Sobbott (CEO of American Express OPEN).
What a leader. I am so impressed with
American Express to have the wisdom to see
her leadership ability and allow her to make
the decision to support women-owned businesses the way they have. I’m just in awe of
that. You want to talk about brand loyalty.
How are you balancing your business
and personal life?
Some days better than others. Each day is
an opportunity to improve. ;e times that I
know I was the most balanced are when I
haven’t le; intentions undelivered on. Some
days there are de;cits and some credits. ;e
key is not putting off anything that’s too
dinner parties from fresh ingredients. A;er
seeing an ad for a vodka that promoted its
purity and quality based on how many times
they distilled and ;ltered their product, I said
to myself, “Well if it were so pure, instead of
‘cleaning up’ the vodka by ;ltering, they should
start at square one and use all-organic grains.”
;at is when it hit me that it was time to combine organic spirits with my personal approach
to fresh (and mostly organic) cocktails by
starting an all-organic spirits company.
How long have you been in business?
We launched our ;rst product in April 2006.
❋ Allison Evanow Square One Organic Spirits LLC Novato, CA
www.squareonevodka.com Race level: Sprinter
What was your vision?
We really wanted to see both bars/restau-rants and at-home consumers start making
drinks like they cook—using fresh, natural
ingredients instead of the neon-colored faux-;avored mixers that are full of high-fructose
corn syrup. We are more committed every
day when we see the look on consumers’ faces
when they try one of our cocktails made from
What has been your biggest
challenge so far?
Distribution, distribution, distribution.
Wholesale distributors now have thousands of
brands and command a strong margin in order
to distribute your product. Trying to get them
to pay attention to our boutique brand is very
di;cult, yet our small scale does not allow us
to have a lot of our own salespeople and be
pro;table. So we have to be highly involved in
the sales process and make as many direct contacts as we can in order to get our vodka in
front of both bar/restaurant customers and
retail consumers. It’s a long, slow build.
How has Costco helped
you in your business?
Has M3 helped you move your
business to the next plateau?
I have deepened my understanding of
running the ;nancial side of my business,
thanks to a lot of the seminars, webinars and
e-mail boards I have participated in.
We have bought printers, portable hard
drives, printing ink, event supplies and more
from Costco. ;e competitive prices make
me very loyal to Costco, as I need to save
every dollar I can to put into my business.
And, of course, the fact that they accept
DRE W ALTIZER
Having a community of highly skilled
entrepreneurs to whom you can reach out
and seek and share advice is invaluable. I
have learned as much from my fellow M3 sisters as I have from the M3 experts. My M3
colleagues not only support me in my business, they also hold me accountable to continue pushing forward because we all want to
see each other succeed.
When we are supporting a local event with
cocktail services, I o;en buy [much] of my
produce at Costco. Now that there is a larger
o;ering of organic produce, and at extremely
competitive prices, we o;en use Costco citrus,
berries and other fruits for our cocktail events
to contain costs, and have access to fresh ingredients in large quantities. C
Has American Express OPEN been
bene;cial to you in some way?
Race level: Runner
It has been an incredible partnership with
American Express OPEN. ;ey are not just
monetary sponsors of the M3 program, but
have people on sta; who are directly engaged
in helping us grow our business, whether by
providing expertise or in assisting us with
securing credit for our business.
What is your elevator pitch?
I recently put our packaging production
Precious Treasures is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week child-care center. We build long-term relationships within the community by
helping families balance their needs—
children, family lifestyle, work schedules and
adult “free” time—while fostering all aspects
out to bid, and one of the ;rst questions I
asked all the bidding companies was whether
they would accept American Express. ;at is
how important it is to me in my business.
Getting the support from American
Express to help promote our business is an
What is your elevator pitch?
Square One creates, markets and sells
organic spirits. As a pioneer in the category,
we help our customers bring the kitchen to
the bar by focusing on high-quality, sustain-ably produced fresh ingredients in the cocktail glass.
I am a big foodie and wine and spirit
enthusiast. I was already making cocktails for