Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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sitting around wondering what to do next with their lives. He had been a corporate media manager, film editor, and cook on a tugboat and was ready for a change. Maybe being a self-described "ardent barf ly" had something to do with his train of thought. The Bitter Housewife is Born "He posited the idea about my bitters," Genevieve says. "My snappy response was, 'We'll call it The Bitter Housewife.'" And so they did. For the record, Genevieve sounds anything but bitter, her conversation punctuated by laughter. She knew there was a hole in the marketplace that she could fill, and the couple registered the business name in 2012. They sold their first few bottles to friends. "I'd never created a product before but loved marketing and branding," Genevieve says. She had studied creative writing in col- lege and graduate school and liked storytell- ing, which served her well in developing an authentic narrative to connect with consum- ers. The packaging she envisioned would be "clean and fresh and modern and a little bit quirky." Dan would deal with operations, sales, and distribution. The couple moved from San Francisco to Portland in 2013. Their son, Dylan, was born the following year. At first, they kept their day jobs (Dan as a consultant for Intel, Genevieve doing public relations for food and beverage companies) while trying to get the Bitter Housewife off the ground. They maxed out their credit cards and then took out private loans. Genevieve worked from a shared commercial kitchen space, mostly needing it for preparation and storage since infusing bitters doesn't require burners. In 2014, Portland's New Seasons Market gave them encouragement, ordering 13 cases of Aromatic Bitters to stock on their shelves. The Brazeltons were eventually able to lease out their own 4,000-square-foot space, enough room for a kitchen, ware- house, office and bottling area. Grapefruit Bitters was the next extract she perfected, finding the refreshing citrus f lavor worked well in sparkling water, sparkling wine, gin, and tequila drinks. Cocktail and Soda Syrups By 2016, the couple found themselves acquir- ing Raft, a Portland startup making cocktail and soda syrups in flavors like Hibiscus Lavender, Lemon Ginger, and Smoked Tea Vanilla. Initially, the Brazeltons had talked to the owners about teaming up on cock- tail kits combining syrups and bitters for Williams-Sonoma since they were more or less talking to the same audience. "They came back to us and said they weren't sure they were interested in con- tinuing and would we be interested in tak- ing over the brand," Genevieve says. "We GENEVIEVE BRAZELTON, CO-FOUNDER/CEO Age: 43 Years in specialty food: 7 Favorite food: It's a toss-up between aged salty Parmigiano-Reggiano or aged Gouda and tomatoes fresh from the garden. Least favorite food: To my husband's chagrin, probably oysters. Last thing I ate and loved: Fresh tortillas and mole, really creamy and nutty, from a local restaurant called Xico. If I weren't in the food business I'd be: Doing some sort of creative marketing for other businesses or photography. One piece of advice I'd give to a new food business: Understand the margins you need to get from day one. My husband figured out how much we'd need for ingredients and distribution and made sure they were built in. We've seen a lot of businesses start to grow and didn't do that. They have to raise their prices and then no one wants to buy it. said 'yes.'" The Brazeltons incorporated as Improper Goods, an umbrella company for the two brands. They soon rolled out seven more syrups, including Citrus Rosemary, Grenadine, Ginger, and Demerara. The company doubled revenue every year through 2017; last year growth leveled out at 15 to 20 percent. Their products are sold in outlets in more than 35 states, Genevieve says, adding, "The first quarter of 2019 has been our most profitable ever, on track to break one million in revenue this year." Cardamom Bitters, with nuances of cinnamon and pepper, was the third variety Genevieve produced for the Bitter Housewife line. She designed it specifically to enhance a baked apple-rum drink. "I thought it might be a one-hit wonder but friends loved that drink so much, I played around with it and discovered it was surprisingly versatile and went really well with bourbon and smoky mezcal and gin," she says. And when her Cardamom Bitters blew away judges at the Summer Fancy Food Show? "Cocktail bitters don't generally win," Genevieve says. "The sofi Gold was shock- ing enough. Then Product of the Year? It's awesome." Julie Besonen writes for The New York Times and is a restaurant columnist for nycgo.com. PHOTO: IMPROPER GOODS, LLC 76 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com producer profile

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