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DirectHERy Dozen

Meet Prairie Rose, a Los Angeles-based cocktail and spirits writer, events producer, marketer, consultant, and gal about town. The Bit by a Fox blog won Saveur Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Best Cocktail Blog in 2014, just under a year after launching, and it’s been full speed ahead ever since!

Prairie continues to explore the world of booze by discovering the hottest drinking trends at home and at the bar, profiling distilleries across the country (and world), and interviewing and collaborating with industry experts and influencers around the globe. Get to know her in our latest edition of the DirectHERy Dozen Q&A!

1. Give us a little background about yourself and your business.

As a creative, I consider all of my life experiences, challenges and interests as important as my education, training and assorted jobs. They’ve all contributed to who I am and have made what I do especially unique.

I studied theater at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, continued training in London at the Royal National Theatre, and then made the move to New York City, where, as a young actress, I became more acquainted with the restaurant and bar industry than anything else at the time! But it was on the floors of chaotic midtown bistros and bars where my wine and spirits education first took root. Even after I decided to put my creative pursuits aside in favor of a corporate gig, I continued my wine and spirits studies formally through the international Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

That corporate day job, however, exposed me to an entirely new world that would prove extremely beneficial to my future pursuits - high level magazine marketing. During my decade-long stint at Time Inc. in the Consumer Marketing Department, primarily working on People Magazine, I was privy to some of the most innovative marketing campaigns in publishing. I had access to some of the top trend forecasters and consulting agencies in the world. And I witnessed, firsthand, the shift from print to digital storytelling and the power of social media. It was also during this time that I was able to establish the side hustle that would eventually be my primary focus. I finished the Advanced Level in Wine and Spirits at the WSET, and on the heels of the cocktail and small batch spirits revival, I worked with local distilleries and boutique liquor stores to produce cocktail events around Manhattan and Brooklyn. In 2013 I created a blog devoted to cocktails, spirits and drinking culture called Bit by a Fox. Just under a year after launching, Bit by a Fox won Saveur Magazine Readers’ Choice Best Cocktail Blog. This award instantly created a level of legitimacy for what I’d been so passionate about while also making the blog a powerful platform from which I could work from. After nearly three years of working what seemed like three jobs at once, I made the decision to move my side hustle to center stage.

Three years ago, I left my corporate job, packed up my New York City life, moved my HQs to Los Angeles, and set my sights on projects in and around the food & drink, travel, lifestyle and entertainment space - with an emphasis on the modern craft cocktail movement. These past few years I’ve worked with a variety of top level brands on everything from social media strategy, brand marketing, campaign concepts, content creation, brand partnerships and curated cocktail event production.

As a by-product of my work with the blog, I’ve hosted on-going cocktail segments with Al Roker’s production company, judged international cocktail competitions, and have had the chance to meet with, interview and work alongside some of the top bartenders, master distillers and tastemakers in the industry. A year ago I launched the Bit by a Fox Podcast which is an extension of the brand.

2.  Is this your first business venture?

One of the reasons I got into seriously studying spirits and cocktails and familiarizing myself with the industry in the first place, is because I had plans to open a brick and mortar bar business in Brooklyn with a partner. Our concept helped us to win a nationwide contest celebrating female entrepreneurs, sponsored by Bayer Healthcare and Daily Candy in honor of the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. We received a small amount of seed money and some media exposure, and were featured alongside other notable women (including Gloria Steinem) in an online photo collection by legendary portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz. That business, unfortunately, never came to fruition, but I knew that the insane amount of work and research that went into it was still incredibly valuable. I wanted to leverage my years of research and knowledge of the rapidly changing spirits landscape, as well as share with the world the cocktail recipes that I’d created for the business. There was also a sudden surge of interest in all things cocktail-related at the time. From my research, I knew that there was potentially a growing audience that might be interested in what I had to share….so, the Bit By a Fox blog was born!

3. Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? If not, what was the event that changed your mind about becoming an entrepreneur?

I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I think a lot of creatives do! But it wasn’t until I shifted away from pursuing acting fulltime and I started focusing on other things that brought me joy, that I opened myself up to forming a business of my own.

4. What has been your biggest challenge? 

The biggest challenge has probably been monetizing what I do. I’ve been lucky to be involved with high profile campaigns, and have had access to the top brands and personalities in this business, however I still battle getting compensated as much as I should for my expertise.

5. What has been a success? 

I found that my passion and hard work ended up paying off early on with a legitimate platform that gave me a voice in this sector of the food and drink world.

6. Did you have a business mentor or was there a woman/women in your life that you could rely on for guidance while navigating entrepreneurship? 

I’ve always had amazing women around me that continue to inspire me. A lot of them happen to work in different industries. I had primarily female bosses while I was at Time Inc. and they were incredible sources of inspiration. They also helped to lift me up in my side hustle while I was there, even though it might have been a distraction at times!

7. Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My biggest influence and inspiration has always been my mother. She was a single parent at a young age who didn’t have it easy. She has shown me my entire life what is it to be capable and resourceful and adaptable to uncomfortable situations. My curiosity about the world, ability to connect to people easily, and roll with the punches attitude, comes directly from her. Also, Oprah. Who’s NOT inspired by Oprah!

8. How do you stay focused and motivated during those times when being a business owner can feel overwhelming.

I’m a big fan of list making, setting goals and mapping things out on the calendar. Organization calms me! I also love connecting to other like-minded women and business owners. I’m constantly inspired by ladies succeeding and lifting each other up.

9.  How do you choose the people you surround yourself with, within your business?

I’ve always been attracted to smart, positive people, and that goes for who I prefer to work with as well. Sometimes I meet them through other friends, business colleagues, or random events. I’ve found the people I generally gravitate to in this business tend to be ‘connectors’ like myself.

10. What is your biggest piece of advice for women starting a business?

Just jump in. Setting a plan for yourself is great but I find that women are more hesitant to get the ball rolling when it comes to forming their own business than men are. There’s a lot of self doubt and insecurities that creep in when thinking about starting, but know that it will never be that perfect thing that lives in your head. You don’t have to know how to get to Z. Just dive in and prepare to pivot when things get challenging. Also, say YES to a lot of stuff in the beginning. This may be an unpopular opinion, but, get that exposure, work for little to no money, give stuff away (that will make it worth it in the long run). A little generosity can go a long way when you are first starting out. And then get PAID.

11. As women business owners, we are often tasked with “doing it all” in regards to work life and our personal lives; do you think this is a realistic expectation?

Of course not! Work smarter, not harder is what I’m STILL trying to learn. Knowing when to delegate and let go of tasks that are not a priority are key. It’s sometimes harder for us to let go of “doing it all”, but we are not being fair to ourselves or those around us if we don’t. In the end, don’t sweat the small stuff and constantly evaluate your priorities.

12. Favorite quote, song or poem.

I have a few!

“I have a deeply hidden and inarticulate desire for something
beyond the daily life.”
- Virginia Woolf

"Become who you are."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If you have a great gift, you have to find a way to use it to enrich as many people as possible. You start with your own circle of family and friends, and you take care of them, and then you spread it out. It's the only way to achieve any sense of happiness or purpose in life, and an unhappy person is of no value whatsoever. I know what I'm talking about, believe me! I wasted a lot of time looking for happiness through every imaginable channel except the one that has made me happy today: giving, animating, forcing people to act for the betterment of other people."
-Elizabeth Taylor

"Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."
- Dorothy Parker

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