Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristin Wingfield Koefod.
Kristin, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started the company five years ago with my wife, Missy. Two years prior, she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive Sarcoma, called Hemangiopericytoma. At the time, she was given less than a 15% chance of surviving. After her surgery, we made the decision to sell everything and move to L.A. to cross off a few things of her bucket list.
When it was time for her yearly scan, we were given incredible news that the cancer would likely not return.
We decided to move back to Atlanta, where she was licensed to practice law. Very quickly, she realized that was not what she wanted. Her experience with cancer really made her want to do something she was passionate about. We toyed with several ideas and during “Snowpocolypse” when we were stuck at home for for several days, we started making our own bitters. Flavor pairing is really exciting for me, so while she was coming up with a business plan, I was busy trying play with every ingredient I could get my hands on.
We hosted tasting parties for our friends, ran a Kickstarter to see if there was any interest and before we knew it we were headed back to L.A. to start showing our product to bars and restaurants. We were kind of like door to door salesmen. We had our little vintage briefcase with samples of bitters and other goodies and we just walked in and said, “Try our stuff.” Within six months of doing this, along with attending Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, we were available in 15 states and three countries. We each quit our job and pursued 1821 full time. A year after that, we opened our first retail tasting experience in Ponce City Market, where we also moved our production. We are now available in 48 states and six countries.
Has it been a smooth road?
Owning your own business is hard work. Instagram makes entrepreneurs look like the most glamorous people, but in actuality, you are responsible for other people being able to pay their bills, if there’s a failure, it’s on you. It’s tough. My most important lesson was valuing my time. People think when you’re a small business, you’ll say yes to anything because you want the business or because you aren’t that big yet, they can get something for a lower price, but if you don’t value yourself and your product and what you are offering, no one else will either.
We were fortunate enough to have a lot of friends and family that were willing to help us when we started. Without that support system, I don’t know how we would have done it. There were nights that I slept in the shop overnight using bubble wrap as a pillow and then got up to finish an order. My advice to a young woman starting would be to have a support system in place and it’s ok to say no sometimes. You have to know your limits.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into 1821 Bitters story. Tell us more about the business.
1821 Bitters is a cocktail company. We manufacture bitters, tinctures, shrubs, syrups, ginger beer, and tonic. We do cocktail consulting all over the world. We have a wholesale sales team that travels to sell our products to bars and restaurants in the US. Most importantly, we educate. We have cocktail classes in our store and around Atlanta. Our retail team at Ponce is there to guide you thru our product and find out what you like. What do you drink, what flavors appeal to you, etc… so you can have a customized experience. Hospitality and experience are two words that we say on a daily basis. We truly believe that making people feel welcome in any kind of establishment is the key to having a loyal customer base.
Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
My grandmother is the strongest woman I know. She always has a positive outlook on life. She’s accepting and kind and supportive and has taken everything that life has thrown at her and faced it with positivity.
My wife is also a pillar of strength. She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and one one of the most determined. She never stops setting new goals for herself and when she puts her mind to something, she accomplishes it.
Women, in general, are really amazing creatures. They are born multi-taskers, caregivers, nurturers and generally just get shit done. Stacey Abrams made history this past election, even without winning. Letitia James made history. Maya Angelou was well ahead of her time. Honestly, any woman who stands up and says, “Not good enough, let’s change that” is an inspiration. I look up to a strong woman who desires to make a change.
- Address: Ponce City Market
675 Ponce de león Ave #N149
Atlanta, GA 30308
- Website: www.1821bitters.com
- Phone: 404 852 7023
- Email: Drink@1821bitters.com
- Instagram: 1821bitters
- Facebook: 1821bitters
- Twitter: 1821bitters
Elijah D. Davis