It’s Women Crush Wednesday and we are crushing hard on Laura Johnson, founder and head distiller of California’s first destination distilleRY,
Why do we love her?
Not only is she smart, a female badass, and the kind of friend that back in the days of binge drinking would intervene with a homemade cocktail of deliciousness for you, BUT she’s also a fu%$ing magical entrepreneurial unicorn! She’s this rare breed of awesomeness who directly after college, went straight to where her curiosities led her.
If you’re like most of the entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed, the story goes something like this.
- Graduate from college
- Not a damn clue what you want to do
- Accept the first job which gives you the finest cubicle and proximity to the break room.
- Realize you’re miserable in your cubicle and no matter what picture you taped up on your two-foot wall, Fido, Mom, Dad, and your niece do not make the situation better.
- You bust your ass to do something else, anything else, during every spare moment you get.
- After many years of taking it from the man; You grow some cajones, take the plunge, and go after where your interests guide you.
Sound familiar? Well Laura the magical entrepreneurial unicorn that she is, skipped all that. And even cooler, her “aha” moment began in Cuba. After a trip to the Havana Club Distillery with her father, she knew she wanted to further pursue her hobby of craft making.
“After college, I spent the next 9-10 months traveling the states visiting distilleries, doing workshops, and masterclasses. I knocked on doors and reached out to distillers whom I admired.”
Her greatest challenge was when she returned to California and tried to get a job in a male dominated industry such as distilling.
“Most of the jobs out there were in tasting rooms and on the sales and marketing side. I wanted to be in a production position getting more hands-on experience by distilling and creating products. There weren’t many people offering me the chance to prove myself.”
When life doesn’t offer you what you want, you create it.
So, she created the hands on experience for herself in the platform of Distillerista. We did mention she was smart, right? Through her blog, Distillerista which focused on craft distillers and Laura’s homemade creations, she paved her way to her goal; California’s first urban destination distillery, You and Yours Distilling Co. She spent the next three years raising capital and pitching her vision for You & Yours which had been sparked by her initial journey throughout distilleries in the United States.
“I noticed there was a huge disconnect between craft distilling and hospitality. My hospitality-minded urge was to create something in which, from the moment you walked in the door you felt taken cared of, welcomed, and appreciated. Your distilling education would be a purely joyful experience.”
You and Yours has two offerings: Sunday Gin and Y&Y Vodka. When asked which one is her favorite, “My favorite child is my baby, my Sunday Gin.”
What’s fascinating about Laura, is how someone so young, directly out of college, could be brutally focused in her goals. She had a curiosity to further investigate her hobby, craft making. And she’s our Women Crush Wednesday BOSS because she infused that curiosity with discipline, fortitude in a male dominated industry, and her keen business instincts to follow the best business advice she ever received “Stop doubting yourself. Just go for it.” Laura went for it alright!
Our interview ended with a promise, I who am not a gin drinker made a vow based on her self-professed motivation.
“I want to set our visitors on the path to explore other flavors; Help them to develop their palate. If every time you go out, you’re just drinking grapefruit IPAs, branch out. Put that down and figure out what you like… If everyone was in a position to pursue their creative passions the world would be a better place. The fact that I get to pursue what I love and share what I’m passionate about with others, is the dream. “
I, a member of The Roc Shop, do solemnly swear, the next gin I drink will be that of the passionate creator of You & Yours Distilling Co., Ms. Laura Johnson. I would consider it a privilege to be educated by someone with that much passion for her Sunday Gin.
-Contributor, Tatiana DeMoreas
You can visit You & Yours Distilling Co. at 1495 G St, San Diego, CA 92101 | Follow Laura on IG: @youandyourssd
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