Chaunci King is the Founder and CEO of Royalty Spirits, which includes a line of CBD cocktail mixers, Miru Vodka, and Rex Whiskey, a rye whiskey aged in Bordeaux and Burgundy wine barrels from the Pacific Northwest. She can best be described as a “serial entrepreneur,” as she also owns several other businesses including a CBD juice bar in the Pacific Northwest, a hotbed of both beverage and cannabis culture.
BW: When did you realize you wanted to start your own beverage alcohol business?
CK: I’ve worked in corporate America for many years as an HR specialist, but I am a bartender by trade. I would have women come in, just talk about having a nice fruity cocktail, but not necessarily syrupy sweet with sugar. At that moment, I thought it might be nice to have something that’s created by us for us, that’s not heavy and syrupy, but still have a great flavor. So that was my a-ha moment.
BW: What does a typical day look like for you?
CK: I’m always on email in the field a lot too, just trying to place new accounts. I’m always in meetings, whether it’s distributors trying to get my products picked up and placed in large supply chains or training staff to do ambassador training, which is sampling our products in stores in different markets. I do it all. Today I’m actually filling in, I own a CBD juice bar, and someone call out. So I’m here.
BW: What was the most unexpected thing you learned trying to bring a whiskey brand to market?
CK: I thought, hey, all I have to do is get in the hands of the right person, and I’m gonna be rich. And it definitely doesn’t work like that. You have to really make sure you have a budget, with a heavy emphasis on the marketing budget.
BW: What advice do you have for women who want to start their own whiskey brand?
CK: I would say make sure that you have a really tight budget, that you really have the funding to support ongoing marketing. Do your research, as far as your target market, do your research, far as your location, or where you want to sell your products. Make sure you have a solid team.
BW: Tell me about your perfect whiskey weekend in Portland, Oregon.
CK: A private lounge, sampling and drinking whiskey with cigars, a cigar roller, nice music, just a kick-back place.
Photos Courtesy of Chaunci King