Profile on Loft and Bear Vodka with Paul Elliott
What was the inspiration for starting your company/brand?
I've always felt a strong desire to pursue those things that bring you personal fulfillment, regardless of its perceived value in society. When I started writing my business plan for Loft & Bear, it was partially a f*ck you to the philosophy of my parents', and my friends' parents', and their parents' parents' ideology of needing to choose a safe career — a doctor, a lawyer, getting your MBA, etc. I just couldn't subscribe to that thought process, and, at the time, I was the purveyor of many of the good times that those same friends would end up having in between studying and all-nighters for those same higher-education programs.
Vodka was my passion, it was literally what I brought to the table. I thought it would be much cooler to do it for myself. As you grow your business, you build confidence and the comfort to do more of what feels right, thus the give-back aspect of Loft & Bear. Giving and doing the right thing is fundamental. What we do at Loft & Bear is our small piece of that moral obligation.
Tell us about how doing good for people is a key part of the company’s philosophy.
At the core of Loft & Bear is our "distill. drink. donate" program. Under this program, we donate 5% of our gross profits to PATH (People Assisting the Homeless). If you've ever driven through Skid Row in downtown L.A., you know it's absolutely devastating; something no human being should have to endure, especially when it's a stones throw from the current cultural boom that is the Arts District. That said, giving back to an organization such as PATH, whose goals are to reduce the poverty and reverse the downward trend of these types of communities, is paramount. Whether it's moving displaced families into new homes, or participating in community activities, it's an important aspect of Loft & Bear culture to play our part in giving back.
What role does community play in inspiring and helping Loft & Bear Vodka grow?
Family is very important to me. Consequently, I treat my business team like family. These characteristics come out in how we interact in the community, the friendships and business relationships we develop with customers, and ultimately how people perceive Loft & Bear. The community that supports us and has been with us throughout our short journey plays an essential role as we continue to grow. They are our foundation. As a small company, we're always striving to learn more about our customers and continue to enrich their lives, one delicious Loft & Bear cocktail at a time.
What obstacles or challenges have you and your company had to overcome, particularly considering things like social/eco impact or running a small business.
Cashflow, but every business owner knows that already. Honestly, right now we're really trying to hone in on our brand identity. It's tough to lift up the hood and really see what's going on in your business when there are so many moving parts. Societal influence is changing so rapidly due to social media and other platforms; it's really forcing us to know where to double-down and figure out what's at our core as we grow. It's exciting AF, but it makes me a little anxious all the same. The great thing is, we can try to have some fun with what we do. That's why I started this business: to take risks, enjoy the people I work with, provide people with a product/service that they need and enjoy, and hopefully uplift the community and encourage a few others to strike-out and do the same.
What’s next for you and the company?
More fun. More life!