Jen’s appreciation for beer grew from experiencing it with her dad.From the first sip, she was hooked. She launched the Atlanta Beer Boutique in 2011 as a beer blog that evolved into a private events company. As a Project Manger in the Urban Planning industry and lifelong volunteer, Jen possesses a genuine appreciation for community. The future of ABB combines her love of beer and civic engagement in a communal space. Jen is a Certified Beer Server and is currently studying to become a Cicerone (beer sommelier). She is the author of “The Chick’s Guide to Beer” due in stores, soon.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Roshawnna: Hi. I'm Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, host of Startup Funding and producer of the EnrichHER Initiative. I am so excited to be highlighting so many awesome entrepreneurs from Atlanta. Today we have Jen from the Atlanta Beer Boutique.
Jennifer: Thank you for having me.
Roshawnna: Of course. Can you tell us more about how you came up with this idea?
Jennifer: Sure. I've been drinking beer for a long time. I won't divulge how long, but my father actually got me started drinking beer. I used to ... He used to let me sip a little bit of his beer when he poured it. I was like five years old, so I've been on this beer thing for 38 years. A long time.
Roshawnna: You told us now.
Jennifer: I know, right? Busted. Papa's busted. I really got into beer interning. I used to have internships in Boulder, Colorado in the '90s, and that was when the beer scene was really just exploding on the west coast and in the mountains. I just got into really good beer. That was my first time having great beer.
I've always just had a taste for it. It is an acquired taste for sure, but I do believe that I ... Having that internship and having an opportunity to drink really good high-quality beer at an early age really just put me onto what beer really could be. From there, I just kind of fell in love with it and over the last maybe five or six years have been trying to figure out a way to make beer sort of my paying job.
It's not what I do during my full time, but it's my passion, so I've been working on creating this company, the Atlanta Beer Boutique, to kind of help me craft my own ... Pun intended, craft my own way in the industry.
Roshawnna: I love it. Now can you tell us more about the booming beer industry in Atlanta and how you can break into that? Have you been able to break into the industry?
Jennifer: Absolutely. It's growing here in Georgia as a state. We still are one of the very few states that, but this law will soon change, don't allow people to drink beer at a brewery. You can't just go up and like buy a beer at a ... Like a bar at the brewery, but that's changing, and what that change will bring ... Lots of new legislation that will really open up the floodgates and allow and really be more welcoming to breweries to locate here.
That's the only difference with Atlanta. We have the transportation. We have the location. We have the professional crowd and sort of the demographics that would be very welcoming to this beer culture, but we just didn't have the laws. Now that that's changing, I think we can expect to see the industry just take on a new level here in Atlanta, and my shop will create sort of a space for people to do that comfortably.
I'm very, very interested in providing high-quality beer, but also a very high level of customer service to my customers and for my clients, especially since beer is still kind of new here and people want to know about it and are curious about it, but don't really know where to start. That's the kind of niche that my business will fill, is to create a place where a shopping experience supersedes everything and creates just opportunity for everyone to enjoy it.
Roshawnna: I was talking to a friend recently and he told me that there's so much money to be made in craft beers that people really don't know about, especially people of color.
Jennifer: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Roshawnna: So you're going to have an education process in addition to a venue where people can partake?
Jennifer: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm glad you brought that up, because I'd like to sort of be clear about what my vision is. It's not like many things that you see here in Atlanta. I will have a retail store, you just think like fancy wine shop.
Jennifer: It will be like that, but with beer. There will be nice bottles of beer, glassware, books, all kinds of things to sort of round out your experience when you go home, but next to that a venue where I can hold my tastings, classes, workshops. It'll have a small commercial kitchen so that we can do home brewing lessons. It will just kind of be a playground really for people to explore beer. I'm real excited about it.
Roshawnna: A playground?
Roshawnna: What's the most exciting thing that's going on with the Atlanta Beer Boutique right now?
Jennifer: Gosh, it's kind of hard to just pick one, right? Like asking a mom to pick their favorite child. They're all exciting. Everything I'm doing is super exciting, but right now I really am focusing on opening up the store, and it's taking me way outside of my comfort zone. I'm not a big asker, but that's changing. I'm learning you have not because you ask not, so I am excited about finding funders to support my dream, to back me on opening the store.
Roshawnna: What can the listeners, the viewers do right now to make your dream a reality?
Jennifer: Follow me. That would be fantastic. I'm always trying to grow my presence online, my social media presence, so you can follow my blog, which is atlantabeerboutique.com. On Facebook I'm atlantabeerboutique and on Twitter and Instagram I'm atlbeerboutique. I just feel like right now my biggest barrier is just exposure, and it's because of what you said. A lot of this beer culture is very much like a fraternity and it is challenging sometimes to kind of break that stigma.
Then beer itself I think has a negative stigma. I think if people just experience it and learn more about it, learn more about me and what I'm doing, that will be a huge help to just changing the conversation around beer and changing the understanding about it being something that's actually very complex, very sophisticated, and yeah, I think that would be very helpful, if people could just open their minds and do that by learning more about me and what I do.
Roshawnna: I challenge you to find out more about Jen and what she's doing and support her business. I just thank you so much for being a guest on this show and I wish you the best of luck.
Jennifer: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Roshawnna: Startup Funding is partnering with the EnrichHER Initiative to showcase the best women led enterprises from the city of Atlanta. Go to startupfunding.co and click on EnrichHER to learn about every entrepreneur that we showcase and how you can take part in this amazing initiative.
Jen has been a lover of craft beer for more than 20 years and is a Certified Beer Server, the first of four levels of the Cicerone Program, an internationally recognized beer expert certification body. She is currently studying to master the second level of the Cicerone Program with hopes of reaching the third and fourth levels in the future.
As she chases her beer dreams, Jen works full time as a Project Manager in the Urban Planning industry. She has 16 years of experience leading and completing projects with multiple municipal clients within scope, on schedule and on budget. Her work in community planning and service as a lifelong volunteer has created a strong appreciation for community engagement and activation. She is a 2016 graduate of Start: ME, a micro-accelerator program sponsored by the Emory University Goizueta Business School and the East Lake Foundation.
Jen is author of “The Chick’s Guide to Beer: 7 Simple Rules for the Beer Novice.” The book, which teaches ladies the ins and outs of beer is set to publish in the spring of 2017 and will establish her as an expert on a global scale.