Musings about distilling, entrepreneurship and other fun
Honest spirits. Local people.
That’s our mantra at Kalamazoo Stillhouse. We make spirits HONESTLY. That is, we start with Michigan grown grain, almost exclusively wheat, and complete every step of the process until bottling on site, using the authentic distilling techniques that our ancestors have used generation after generation. We are LOCAL people. We were born and raised here and there’s no place we’d rather grow our company than our hometown. We are not just locally “grown”, we also source and support local businesses as much as possible. Even our t-shirts are printed down the street.
Our preschool family is one of the coolest groups of people in the world to us. From birthday parties to “so what’s new at the Stillhouse today?” check-ins, to “where do I get one of those t-shirts?”, we’ve not felt more loved and supported by a group of people who were strangers just a few short months ago. That’s one of the reasons why when the annual fundraiser showed up on our calendar, we worked out a way for the Stillhouse to be one of the sponsors of the event. It’s still a little baffling to think of our business being a sponsor of an event but what a great time to foray into giving back via entrepreneurship in Kalamazoo, than the present? I spent years going to summer camps at the Nature Center and then volunteering at the DeLano Homestead through young adulthood. And Nic could spend all day outside whether tinkering with one of his many motorthings, installing car roof racks to carry fun adventure cargo at his “day job” or teaching our girls the basics of picking a great walking stick. It seems quite natural to contribute to our preschool family by joining the fun this way.
Proceeds from the Earth Day event went to further the awesome early childhood development programming that our girls have had the privilege to be a part of since they were tiny. Thank you to all of you who joined us Saturday April 22 (2017) to celebrate Earth Day, our beloved Kalamazoo Nature Center, and our community for some outdoor play and learning time.
We have two “elephants” (six, if you count the fermenters). These tanks are huge and heavy, they’re silver (stainless steel), they sometimes make loud noises, they even have funny feet. See? There really are parallels between our equipment and elephants. But that’s not really where the title of this post came from. The title comes from the question that has been on repeat since we finally said outloud what we were planning on “doing with our time” and maybe even “making a living”: when is the grand opening?
One answer: soon. It’s not really that accurate now, nor will it be accurate in a few weeks because in truth, soon means within our lifetime, but not next week.
Another answer: when the time is right and everything finally falls in to place. Here’s a short list of some of the things we’ve accomplished: buildings purchased, big time demolition and clean out of distillery and hospitality spaces, new entry side door in building, existing bathroom upgrade 85% completed, streetside mural completed, major distilling equipment and boiler 95% installed, had a successful Bronson Park Gin event last Fall, new fire-rated boiler room, permits and licenses all either approved or pre approved (pending final walk throughs), LOTS of branding like business cards, signs, t-shirts, packaging/label approvals etc., 4+ conferences attended to collect information/network, … And here’s a list of what we have yet to accomplish: production, stockpiling sips so we don’t run out too fast, and opening our doors to share our craft.
SO, are we “open yet”? No. And it sure pains us to say so BUT “doing it right” takes a while sometimes, building a business takes time, and so if we hadn’t chosen such a regulated business, the timeline might be different but here we are.
Accomplished, Hopeful, Determined, and Trucking along.