Today on the blog is my friend, Natalie, owner of Beer Feelings and Rocky Mountains Brew Runs. I met Natalie through a local Facebook group. We scheduled a zoom call for a 1:1 and we connected right away. We talked for hours about life, entrepreneur life, our dogs, and beer of course!
Grab a nice cold glass of beer, sit on a comfy chair and get to know Natalie!
I love stories. What’s your story?
I’ve always struggled in knowing what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up’.
I went to college for a dual degree in theatrical costume design and electrical engineering because I received scholarships for both. After discovering both industries weren’t for me, I switched my major four times, extended my stay at the University of Wyoming an extra year and graduated with a BS in Finance with minors in Theater, Banking and Financial Systems, as well as Economics.
After graduating I felt that I hit growth ceilings in my corporate jobs. I’d figure out the basic responsibilities and instead of finding comfort in the predictable day to day, I would get itchy for more. More responsibly, more diversity, more of….. SOMETHING. Even in ‘fun’ industries or ’employee-centered’ corporate cultures I longed to have a job that was both analytical AND creative, big picture AND involved in the details. After seeing this pattern in a handful of roles in different industries, I knew it was time to try something totally different.
At the end of 2019 with a few beers in my system and lots of encouragement from my community I decided to go off on my own. I purchased the business that I interned for while I was in college, Rocky Mountain Brew Runs, and had big dreams of how 2020 would play out.
Not surprisingly – 2020 didn’t go as planned. What started as a year of sold out in person events quickly crumbled into the year of ‘the pivot’. After trying different styles of virtual events with little success, I decided to shift my focus to content creation. I quickly learned that my unapologetic style of creating videos and approach to beer was relatable for many and decided that I needed to take advantage of this newfound strength. After trying a number of different products throughout the year, Beer Feelings was born!
Some days I miss the ease of predictably, but for the most part I LOVE the wild ride that is operating my own business.
Tell me about your business?
Right now I own and operate two beer themed businesses.
Rocky Mountain Brew Runs is a Denver based 5k running series. We host monthly fun runs at breweries around town and then play beer games when everyone returns back from their 3.1 mile journey. All of our events have big personalities and bold themes. We invite all fitness levels from just starting to super-pro to join us for an unforgettable time.
Right now we are holding monthly virtual challenges through the colder months and plan to come back with our full scale events starting in May of 2021.
Beer Feelings is a community where women become friends, share and learn about craft beer, and support small business. Our mission is to cultivate a kickass world where gal pals are unapologetically themselves, live in the moment, and grow to love tasty brews. We just started offering Beer Feelings Relaxation Kits as well as different tasting workshops.
We do a variety of different things, but our newest product is the Beer Feelings Relaxation Kit! In our debut kit we wanted to help you create your own personal beer oasis. Turn off your notifications, get the kids a sitter, put on your comfy pants, and kick back with us. The Beer Feelings Relaxation Kit includes:
BEER FEELINGS SPECIALTY PINT GLASS – Level up your beer game with a glass that’s as magnificent as you HOP INFUSED CLAY FACE MASK – Escape to the luxurious mountain spa you’ve been dreaming of BEER INFUSED LIP BALM – Kiss chapped lips goodbye with the grown up version of your favorite warm vanilla flavor STOUT VANILLA SUGAR – Rim your pint glass, throw it in your favorite brownie recipe, live your best life
All personal care and spice blend products are created locally in Denver, CO by our friends at glow + gather.
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
In the same way that I struggled in deciding on a college major, I had a hard time finding a role to match my personality while working for larger organizations. I have strong analytical skills also but enjoy doing creative work. Larger organizations seem to depend on employees having a specific skill set and being able to rinse and repeat instead of hopping from one team to another.
I much prefer having an ever changing role with new challenges each day. Sure, some days I wish work was a little more straight forward, but I know that I will never get bored working for myself.
Who is your ideal client?
Rocky Mountain Brew Runs is for anyone looking to fill their weekends with a little extra fun. Our running/walking routes are fit for all fitness levels and the breweries we work with are great for beer newbies and craft brew snobs alike.
Beer Feelings is targeted towards women who are new to the craft beer space. Those who think they only like one specific style or who feel a little overwhelmed shopping for a new beer at the liquor store.
As an entrepreneur we face a lot of challenges, what has been your biggest challenge?
The constant need to pivot the business was probably my biggest challenge in my first year. When I was leaving corporate life I expected to face unexpected expenses, the occasional not so nice customer, and bad weather influencing my events, but I never imagine the world shutting down in 2020.
I was open to adapting my business model, but the constant changing as we learned more about the scope of the pandemic was exhausting. The hardest part for me was being in a scenario that no one had experienced before. There was no guidebook or masterclass that I could read or take to learn from other’s lessons – this one I had to face on my own.
What has been you biggest accomplishment in your business?
I’m not sure that I have a singular big accomplishment or if it’s lots of little accomplishments that I’m most proud of. Seeing the smiles of our participants faces at our brew runs or watching someone get excited about a beer that they thought they wouldn’t like always makes all of the hard work and late nights worth it.
What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself as an entrepreneur?
I thought I was really great at time management, but I was actually just really great at burning the candle at both ends and grinding until all of my work was done. Now that I’m the wearer of many hats instead of only one, I’m learning the importance of working smarter instead of harder, batching different tasks throughout my day, and knowing that it’s OK to not answer all emails that come in right away.
What advice would you give someone who just started or wants to become an entrepreneur?
I would tell them to make sure to either invest time or a little bit of money in doing some market research before hopping in head first to a new venture. Often times I think that my own ideas are PURE GOLD, but I’ve learned that it’s important to take the time to determine if there is an actual need for that service or product.
Market research could be interviewing friends and family, posting a survey on your social media accounts, or hiring a firm that specializes in doing this type of work.
Share one fun fact about yourself?
I really didn’t like beer at all when I first tried it – I thought it tasted like bread water. It took a few very kind beertenders to introduce me to the right styles of craft beer for me to start opening my mind to this beverage.
What’s your favorite quote?
“Never regret anything because at one time it was exactly what you wanted.”
— Marilyn Monroe
How can my readers connect with you?
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LYDIA GILLIS PHOTOGRAPHY is Denver based and Destination Wedding Photographer, Seniors and Personal Branding Photographer.