Raising the Bar for Skincare and Men’s Grooming with Artisanal Products by Whiskey, Ink and Lace
Whenever we launch a new category in Hubba I like to pay attention to the new brands coming in. Mostly because I really love brands and their stories. A great brand has a personality and most of the time that personality is a reflection of its founder.
Whiskey, Ink and Lace caught my eye because the story was cool but beyond cool, its founder Andi reminds me a lot of myself. She drinks a lot of Whiskey, I barely drink any alcohol. She has a lot of tattoos and the only art I have on my body is my resemblance to Tom Selleck. She wears a lot of lace and so do I. See? We are like twins except she is way cooler than me.
Please take a read of our interview as Andi of Whiskey, Ink and Lace is someone you need to know about.
SC- Tell us a little about yourself?
W – I’m a maker with a penchant for good whiskey and an itch for traveling. I’m a bit of a serial entrepreneur, but I’m trying to channel my itch for creating new businesses into a drive to create new sub-brands and product lines, instead. I have a wide range of interests that have ended up being reflected in our wide range of products. We currently have 4 brands: Whiskey, Ink, & Lace (our main brand, skincare, haircare, men’s grooming), Whiskey Wicks (wood wick soy wax candles inspired by places all over America), Whiskey Whiskers (pet care), and Whiskey Run (vegan and organic sports care products).
The original name, Whiskey, Ink, & Lace was just based off of me and my interests…. I drink a lot of whiskey, I have a lot of ink, and I wear a lot of lace. My nickname is Whiskey, so that has stuck as the mainstay of our brands and sub-brands. A fun, lesser known fact about me is that I’m actually a competitive female bodybuilder, hence the sports product line. I compete in the figure category as a natural bodybuilder.
Where did the idea for Whiskey, Ink and Lace come from?
For about 8 years, I ran my own little marketing business, and 3 years ago I had a client that I was writing Pinterest-type DIY articles for. It started with food recipes, making candy and cupcakes from scratch, etc. But then they asked me to start making bath and body goods recipe articles, so I began experimenting with some things, and posted about it on my business’ page. I had a couple fans ask if they could purchase the stuff I made and I was like… “Yes, you can give me money…” I had run and worked in lots of service businesses but had never done much with retail, so it was a new experience, and I loved the challenge of diving into running a manufacturing and retail business. I have always been personally conscious of ingredients in my food and products, so naturally the products I manufactured were all natural and carefully researched.
You have had a really interesting career path with your entrepreneur journey starting at 16. How did that shape Whiskey and Lace?
It definitely has been an interesting journey getting here. Every little bit of it has helped, though. Running my marketing and design business for 8 years has strongly influenced my business’ branding, and it has helped the business out a lot since I am still the only designer and developer making all of the labels and web sites. Even my short year of running a skateboard magazine has strongly influenced how Whiskey, Ink, and Lace has come about, if only because it was a year of a lot of bumps, bruises, mistakes and learning experiences. I mostly learned a lot about finances from that business, because it turns out there’s not a lot of money being thrown around these days in the print magazine industry or skate industry. Whodathunk…
Has natural been something you’ve always been interested?
I have always been health conscious and aware of the ingredients in the products I purchase and consume. I became a vegetarian when I went off to college because I was concerned about the food industry and all the little things that get buried in ingredients lists or not mentioned at all. I later converted to paleo, mostly to add meat protein back into my diet for health reasons and to help with my fitness career, but I appreciate the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, so we are slowly converting all of our products to vegan ingredients.
Was creating a sustainable products brand always the focus?
Definitely. I think it’s good practice to always look big picture, and that includes seeing the footprint that my business makes on the economy, the environment, and socially. I hope that as the business grows, we will be able to do more to give back in those three areas, specifically. I feel a responsibility as a business owner to help the community however possible, and that includes carefully sourcing our ingredients and caring for our environment, locally and globally.
You have travelled and lived in a few different places. How did this help shape Whiskey, Ink and Lace products? Or did this not effect anything?
I have always had a strong sense of wanderlust. If anything, owning and operating Whiskey, Ink, & Lace is the first and only thing to have ever tied me down to one place, and yet I’ve still managed to move it to multiple states, once across the country from North Carolina to Portland, OR, and the second time just from Portland to Seattle, WA. Running the business now, with having had travelled the country many times, I don’t understand how some business owners operate without having seen the country.
I like getting orders in from small towns in upstate New York or the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina and knowing that area and the demographics from firsthand experience. It helps me understand how to better tailor our products and the whole Whiskey, Ink, & Lace “experience” to better fit our customers. I hope that as the business grows and stabilizes, I’ll be able to do more traveling, but for the sake of the business now. I want to take the business to expos all over the country to meet more of our customers in those areas, and also travel to all of the hundreds of boutiques in the US and abroad that carry our products, as well as others that could potentially carry us.
What is the product you would suggest to someone like me who is just being exposed to your brand now?
That changes on the daily, because every day I find myself falling in love and gushing about a different product of ours. There are so many to choose from. Today, I want to tell everyone and their mom and neighbor about our new Whiskey Wicks Nashville Bar Wood Wick Candle. We just blended the fragrance last week, and I’m in love. It’s a Tennessee whiskey and cedar essence, to represent the beloved dive bar scene in Nashville. The blend of those scents creates a sweet, woodsy scent that I think everyone will love. It makes me nostalgic.
The best parts of it are the crackling wick and soy wax, though. The wood wick crackles while it burns, like a little fireplace. And soy wax doesn’t get hot like other candle wax; if you blow out the candle and stick your finger in the melted wax, it doesn’t hurt, and the wax can be used like a lotion. You just rub it into your skin and you can smell like your favorite Whiskey Wicks candle.
Whiskey, Ink and Lace currently has over 200 products available online globally. Thats a huge accomplishment, whats the next level you wish to get to? is Big Box Retail interesting to you?
Honestly, I can’t stop making new products. I plan on launching at least another 40 this year. I have 10 already written on the board outside my office. We are adjusting our business a little for some big plans, though. Big Box Retail is definitely a possibility. I’m adjusting our systems so that we can scale up without losing the “handcrafted” part of our business. I hope to always maintain the handcrafted processes while still being able to produce large amounts for orders.
I’m a maker, so that’s important to me, and I always want to employ a team of makers who like to get their hands dirty. I don’t want there ever to be a part of the production process that doesn’t have one of our team’s (clean) fingers all over it, literally.
What is the one thing you’ve learned along your journey building Whiskey, Ink and Lace that you would share with someone starting today?
Find a mentor. And I say this, having not found one for myself yet. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts from my favorite business people all day, every day as a substitution for now. But if you can find someone who has already made the mistakes of starting a business, learn from their mistakes!
Don’t bother with making them yourself if you can learn from someone else’s. You’ll make enough on your own, trust me. And on that note, don’t give up when things look bleak. Just remember that most businesses fail in their first 5 years; you don’t have to. It just means those first years will be rough and the strong keep going.
Do you work with bloggers or influencers?
Not nearly as much as I want to! We are looking to do so more in 2016!
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