952
10 min 6 sec

“Not Your Grandfather’s Scotch”: American Woman Starts Global Whisky Brand

A graphic designer falls in love with scotch—building an international whisky brand with money she’d originally saved for couples counseling.
Alcohol Branding High Profit Manufacturing Product

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What It's About

When one door closes, this designer heads to the liquor store…

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Recipe Development & Marketing
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
High

Words of Wisdom

Here are some great words of wisdom from Carin:

"If you are working your full-time job like I was doing, then write down how much money you think you will need to get going, including your salary. Write that number down. And then triple it. Don't quit your day job until you have that in savings so that you can really move forward full force with your business when you are ready."

Fun Fact

SIA means the number 6 in Scottish Gaelic, which just so happens to be both Carin’s favorite number and her birthday. She liked that it’s short and easy to say too because a lot of Scotch names are very intimidating to people.

Notes from Chris

Episode 952
Creative Director and Graphic Designer Carin Luna-Ostaseski was fresh out of a breakup when a friend introduced her to the next love of her life: Scotch Whisky. After years of tossing back uninspiring gin and tonics, it was truly love at first sip.

Carin had previously set aside money for weekly couples counseling, but after that door closed, the money was burning a hole in her pocket. Fortunately, where one door closes, another one opens … and that open door just happened to be a whisky shop conveniently located right next door to her workplace.

Thus began a new kind of therapy session. Every Friday, she’d walk in and buy two or three beautiful, expensive bottles of Scotch. As any therapist would tell you, hobbies are a healthy and productive way to deal with a breakup—and what’s building a collection if not a hobby?

After a while, Carin says she became quite the connoisseur, with 300 glistening bottles of Scotch lining her shelves. There was something exciting about trying out a new bottle—taking the time to note the subtle differences and flavors—and sharing them with others.

But she quickly discovered that her love of good Scotch was not as universal as she thought. To Carin, the superior nature of Scotch whisky was as clear as the golden Scotch in her tumbler, but she found that most people in her age group did not share her opinion. They told her that Scotch was their grandfather’s drink, or that it tasted like gasoline and burnt their nostrils.

Shocked by the reactions of her peers, Carin was determined to bring a love of Scotch to a younger demographic. The question, though, was “How?”

Her work as a Creative Director was incredibly demanding. Also, she already had a side hustle as a freelance graphic designer. Carin’s schedule was almost as airtight as an aging cask! But true love conquers all—even the busiest of work schedules.

After tossing around the idea for a bit, she decided that the best course of action was to host tastings. Her first event drew a pretty great crowd but after being billed as a “Scotch Tasting,” Carin found that it drew people who already liked Scotch, which wasn’t her goal.

She soon discovered that people were ready for a new whisky, one that would completely change the way people think about Scotch. A whisky that is affordable, accessible, and of course, delicious.

And Carin needed something new too. Day after day, she was stuck behind a computer desk making designs so that people could stare at their phones all day. She wanted to be the woman to bring this new whisky to the table—or, you know, the bar.

Just a few months after launching SIA Scotch, Carin left her job to focus on her side hustle full-time. She realized that this new venture wasn’t something that she could do halfway—but she also says that starting it before leaving her job gave her the confidence to move forward.

Today, the SIA Scotch brand continues to grow. After selling a few hundred cases in year one, the brand has grown at least 20-30% each year. In the past twelve months, Carin’s one time hustle has seen a massive jump in growth of over 150%.

Carin is working every day to share her love of scotch and make SIA the world’s favorite Scotch whisky. And to think … it all started from a breakup.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • SIA Scotch: Drink up more about this intoxicating side hustle over on Carin's website!
  • WordPress: Carin used WordPress to set up her site, and here you can learn how to install your own WordPress site in 5 minutes
  SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"When you work for a company, sometimes you get beaten down and sometimes you think it's your identity—that this is just what you do. But when you start a side hustle, you do everything. That part is empowering, it shows you that you’re not just what you thought you were.​​"
—Carin Luna-Ostaseski #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau