Pink Bench Distilling Story
Troy is Shawna's hometown. A decade ago, she decided to bring her skills and education home to work on local economic development, sustainable agriculture, city government, and to find solutions to an economy transitioning away from mining and logging. And boy, transitions are tough.
Kris came to Troy during the start of those hard transitions 20 years ago, to work with the state and local tribes on wildlife management. She's had direct experience with the thorny issues growing at the crossroads of our forests and towns, like bears raiding apple trees in peoples backyards. And she wanted to be part of the solution, using the assets Troy has to meet the challenges it faces.
Fruit trees are one asset Troy has, and community is another. Using both, Kris and Shawna started an Apple Festival together, complete with an apple press and bear aware activities. Finally a reason to pick and juice those apples before the bears get to them! The Apple Festival is in its 8th year, and has been a win for Troy and for the bears. It’s also revealed a huge untapped source of heirloom apples in the area!
So they got to thinking... What type of business could they craft around that abundance? One that could be financially successful outside of Troy's small local economy.
BUT... Kris is allergic to apples, and had NO interest in apple cider. Surprisingly, though, she CAN drink apple brandy! Brandy is a distilled spirit, so a distillery it would be!
Plus, northwest Montana forests have the most amazing array of plants that are already FDA-approved ingredients in distilled spirits - like elderflower, yarrow, and mountain maple bark. All these plants need healthy, intact ecosystems to thrive.
It turns out, a distillery is THE perfect business to bring everything together:
- Growing local agriculture
- Driving economic progress
- Conserving nature
Over the past 6 years, Shawna and Kris have apprenticed at a successful craft distillery in Kalispell, Montana, learning the ropes of commercial distilling, including product development and distribution, tasting room management, and business reporting. They've also worked with every entrepreneurial resource in Montana to expand their small business expertise and networks.
Kris and Shawna have secured a business premises in the heart of Troy’s old downtown, and renovations are underway that will give this 100-year old building a facelift, and prepare it to house the distillery. The location is just off the highway, on the only road in town that accesses the northern portion of the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness. This location allows for high visibility, safe street parking, and ample outdoor space. And steps from the front door, a paved walking trail leads to Troy's beautiful city park on the banks of the Kootenai River.
Initially, they expect to distribute products within Montana, while also providing Troy with a safe welcoming tasting room that serves high quality cocktails and non-alcoholic mocktails. Because the craft distilling industry has grown exponentially over the past 15 years, they plan to expand distribution across North America in the near future.
Pink Bench Distilling will create and support local jobs that defy the traditional boom and bust model on which Troy was founded. And its sustainable business model will be part of Troy’s transition to a resilient economy and newfound prosperity.
If you'd like to delve deeper into Pink Bench Distilling's business plan...
CLICK HERE TO VIEW AN INTERACTIVE PITCH DECK ON PREZI
This is best viewed on a laptop or desktop computer.
In addition, a PDF of the pitch deck as well as a PDF of the full business plan are available in the Offering section above.
Kristina Boyd provides Pink Bench Distilling financial planning, scientific, technological and logistical expertise. She conducts market and product development, maintains written communications, and interacts with local natural resource agents and wildcrafters.
Kristina was born and raised in Los Angeles. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Humboldt State University with an M.S. in Natural Resource Management. She has 23 years of experience working in all aspects of
natural resource research and management, from repairing broken-down field trucks to building complex databases.
Shawna Kelsey provides Pink Bench Distilling with business planning, networking, and marketing expertise. She conducts market and regulatory research, fulfills operations estimates and purchasing, and maintains the face of the organization with local government officials and business owners.
Shawna was born and raised in Troy, working as a carpenter through high school and during summers in college. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Montana with a B.A. in Anthropology, minoring in International Development.She has 15 years of experience working with local and regional businesses, governments, and schools on community development projects.
*Nothing in her investment offering is presented in her capacity as an elected member of the Troy City Council, nor is it in any way ratified or approved by that governing body.
Bear 106 was born in 1978, and lived her life in the Yaak for 21 years. Her legacy is a lineage of cubs, grandcubs, great-grandcubs, and great-great-grandcubs that includes at least 58 bears, and ALL female grizzly bears currently living in the Yaak can be traced back to her!
Like most bears, Bear 106 and her cubs would have lost about 1/3 of their body weight while denned up in winter. In spring, bears emerge very hungry and eat grasses, tender leaves, roots, berries, insects, and small and large mammals. In fall they get REALLY hungry, and eat about 4x more than usual. That can amount to 20,000 - 50,000 Calories a day! So it's no surprise that they can be attracted to ripe backyard apples, plums and pears.
But there's plenty of food to eat out there in the woods, and bears in people's backyards can lead to fightin' words... or worse. Bear 106 lived her long life avoiding conflict with people. Let her legacy with us be that we help her lineage live long lives as well.