As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Vicktor Stevenson.
Vicktor Stevenson is an entrepreneur who put himself through bartending school while doing popups around the Bay area to make his dream come true; he accomplished all this while working full-time as a hairstylist. Vicktor doesn’t do anything halfway: he created a word that will redefine lemonade and also designed his own branding and labels with his wife. Vicktor gets up at 4:30 every morning to begin squeezing lemons to fulfill online orders. Providing fresh real lemonade is his passion and the proof is delicious citrus based beverages get yours at www.Gourmonade.com
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I began my entrepreneurial journey as a barber and then session Hairstylist. Providing a service where everything you do has an immediate consequence made me fall in love with the craft and helped me hone my attention to detail and take my customer service to another level. I did everything in the hair industry from owning a salon, cutting and styling celebrities, styled hair for the Grammy’s and award shows and even styled Princess Jasmine from Aladdin on Broadway in New York city. The idea of Gourmonade came about during a snow storm in New York city around 2014 when imagining thoughts of sipping on fresh lemonade on a beach to mentally take us to summer time to cope with our brisk reality. The idea became a craving and as I contemplated walking to the bodega (corner store in NYC) I opted not to go because I knew I would be disappointed by the lemonade options they would have available. The options would be too sweet, filled with chemicals or artificially tasting. A light bulb went off and I immediately wanted to have a better offer of lemonade for my community and the more I looked into it for the world.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take always’ you learned from that?
When I first started building recipes for Gourmonade I had no idea there was “ a right way” so I just followed my instinct and went with it. We started as a to-order company so I only had two 16oz to go recipes which were Gourmonade and Jasmine Palmer. The process included a bartender shaker tin, ice and an ice scoop along with our liquid ingredients. About a year into the business we were approached by a local restaurant and they asked us if we bottled Gourmonade and can they have an order of 90 bottles in two days. Without a bottle recipe or even a bottle to put Gourmonade in we said yes. I filled 90 bottles myself by making everyone to order the same way I would one to order cup to ensure the taste was consistent. 70 bottles sold on the first day. This experience has taught me to trust myself and while there may be a “right way” execution of my vision is most important and that I need to build a bulk recipe.
**Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain? **
4th Edition of The small business startup guide by Hal Root and Steve Koenig.
The internet is a great tool but can also provide you with so much information that it becomes overwhelming.
I wanted a clear concise guide on the actual things I should consider and need to execute in my state to build the foundation for my business and wanted to do that old school with a tangible book. The small business startup guide helped me to relieve anxiety about what my first steps should be.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose? The inspirational spark for Gourmonade was the realization that the beverage options available in my community would do more harm than good. Gourmonade ‘s sole purpose is to provide delicious fresh quality lemonade year round and to redefine the expectations people have for lemonade. Gourmonade will replace lemonade all together becoming a household name and staple beverage for refrigerators everywhere.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Never Give Up. As a solopreneur its extremely tough but I’ve learned to embrace the up’s and downs because it is just part of the process to reach any goal.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
My family comes first and so I immediately ceased operations about two weeks before we actually went in quarantine to protect my myself and my family from getting Covid-19.
Covid-19 was scariest because my wife has asthma we have a two year old son and my father in law who just recently celebrated his 71st birthday is also diabetic. I was the only one my entire family depended on to go out and to get supplies and I was super paranoid about bringing Covid-19 home. The mental stress that played was horrible l would self-quarantine myself every time I came home from shopping if I felt a tickle in my throat . My number one goal was to be as thorough as possible when going out to keep my family safe when I came back in our home. To make it even more stressful collectively we lost over 50 people from covid-19.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
The biggest and most heart breaking challenge we had to deal with was the decision to let our brick and mortar location go. It was painful to watch all of my hard work come to a halt. To address the challenge we repositioned our entire business to online. We are now taking orders for next day delivery scheduling pickups in San Francisco and Oakland and shipping around the country.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I just simply encouraged everyone to be positive and made myself available as much as possible. I would check in on y my friends and family and they would check in on my family and I.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
I do believe opportunity will be present post covid-19 as were forced to think both critically and creatively about how we can live our lives as normally as possible but as safely as possible the creation of new ways of operating and inventions will organically come about.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
I hope that the Covid pandemic has taught people to be prepared to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. Covid 19 showed us that people need people. I hope that there is a permanent respect and appreciation for everyone regardless of their job title , race or color.
**Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy? **
Gourmonade has always been about the people about and our immediate community. The only reason were still able to survive is because we have built a strong foundation with our local community. We want to get even more solid here at home fist because that’s our foundation.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do? Get active in your community send emails or direct messages to get in touch. People make the world go round.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Do it right or don’t do it at all. I’m from The Bronx New York City where if you’re not doing the best you possibly can the people will tell quick word will spread and people will not conduct business with you. Reputation is all you have and Quality is job one. Do it right or don’t do it at all holds me accountable holds me to a standard and has literally has guided me my entire life personally and professionally.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Please visit our site Gourmonade.com, our social media Facebook, IG, Twitter : Gourmonade