Each week, we like to introduce you to another maker or artisan who’s making waves in our ongoing “Meet the Maker” series. This week, we have the honor of introducing you to Kaylee of Iconic Cocktail Co., who’s making waves and shaking up cocktails as she goes!
As the founder of Iconic Cocktail Co., we imagine that her job involves lots of experimental sipping, and we’re 100% down for that. Read on to learn more about how good business girls help keep Kaylee afloat and why she’s reverse-engineering the opening of a bar by launching a specialty cocktail syrup business!
Kaylee Nedley of Iconic Cocktail Co
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Kaylee: While at college, I found myself struggling with job satisfaction. I switched my majors every semester hoping to find a career path that felt right to me. It wasn’t until I landed on my fifth and final major of Filmmaking, I found what made me feel most fulfilled–producing. Starting a business is a lot like making a movie, it’s a new idea that needs to be propelled into reality. When Matt and I started dreaming about what Iconic Cocktail could ultimately turn into, the leap came pretty naturally to me and before I knew it, I was playing producer full-time in this little production of ours.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Kaylee: We create an opportunity for cocktail lovers to experiment at home. Our cocktail mixers were designed for creativity. We make them fresh in small batches every single week so you’re getting an ultra-fresh product every time. If you’re experienced, the mixer can just be a layer in your cocktail or if you’ve never mixed a cocktail before in your life, the mixer can lead you to a kickass drink with a few simple steps. Within my job role, I feel like I’m creating a resource for people to try new things with recipe content and cocktail stories. And all of the content is coming from a combination of the things I learn first hand from Matt (a seasoned bartender) and knowledge I’ve acquired along the way as a home bartender. (read: If I can do it, anyone can.)
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Kaylee: Our products are sold on our website at www.iconiccocktail.com and we have a handful of wholesale partners that stock the shelves. If you live in Phoenix, we sell at the Farmers Markets every Saturday and we hope to be opening our own bar/retail account in the very near future.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Kaylee: When we first got started, we wanted Iconic to be a cocktail catering business. The whole reason we started this business was so we could figure out how to open a bar (they’re expensive.) So we started backward and asked ourselves what we could do that had little overhead. It was after the first or second catering event that we realized we could bottle up these really delicious syrups Matt had developed and encourage people to recreate the cocktail at home. Iconic is still a stepping stone for us to get to that bar but I never thought it would grow into the business it is today.
LBC: Walk us through a typical workday
Kaylee: Every day is a little different. We have done a really great job of defining certain days for certain tasks. For example: every Wednesday, Matt and our production team are making mixers. We ship orders out on Tuesdays and Fridays. Saturdays we’re selling mixers at the markets. We take Sundays and Mondays off. Bless. My typical workday is mostly filled with operations and “checking shit done off a list.” I handle Branding/Marketing and Finances for the business so I’m either working on budgets and spreadsheets or I’m taking photos and designing cocktail recipes for a new blog post. I would have to credit a lot of my daily success to spreadsheets, my Golden Coil, and Wunderlist.
LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Kaylee: The number one thing I would suggest new entrepreneurs consider when starting a business is how they want to measure success. Figure out what success looks like for you. If they want a make a ton of money and be a billionaire, I can’t really offer any honest advice. But if they want a work-life balance where they have control over their schedule, travel, and be fulfilled with healthy relationships all around, I would definitely have a personal heart-to-heart to ask yourself what kind of life you’d want to live before starting the business. Second would be getting yourself a kickass group of friends that hold you accountable and where you can share successes, failures, and ask for advice. Third would be, read Profit First.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Kaylee: When I’m overwhelmed, I love making a list. Or if I already have a list and I still feel overwhelmed, I like to organize that list into obtainable categories (which basically means: take shit off that list altogether and make it smaller.) When overwhelmed, I work really well with an hour by hour schedule and giving myself 90 minutes blocks to tackle the task at hand. When I know that I have dedicated time in the future to work on certain things, I can stay really focused… and when that doesn’t work, I pour myself a cocktail and tell myself “there’s always tomorrow” and I talk through the overwhelming feelings with my incredible group of friends and my partner in crime.
LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.
Kaylee: The best business decision I’ve made to date actually just happened a few weeks ago as I write this. It’s fresh and I’m honestly getting emotional as I type. I run my business with the love of my life. Matt complements my skillset in ways that still surprises me after three years of business and six years of being together. We started going to couple’s therapy to learn how to better communicate. It’s natural that business is a hot topic since it’s what we’ve been doing for more than half the time we’ve been together. The best business decision I made was choosing to go to couples therapy with Matt. In a short amount of time, our partnership has become the strongest it has ever been, we’ve been able to define jobs roles that work for both of us and make work so enjoyable, and we’re laying down some serious foundation as we grow this business (the first of many businesses, I believe.)
LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?
Kaylee: It’s hard to call this one a misstep, but it was probably the fact the quit my job too early. We set ourselves some attainable sales goals in order to quit and we hit those pretty quickly so I decided to take the leap and leave my serving job. Two things happen when you quit your day job: Nothing holds you back but everything depends on you. I am proud that I was able to pay myself a livable wage the first year of business but if I could do it differently, I would figure out how to keep my day job so I would be able to funnel more money into the business. I overcame this by hustling harder than ever and being intentional with our business budget as well as our personal budget.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Kaylee: The first thing: Podcasts that inspire me like Marie Forleo, How I Built This, and Hey You Did It.
Second: A group of business owners who support you and hold you accountable.
Third: The quote “Getting it done is better than getting it perfect.”
LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Kaylee: In a few years, I hope to be settled in a production space that hosts our offices and headquarters. The plan is to have a spirit-free bar (to start) and retail space as well. I predict that we’ll roll into a second location or-who knows- just be happy in the one location. I hope to have a strong team and foster a community for people to explore creativity in beverages.
LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?
Kaylee: I’m such a fangirl of Lela Barker and Lucky Break. I’ve taken a few classes and I am an avid Instagram follower. I love catching a live video or an inspirational story. I often chat with my dear friend, Samantha of Standard Wax about our love for Lela. I truly appreciate the resources Lucky Break has created for her clients. It makes you feel like you’re not alone.
LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?
Kaylee: Oh, I’m always willing to learn from others. I’m a student at heart. There are so many benefits from being open to learning more. I believe that you function with a filter on. Once you tap a new area or something you didn’t pay attention to before, your filter immediately expands and you are able to get so much more out of life.
LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?
Kaylee: My favorite quote is from my dad, it’s a true “Nedley-ism” it goes: “I’m always just exactly the way I am right now.” It’s basically a bunch of nonsense but it reminds me to just be in the present and enjoy where I am at.
LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?
Kaylee: If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be for sure without a doubt, sushi. Give me all of the raw fish, rice, sake, and ginger, please.
Thank you, Kaylee, for sharing your talent with us. We absolutely love what you’re doing with Iconic Cocktail Co, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!