Tell us about your career path leading up to starting your own business.
I’ve been in showbiz for 30 plus years and realized I wanted to sell something else beside myself! I started as a go-go dancer in New York City and on my summer break from Parson’s School of Design, I attended the Alvin Ailey summer program and fell in love with dance. I became a professional dancer and actor and performed in music videos for stars like Michael Jackson and Radio Head and was in a national AMEX Commercial. When I moved to Los Angels I wanted to be on SNL and went to the Groundlings and UCB to hone in on my comedy skills. To pay the bills I became an editor and worked for networks like ABC, CBS and NBC. I started writing, directing and producing sketch comedy bits with my friends and we were one of the videos, when no one even knew what YouTube was, to get millions views. No one knew how to monetize YouTube at that time so it became financially harder and harder to produce bits. One of our sketches actually got on the news, which I think is hilarious and no it didn’t go on my resume. I went on to create original web series and short film and was honored to win some awards. During all that, I also made 6 attempts at pop albums that I produced, wrote and preformed live shows, mostly in Los Angeles. Music is definitely my heart beat but, I think my voice kinda sucks in comparison to some of the divas out there.
What made you want to start your own business?
I wanted more control over my career and wanted to be a lot more creative. I have some much energy and like to be challenged. I knew what ever I picked it had to be extraordinary and a head turner. I though about it for many, many years.
How did you go from idea to execution?
VING Vodka was a super sloooowww burn. I knew nothing about the spirits industry so I was really unsure of how to even go about it. I experimented for 3 years with infusions to see if I could even make it taste good and come up with an original recipe. Once I felt like I had something that would be loved by many, I presented it to a retailer. He thought I was crazy because my label was done on my home printer and bumpy and the vodka was green with sediment. But, it tasted great and he saw my vision. He became my mentor and introduced me to a distillery that I went on to work with for one more year to perfect VING Vodka.
What were some unexpected hurdles you faced when starting your business?
The legalities around selling alcohol and distribution are no joke. Understanding all of it was a huge learning curve. Also, I knew the label was going to be instrumental to get across what I was trying to say with my VING brand manifesto. That was painstaking. So when people say they love my label and bottle it means a lot to me. When they tell me I have to work on it, my blood boils a little and sometimes my lip begins to quiver. That being said I respect everyones opinion and maybe some day I’ll change the label.
Best advice you’ve received?
My Mom tells me to take care of myself. I’m still a work in progress.
What does Support Your Local Girl Gang mean to you?
I think this is huge. I’m in the process of getting my female friends who are busisness owners together, just to be together, get advice, complain, cocktail it, and be a local community. Us ladies really feel alone a lot and like the mountain is so high and we are climbing in heals! Coming together is so important and I want to focus on this more in 2020.
Favorite books, podcasts, tools, and or apps:
I listen and read multiple books and podcasts at the same time. Self-help to business to marketing and random pod casts of people I don’t know just to see if I’ll lean something. Here are some that I’m into right now; Snacks Daily, How I Built this, Group Chat, Super Soul Sundays for books Peak: The New Science of Athletes and Head’s Will Roll (I have to listen to anything Kate McKinnon does).