged Heat, Cherry Bomb, and Fairy Dust—adds another layer of excitement to my business. Originally conceived as cocktail mixers, these innovative blends have found a distinct niche in the growing non-alcoholic market. Witnessing the evolution of these mixers has been a testament to their unique flavors and versatility.

Caged Heat, Cherry Bomb, and Fairy Dust have not only enhanced the cocktail-drinking experience but have also resonated with those seeking sophisticated non-alcoholic options. This expansion into the non-alcoholic market aligns with the evolving preferences of consumers and opens up new avenues for growth and diversification.

The joy lies not only in selling a product but in creating a community of enthusiasts who appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship behind absinthe and craft mixers. Through education, innovation, and a commitment to quality, my business is not just offering products; it's shaping a cultural shift in how people perceive and enjoy spirits and mixers. This dynamic journey of exploration and appreciation is what makes each milestone in my business both thrilling and rewarding.

Can you identify a moment in your business that was pivotal in your success? Have you had an “AHA!” moment(s)?

My "aha" moment occurred when I started selling on my online store and delved into advertising on social media, particularly during the pandemic when the trend shifted towards online orders and home-based drinking. Witnessing this shift, I realized the tremendous potential of connecting directly with customers through my digital storefront.

It was during this transformative period that I grasped the significance of leveraging social media platforms for advertising. Recognizing that people were increasingly looking for premium spirits and unique cocktail experiences from the comfort of their homes, I seized the opportunity to reach a broader audience and provide a convenient solution.

This "aha" moment was not just about adapting to changing circumstances but also about thriving by aligning with the evolving preferences of my target audience. Through online sales and social media advertising, I found a way to not only navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic but also to cater to the shifting dynamics of consumer behavior.

I decided to join WMarketplace because of the platform's unwavering support for women-owned businesses. The marketplace offers a unique and empowering space for us to showcase and sell our products to the public. Recognizing the challenges that women entrepreneurs often face, WMarketplace stands out as a dedicated platform that not only acknowledges these obstacles but actively works to address and overcome them. This visibility is crucial in reaching a broader audience and establishing a strong presence in the market.

How long have you been in business and has your business changed since you started it?

I officially started my business, Absinthia's Bottled Spirits, in 2013. In the initial years, a significant portion of my efforts was dedicated to navigating legal issues and refining the recipes that would eventually become the hallmark of my brand. The culmination of these efforts resulted in the launch of my first product, Caged Heat, in 2015, followed by the introduction of my first absinthe, Blanche, in 2017.

Since the inception of the business, there has been a notable evolution driven by the challenges and discoveries along the way. One significant realization has been the limited understanding of absinthe among many distributors, which posed a challenge in effectively marketing and selling the product through traditional channels. This prompted a shift in strategy, leading me to explore online platforms as a means to reach consumers directly.

Discovering platforms like WMarketplace has been instrumental in adapting to this changing landscape. By leveraging online avenues, I have been able to connect directly with consumers who are interested in and appreciate the unique qualities of absinthe. This shift represents a strategic response to the evolving dynamics of the spirits market and a recognition of the need to directly engage with consumers who seek a deeper understanding of the product.

In summary, since its establishment in 2013, Absinthia's Bottled Spirits has undergone changes driven by both challenges and opportunities. The journey from legal groundwork to product launches and, subsequently, adapting distribution strategies to align with the unique characteristics of absinthe showcases the dynamic nature of the business and its commitment to finding innovative ways to connect with consumers.

Do you have a mentor, formal or informal? What role have they played for you?

Yes, I have had the privilege of having a mentor in the spirits industry, and her guidance has been invaluable to my journey. Allison Evanow, the founder of Square One Organic Spirits, has played a significant role in mentoring me. Her expertise in the industry and commitment to organic and high-quality spirits provided me with valuable insights and inspiration.

Allison not only served as a mentor but also welcomed me into the Women's Cocktail Collective, a community she founded. Being a part of this collective has been a profound experience, as it brought together a diverse group of women in the spirits industry. The collective provided a supportive space for sharing experiences, knowledge, and advice.

The Women's Cocktail Collective has played a crucial role in fostering a sense of community and empowerment. Engaging with other women who share a passion for spirits has been enlightening and has contributed to my professional growth. The collective serves as a platform for networking, learning, and collaborating within an industry that has traditionally been male-dominated.

Allison's mentorship and the Women's Cocktail Collective have collectively provided me with a strong support system. The shared experiences, advice, and encouragement from this community have been instrumental in overcoming challenges and navigating the intricacies of the spirits business. The mentorship has not only impacted my professional development but has also enriched my perspective and inspired a sense of camaraderie within the industry. Overall, the mentorship and community have been transformative, emphasizing the importance of women supporting and uplifting each other in the spirits industry.

What communities have been important for you as you grew/developed your business?

Several communities have played a pivotal role in my business growth and development, providing support, mentorship, and valuable networking opportunities. Here are three significant communities that have been instrumental in shaping my entrepreneurial journey:

1. Women's Cocktail Collective:

Joining the Women's Cocktail Collective, founded by Allison Evanow of Square One Organic Vodka, has been a transformative experience. This community brings together women in the spirits industry, providing a platform for networking, mentorship, and collaboration. The collective has been crucial in fostering a sense of empowerment, allowing me to connect with like-minded individuals, share experiences, and gain insights from other women navigating similar challenges in the industry.

2. Startup CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods):

Startup CPG is another community that has been invaluable for my business development. This network is specifically focused on supporting entrepreneurs in the consumer packaged goods sector, offering resources, mentorship, and opportunities for collaboration. Engaging with fellow entrepreneurs in the CPG space has provided a wealth of knowledge, allowing me to learn from others' experiences and stay informed about industry trends and best practices.

3. DISCUS's Leadership Program:

Recently, receiving a full scholarship to attend DISCUS's Leadership Program has been a significant milestone. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) is a prominent industry association, and their Leadership Program offers an immersive experience for industry leaders. This opportunity not only enhances my leadership skills but also provides access to a broader network of professionals within the distilled spirits sector. Engaging with this community allows me to stay informed about industry regulations, market trends, and build relationships with key stakeholders.

Each of these communities has contributed uniquely to my business journey, offering support, mentorship, and a platform for continuous learning. The diverse perspectives and experiences shared within these networks have been instrumental in overcoming challenges, staying competitive, and fostering meaningful connections within the spirits industry.

Do you have items, photos or mementos on your desk that inspire you each day? What are they?

Absolutely, my desk is adorned with items that serve as constant sources of inspiration, reflecting the intersection of my passion for art history and the world of absinthe. It was my initial love for art history that drew me to absinthe, and I've incorporated these elements into my workspace to provide a daily dose of motivation and creativity.

1. Art History Books:

A collection of art history books is a prominent feature on my desk. These books not only serve as a reminder of my academic roots but also showcase the rich cultural and artistic history associated with absinthe. Exploring the visual representations and cultural context of absinthe in art provides a continuous source of inspiration for my work.

2. Paintings of Absinthe:

Adorning the walls of my office are reproductions of iconic paintings featuring absinthe, created by renowned artists such as Edgar Degas and Vincent van Gogh. These paintings not only add a touch of aesthetic allure to my workspace but also connect me to the historical and artistic roots of absinthe. They serve as constant reminders of the spirit's cultural significance and its representation in the world of art.

Having these art history books and paintings in my office creates an environment that blends the worlds of creativity and craftsmanship. It reinforces the artistic allure of absinthe and serves as a daily reminder of the cultural heritage that surrounds this spirit. These elements contribute to a workspace that is not only functional but also deeply connected to the passion that initially sparked my journey in the world of absinthe.

Do you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?

For other women getting started in business, I would offer the following advice:

1. Understand the Capital Requirements:

Be thorough in understanding the capital required to start, market, and create products for your business. Develop a comprehensive budget that covers all aspects of your venture, from initial setup costs to ongoing operational expenses. A clear understanding of your financial needs will help you make informed decisions and navigate the financial challenges that may arise.

2. Build a Strong Support System:

Recognize the importance of building a support system, both personally and professionally. Seek out like-minded communities, mentorship programs, and networking groups where you can connect with other women entrepreneurs. The shared experiences, advice, and encouragement from such communities can be invaluable in overcoming challenges and staying motivated throughout your entrepreneurial journey.

3. Embrace Continuous Learning:

Stay curious and embrace continuous learning. The business landscape is dynamic, and staying informed about industry trends, market changes, and new technologies is essential. Invest time in expanding your knowledge, whether through formal education, industry events, or networking with professionals in your field. This ongoing learning will contribute to your adaptability and long-term success.

4. Prioritize Your Unique Value Proposition:

Clearly define and prioritize your unique value proposition. Understand what sets your products or services apart from others in the market. Communicate this distinctiveness effectively in your branding and marketing efforts. Having a clear and compelling value proposition will not only attract customers but also guide your business decisions.

5. Be Resilient and Persistent:

Entrepreneurship often involves facing setbacks and challenges. Be resilient, stay focused on your goals, and learn from both successes and failures. Persistence is key in navigating the highs and lows of business ownership. Use challenges as opportunities for growth and continually refine your strategies.

Starting a business can be a rewarding but challenging journey. By understanding your financial requirements, building a supportive community, staying informed, emphasizing your unique value, and maintaining resilience, you can position yourself for success in the competitive business landscape. Remember that your unique perspective and contributions as a woman entrepreneur are valuable assets to the business world.

If a journalist were to write a headline about you/your business, what would it be?

Absinthia's Bottled Spirits: Crafting Authentic Absinthe and Redefining the Spirits Experience with Unique Craft Mixers.

Are there any apps or business services that you just can’t live without that you would like to give a shout-out to?

Absolutely! There are a few essential apps and business services that have been instrumental in the success of Absinthia's Bottled Spirits:

1. Crafted Pour:

Crafted Pour, a consulting service, collaborated with me in their early stages, specifically honing in on cocktail recipes with my valuable contribution. This partnership proved invaluable in not only discovering a platform to showcase my cocktail recipes but also in connecting with bartenders who enthusiastically embraced my products, creating their own unique recipes.

2. Klaviyo:

Klaviyo has been a cornerstone for my marketing efforts, particularly in email and SMS marketing. This platform provides a comprehensive and user-friendly solution for reaching and engaging with customers. The ability to tailor messages, segment audiences, and analyze campaign performance has been essential in maintaining effective communication with our customer base.

3. Shopify:

Shopify has been an indispensable platform for hosting my e-commerce site. The user-friendly interface, customizable features, and robust e-commerce tools make it a reliable choice for managing online sales. Shopify's seamless integration with various apps and plugins ensures a smooth and efficient operation of Absinthia's online store.

These services collectively contribute to the efficiency, marketing prowess, and overall success of Absinthia's Bottled Spirits. Each plays a unique role in different aspects of the business, emphasizing the importance of a well-rounded and integrated approach to operations and marketing.

Is there a non-profit or other social/mission-oriented business that your business supports? Can you tell us about this?

Supporting other women-owned businesses and contributing to the growth and development of women in the beverage industry is a cause that resonates deeply with my values. While I may not be at a financial point to offer direct financial support, I am consistently seeking ways to contribute, particularly through mentoring.

I actively engage in mentoring women who are new to the beverage industry, sharing insights, experiences, and guidance to help them navigate the challenges and opportunities that come with entrepreneurship. This commitment to mentorship is a way to contribute to the empowerment and success of women in the field.

In the future, as my business continues to grow, I aspire to extend support in more tangible ways, whether through financial contributions or collaborations with non-profit organizations that align with the mission of promoting women-owned businesses and fostering diversity within the beverage industry. The goal is not just to build a successful business but to actively contribute to a more inclusive and supportive community for women entrepreneurs in the beverage sector.

Thank you, Absinthia for sharing your advice and journey with the WMarketplace!

SHOP Absinthia's Bottled Spirits

Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit ThWMarketplace provides to sellers.

Her Story: Absinthia Vermut of Absinthia's Bottled Spirits