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Darryl Reece Of Stock Da Bar Vodka: 5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food or Beverage Brand

…To avoid those errors, fully educate yourself in every aspect of the industry you are in.

As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food or Beverage Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daryl Reece, co-founder of Stock Da Bar Spirits and Vodka.

Darryl Reece and his wife Deborah founded Stock Da Bar (SDB) in 2010. SDB Vodka is a locally made premium spirit that was created with the purpose of bringing passionate people together to celebrate life’s special moments.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I grew up in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Growing up, I remember that my life was filled with love. While my mom and Dad were not a couple, the parenting and affection that I received from both of them was phenomenal. I always remember my dad picking me up to take my brother, Desie, who does not have the same mother as me, and I to the local Rec Center or the YMCA. What was so great about this was he would always take us and few other kids all together. I mention this because my dad involving other kids in our time together taught me how very important helping and teaching kids is. I believe that this is the most important thing that I can do for the youth today. My dad taught me a lot growing up, and showed my brother and I how to dress, shower, and take care of ourselves as kids. These are some of my best memories from my childhood.

Can you share with us the story of the “ah ha” moment that led to the creation of the food brand you are leading?

Stock Da Bar Started more a decade ago as a concept for an annual party where friends and colleagues from across the state of Michigan would come together. Each person would bring a bottle to “Stock Da Bar.” Every year the party grew bigger and bigger and we were soon able to bring good people together to do good for our community, our personal relationships and for one night — just have a lot of fun.

Throughout this process, our “ah ha” moment that lead to the creation of our beverage brand, was when I started creating videos of the event and in our community, introducing people that looked like me or came from the type of environment I come from. There was no one who looked like me that owned a liquor company. As I looked at all the bottles that were brought to stock the bar. I also realized that we did not have any representation of a spirit brand that was started in our community or built by and for our community. I wanted to change that. And, I am happy that I did.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made when I first started was assuming that I was just selling bottles of alcohol and I could sell them to any and everyone. I learned that above all else, it is a business and has to be officially setup as one. Otherwise, selling bottles is illegal. There is a process for everything. I have learned so much about business and distribution in terms of taxes and legalities the last two years. Regulation is very real. My early mistakes further opened my mind and interest into diving in more to the business model and quickly learning what to do and not to do.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a food line? What can be done to avoid those errors?

To be honest, I don’t know any common mistakes that people make when starting a Spirit beverage line, because I don’t personally know of anyone else that has started one. But, I can assume the mistakes people make when starting a spirit line is that they truly do not understand the overall business. It is so very important to educate yourself before jumping in and making an investment. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of regulation and government rules to be aware of, even business owners who have been there in different sectors of industries are still learning everyday when it comes to the spirt/wine industry. To avoid those errors, fully educate yourself in every aspect of the industry you are in.

Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to produce. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

The first steps I would recommend someone to take before they produce or launch a product, is to completely educate yourself on the business and the laws of the specific state where you will begin production. Next, be sure to surround yourself with knowledgeable partners who specialize in the key areas of business that are necessary to support your own skills and abilities. It is also very valuable to find yourself a good mentor in the industry, someone that is willing to walk the journey with you throughout the start-up and early stages.

Many people have good ideas all the time. But some people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How would you encourage someone to overcome this hurdle?

I would encourage someone to find a mentor in the field that you are going into. I would shadow them and continually read up on every aspect of the business you are going into. Looking back, that’s what I didn’t have along the way. Having a mentor can make an absolute difference in your success or your failure.

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

I personally would recommend that they hire a consultant, get a mentor and find someone with knowledge in the field that they would like to get in to. Even though it is possible, I believe that it is just too hard to strike out on their own, without first surrounding yourself with others who have succeeded in similar ventures.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

My thoughts about bootstrapping vs venture capital, is that if you are bootstrapping you have to get creative in your approach to marketing and advertising. If you have capital venture, you are obviously able to do things faster and on a more significant level, but just because you spend the money doesn’t mean what you spend it on will work or be successful. I compare this to the example of being independent opposed to being signed to a major record label. At independent labels you have to work hard and be creative. Capital venture, they may do all the major work, but the difference is, bootstrapping you don’t owe anyone. You don’t have to answer to anyone. I don’t know which is necessarily better. I suppose it depends on the individual. I am out here each and everyday connecting, grinding and trying to further develop and position our Stock Da Bar brand.

Can you share thoughts from your experience about how to file a patent, how to source good raw ingredients, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer or distributor?

My experience has shown me that ultimately you need to hire lawyers, or the right consultants to properly handle the patent and trademark aspects of your brand. In the end, the expense will be worth it. My philosophy is that i’d much rather pay a fee than I fine. As it relates to ingredients, I recommend working with someone to develop the right recipe using the best ingredients — and make them uniquely yours. It is also very important to research distributors and find one that fits what you need. Do your research on available retailers and contact and visit them over and over again until you feel comfortable and assured that they will be your best partner.

Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food or Beverage Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

First, “JUMP”. I decided to jump into this venture by reading many books on taking a leap of faith. I read the Daymond John book, “The Power of Broke”. I also read Steve Harvey’s book “Jump”. These two books made me take the leap, as well as my faith in God.

Secondly, be consistent. Use every resource you have. In the era we are in now, with social media, we have to pound the pavement and work 10 times as hard if we want 10 times the results. As the Grant Cardone books says, “The 10x rule. I take time out every morning, an hour, and map out what I’m going to share on social media.

Third, study the business and study your competition. I commit to learning about all top-shelf and low-shelf Vodkas everyday. I read about their history, etc. I also, research about the laws in my state about alcohol. Educate yourself and put yourself at an advantage of those who do not properly prepare.

Fourth, you have to email, call and visit the retailers you want to carry your product, every day. I take an hour every morning and contact each retailer that I want to partner with. I do this everyday until I get a response, yes or no. If I get a no response, I keep contacting until they agree to meet with me. When I meet with my them, I try to figure out a way that I can help them and their business, because it’s not about just our brand, but building a long-lasting relationship.

Lastly, I stay obsessed. The Grant Cardone book, “Be Obsessed or Be Average”, I have read it three times. I take no days off and I stay focused. I work hard. No one will ever out work me. I woke up everyday for 10 months and educated myself on branding, selling and how to be a giver. I did this before our brand launched. I prayed, I meditated and then I read.

Can you share your ideas about how to create a product that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?

My idea on how to create a product that people would love and be crazy about, is to be passionate about it yourself first. If you are passionate enough about something, I believe you will work harder and commit yourself to making that product successful.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We consider our events and our product an extension of our communities. That’s why we give a portion of our proceeds from our events, sales and merchandise to The Boys & Girls Clubs throughout southwest Michigan.

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I have been blown away by the support from everyday people who believe in our vision and brand. I hope to inspire people to dream big and know whatever color they are, wherever they are from, whatever language they speak or what their background is, that anything is truly possible.

I hope when a young black boy from the neighborhood I grew up in sees “Mr. Stock Da Bar” building a global brand and deliberately giving back to others and helping our communities, he is inspired to do it too. To inspire the next generation and find new ways to bring good people together to do the most good! And, to do this while drinking responsibly.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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