Here at The Grommet our mission is to put an end to nameless, faceless business and highlight the people and the stories behind the products we launch each day. And it's in that spirit that we're continuing this series to further share the stories of our Makers with you. Get to know them better, learn more about their journeys as Makers and entrepreneurs and learn how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.
In our next installment we're catching up with Makers Joe Maiellano and Jack Hubbard, two self-described alcohol enthusiasts from Washington, D.C., who created the HomeMade Gin Kit launched here on The Grommet in June of 2013. Joe and Jack thought about starting their own distillery, but decided that teaching people to make gin was more doable and equally inspiring (we're so glad they did).
What business lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Passion is important. Passion for more than your product (although that is super important as well). You need a passion for perfection and growth. Its important to never be satisfied and always know that you can do better.
What has surprised you most about starting a business?
When we started it was a constant fire drill. We had to grow very fast after the New York Times review and we were forced to expand quicker than was prudent. But we had to do it. And as a team, we figured everything out. And when we did make mistakes (shipping, logistics, etc.) it was important to us to be honest with customers. We were surprised how willing customers were to forgive and accept an apology for a missing package or other issue as long as the apology was done genuinely and we took the right steps to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, too few companies act that way but it creates a real opportunity for companies with good ethics to distinguish themselves from their competitors.
Starting a business is risky. Do you consider yourselves risk takers?
Yes. You need to believe in your product and your business model, and invest your own time and money to make your dream become a reality. But you need to make smart decisions that are based in reality and supported by the numbers.
Do you have any tips for other Makers who are just starting out?
We've had a lot of ideas. Some were stupid. This one worked and has exceeded my wildest expectations. Keep at it, but know when to fold your hand and move on to the next.
To learn more, watch our video of HomeMade Gin Kit here.