Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Month of Major Milestones

It is really nice when things go more or less as you expect/plan them to, especially when you are in your first year of business. Unlike many of the other winners of the Make Mine a Million award, we were literally in start-up mode when we won, so it was daunting to think how we had to live up to the expectation that we were worthy of the award when we had just started selling our first product only two months before we won the award. But we can now proudly say that we are well on our way. The big stuff that happened in October that makes us really proud:

- We signed distribution deals in NY, NJ and CA with major wholesalers who can take us to the next level in those markets
- We got "listed" in the government controlled states of VA, ID and OR and have a good feeling that WA will say yes to us next week after getting some top cocktail accounts to start carrying us in Seattle in a market blitz we did last week.
- A really nice feature article on Square One and other brands in the spirits world was written by Anthony Dias Blue (one of the premier spirits writers in the country) and the phone started ringing off the hook. Somehow, whether influenced by that article or just the momentum of the all the press we had been getting, without us lifting a finger, we were approved by HQ of Houston's Restaurant Group for placement in all their American concept restaurants across the country - Houston's, Bandera, Gulfstream and some of their invididual concepts. All of a sudden, we are getting calls from Houston's all over the country asking who our distributors were in their state. Well, in most cases, we didn't have one! But because of this huge hit, we signed on with a distributor in TN and in TX when we weren't even planning on being there until 2007! Cool!
- We got another great PR hit with a placement in the November issue (hit newsstands in Mid-Oct.) of O Magazine - yes, that O! We are on pg. 285 in the feature article "Experts Guide" and are recommended as THE vodka to take to a cocktail party as a hostess gift. We have seen some impact on sales, but sadly, can't say that we got the huge hit we were hoping for. Maybe it will come later when the "pass alongs" start happening and the holiday cocktail parties kick into high gear! But we sure were able to leverage it with the trade to get more distribution, which is a GREAT thing!
- This is a public blog, so I won't talk specifics, but suffice it to say that we passed a key sales revenue milestone on schedule, putting us on plan to hit or even surpass our 12 month revenue goals. We still have a ways to go to join the $Million Sales Club that we all are striving for, but as long as we are moving forward, not back, we are happy!
- I finally got some help . . . we are now up to 2 part-time sales people in SF and NYC, and a part-time marketing manager working with me in the office. Whew, I needed that! Still putting in 80-90 hour weeks though!

November is shaping up to be a strong lead-in to the holiday seasons, where products like ours sell up to 60% of their annual sales in the last 6 weeks of the year. We broadened our retail distribution in our two key markets - CA and NY, and there is another BIG BIG BIG media hit coming our way in Mid-Nov. Let's hope it drives sales! And we are the exclusive vodka sponsor of the Environmental Media Awards in Los Angeles on November 8th, with over 1,000 guests from the Hollywood and Major Media crowd who, like us, believe that all companies can do their part to be more eco-sensitive. We are really excited about being there and meeting so many great people who will understand that you can have fun while still being socially conscious!

I was sad to miss the NYC event, but so glad I didn't go in the end. There were so many big things that happened last week, that I simply couldn't have stayed on top of it otherwise. So to the new winners, CONGRATULATIONS and welcome to the Club!

Until next month ladies, happy selling!