Every shade has a story. And the inspiration for our Mixology Collection stemmed from something deeper than an iconic cocktail or drink-inspired hue. It was inspired by the people behind each of the shades and libations, the skilled bartenders who pour their passion, energy and creativity into every concoction we drink and every glass we raise.
What inspired you to explore bartending?
A: It was a combination of things. My parents raised me and my brothers to really appreciate good food and good drinks. And so that was something that always influenced my life. And around the same time that I turned 21, I was dating a chef and got to experience the food and beverage culture in a new way. It really created a sense of community for me that I had not really experienced before. And so the moment I stepped behind the bar, it was lights out from there.
Do you consider bartending a personal passion?
Yes, I would consider bartending a passion. As I get further into my career, I’m better at understanding how to have other passions. That’s something that I didn’t have in my life for a while.
What do you love most about your profession?
The thing that I love most about bartending and having that as my career is the opportunity to see the world. Through bartending, I’ve traveled to Europe, to Mexico. To experience different cultures and meet different people. I think that that’s probably one of my favorite things, but I also love creativity. Getting to make things and work with my hands has kept me happy and fulfilled in this career.
Do you consider hair color a form of self expression?
Hair color is definitely a form of self-expression. In high school, I started using box dye. My hair was always a weird red color. I actually remember going blonde for the first time when I was 16 and thinking it was going to look terrible and now, I’ve been blonde for 15 years.
As far as fantasy hair color goes, I really, really like pink. I feel like myself in pink hair, and I think it’s a good color for my skin tone.
Have you ever been judged because of the way you look?
Yeah. There’s certainly been times where I felt I was maybe judged or treated differently because of having my own personal style, certainly with tattoos. Bartending in the South I worked at a place that told me I needed to wear a long sleeve shirt to bartend every day, regardless of the season. But I just didn’t stay there. I quit. I remember thinking it was just total bullshit that I would work in a career that’s an art and not be able to express myself.
How did it feel to be nominated for Bartender of the Year?
It was a really awesome experience. I’m a person that’s very goal oriented. And it was a big career goal of mine to be recognized in that way. It was definitely an honor to be nominated for that.
You were also named as one of Forbes Food & Beverage 30 under 30?
Yeah. It was pretty crazy and certainly not expected. There’s always a little bit of imposter syndrome when things like that happen. It was the week of my 29th birthday so it was pretty surreal and such an honor.
What’s the most ridiculous thing someone has asked you or said to you while you’re on the job?
One time, I had to ask a gentleman to stop doing pushups in the middle of the bar. He barked at me like a dog on his way out the door.
What’s it like being a woman in the industry?
I get that question a lot. Honestly, it’s hard to answer because I don’t know what it’s like to be a man in this industry. But I feel really lucky. When I started bartending, I was surrounded by a lot of female chefs and strong women. So my experience as a bartender hasn’t been isolating. I’ve always felt like I really belonged, never like an outsider. Even patrons, for the most part, have treated me with the same respect. Once in a while I get the ”Can you send the bartender over?” because they assume I am not one. But it’s pretty infrequent.
Is there anything you wish you could change about your profession?
I’d love to make bartending more physically sustainable. It’s a really demanding job. Last Sunday night at the bar, I walked six miles. So it’s a lot.
It’s hard to have work-life balance when you work until 3:00 a.m. and you also want to live a normal life. It’s a massive problem. And it’s not a simple one to change.
What are your personal passions and do they play a role in how you express yourself to the world?
I love riding motorcycles and for a long time my personal passion was yoga. I am learning to find other ways to express my fitness passions, just because of some injuries from bartending. So doing spin and things like that, but yoga has been a massive part of my life. I’ve actually practiced yoga for longer than I’ve been blonde, for 16 years. So that’s a big one for me.
So yeah, they play a role in how I express myself for sure. I obviously want to be viewed as a bad bitch that rides a motorcycle and practices yoga when she’s not behind the bar, 100%.
Tell us about your company, Focus On Health
So Focus On Health is a company that I started with Lauren Paylor. We are finding ways to advocate for and provide programming to the bartending community or the hospitality community as a whole. So whether you work as a bartender or server, a dishwasher or a cook, we recognize that it’s really hard to take care of yourself in this industry, especially when you serve other people.
Focus On Health centers around our five pillars of wellness, which are physical, mental, social, environmental and financial. So we looked at wellbeing as a holistic entity and broke it into five different sections in which you can improve your wellbeing. So whether that’s your physical wellness and exercising, physical therapy, whatever it may be. Mental wellness and talking about therapy or anything like that. Social being literally the social community you surround yourself with. Environmental being your environmental wellness, the earth and sustainability in that way. And then financial as well because especially when you work in hospitality and as a bartender or server, you often have unstable forms of income being tips, or maybe you take cash home at the end of the night. So a lot of people that work in this industry are also young and haven’t been taught how to save money or whatever it may be. So talking about those things as well and providing a little bit more education for those that want it.
What are the biggest challenges people in the food and beverage industry are facing right now?
The biggest challenges are definitely physical, mental and financial. Physical being working a 10 to 12 hour shift where you can’t sit down or take a break to pee or eat food. That kind of stuff will destroy your body. Also, the mental aspect of working for tips. Being told by the people that you’re serving that your worth is based on the value they decide. That can be really difficult. So is working for owners that can be mentally, emotionally abusive as well, so that’s a big challenge. A big issue for me in the industry right now is working for tips. And how do we find a different way to pay people that work in our industry because it’s a flawed antiquated system and racist.
Before COVID I think I felt moderately passionately about that. I thought tips still sucked, but in COVID times working for tips, made that really apparent. Putting your own wellbeing and health on the line to serve people a $16 cocktail felt shitty and then to be not tipped well by those people for it, certainly heightened it and also brought in that mental wellness aspect. But tipping stems from when slavery was abolished and white people were still trying to find ways to get labor for free. So people that often were house slaves ended up working in restaurants and got paid no money and worked for tips. And it’s a pretty flawed and fucked up system. I started bartending in Tennessee where the minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 cents an hour. And it still is.
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