Small Business Stories featuring The Whisk Podcast Recap
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Discover the story behind The Whisk, a small business that's making a big impact. From humble beginnings to a thriving online presence, find out how this business succeeded against the odds.
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- 07:39 Managing 2 Entirely Different Businesses
- 09:47 The Importance of Customer Experience
- 12:43 What Motivates You to Keep Running the Business
- 13:46 Food and Music Experience Put Together
- 17:18 Be Prepared for Surprises
- 17:45 Think About Every Experience and Remember How Good That Feels
- 19:01 Don't be too Quick to Think You've Resolved a Problem
- 21:51 Understanding Our Connection as Human Beings
Vincent Aguirre: Hello, everyone. Thank you for tuning in today. My name is Vincent Aguirre. I'm the host of the Small Business Squad, podcast, and Facebook Group. Today I have some good friends with me. We're gonna be talking about the entrepreneurial venture in what we're calling a small business story featuring The Whisk. I'm gonna go ahead and welcome Tosh and Joel Everson.
Tosh Everson: Hi. Good to see you!
Vincent: Yeah, good to see you as well. I'm really excited to talk with you guys today. We go way back. For those of you watching. Way back when I was first starting the business, we talked about building websites, Tosh and Joel are fantastic musical artists and they actually played at my wedding. So that might be a little biased. But today, we're not talking about that. We're talking about The Whisk. Before we get going and we might have lost Joel but it's great, he'll come back. I want to give Tosh first an opportunity. And then Joel when he comes back and opportunities to tell us who they are. Who they are. What's your story? So Tosh, won't you go ahead and jump in?
Joel Everson: Yeah, sure. So as Vince said, I'm Tosh Everson. I am a Greencastle-born and raised gal. My family is from this area, my grandparents are from Kentucky migrated to this area for jobs. And so that's how my family ended up here. Went to Greencastle high school, went to DePauw University, and majored in communication graduated and I'm not telling you the year because then you can figure out and I want to be timeless in your eyes. All of the people who are going to be watching this or listening right now. And after I graduated from DePauw, actually got into the financial world and got my insurance and investment license and worked for Chase Bank for two years, migrated into higher education after that, and have been in higher education for the last 16 years, which is a little bit wild for me to think about like I can't believe it. Most recently, for the last eight years. I've been working at DePauw University, my alma mater, in the Center for Student Engagement. And about maybe four or five years ago, Joel and I really got into whiskey. We love traveling, I think probably traveled once about once a month doing music, going to see music, seeing friends. It's just a passion that we have. And so about four or five years ago, we really got into doing whiskey tastings and doing the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky and all of that. And it just was super fun. And we started collecting. And about maybe two years ago, Joel and I were just having a conversation and I said, you know, what do you think about Greencastle as trying to do a whiskey tasting there? Because we like them so much. And Joel was like, ‘Hey, yes, like I've actually been thinking about that too!' And I think it would be really awesome. And so we kind of just let that ruminate. While we also did other things in the community, I think between us we serve on about 15 boards and are on the executive team, probably half of those. So we're pretty busy and active in the community. During the pandemic, the height of the pandemic, we created the Better Together series which was to help save and serve our local restaurants in which businesses that were doing well during the pandemic could help support them. And then in turn those restaurants would feed frontline workers. And so I feel like we been maybe doing as we're going to talk about the whisk. We've maybe been doing it for longer than we've actually known in a kind of weird way. Because we really do care about the community and want to see everybody succeed and thrive. And so when Wasser closed, we know Chris Weeks, and so we thought maybe now's a good time to test out our idea of this whiskey tasting experience. And so we asked him, ‘Hey, could we run out your space for a Saturday night and try this?' And we did. And Joel, do you want to kind of take it from there?
Joel: Yeah, I want to make sure is there anything specific, Vince? Do you want me to introduce myself before..
Vincent: Yeah, go ahead and introduce yourself and we'll go from there.
Joel: So, my name is Joel Everson. And goodness, I've spent the better part of my adult life in various types of leadership. So, I've pastored churches for just over 20 years. Which again, as Tosh mentioned, don't die. You're not allowed to do the math on any of that stuff. And I spent 15 years in the automotive industry, overseeing dealerships as Director of Operations, and now work at a dental firm as Director of Operations. And so have certainly always kind of had a desire to be involved in leading and helping to cultivate cultures where people can thrive, obviously. And that's something that we're really passionate about. And so, being part of the Greencastle community born and raised as Tosh mentioned, this is home for us. And so when people talk about, you know, ‘Oh, gosh, being part of a small town, don't you ever, you know, want to try something different?' Yeah, we just don't. To be honest, we love Greencastle. And we rather than going somewhere else to find the things that we love, we think, ‘Oh, we could do that here.' We just always, almost maybe what some would call naively that we just think oh, yeah, we could do that. Oh, yeah, that could happen. We're idealists, I think in that way. And so it's Tosh mentioned, we had this thought, hey, why don't we do a whiskey tasting, there's this great space that we love. At Wasser Brewing that isn't being utilized. And so we started with whiskey tasting. And people came. And we always laugh about that when we have played music now, all this time as well, that we're, we never take any of that for granted. That every time we do something, if people show up, we are genuinely, genuinely humbled, and surprised. We assume that by this time, as Tosh mentioned, we're involved in a lot of things that when we walk in the room, you know, people might want to throw rotten vegetables at us to go away, but they don't. They're kind of still being embracing of what we're feeling passionate about.
Vincent: Yeah, that's awesome. So, now that we have the foundation, right of who you are, what you've done, we've talked about the inspiration for The Whisk while you kind of let us into your minds of how's it been, you know, you've done operations, you've worked in education, you've had the band, so you kind of know how that business works. But what's been different about this brick and mortar, you know, this whiskey and event business, what have you learned?
07:39 Managing 2 Entirely Different Businesses
Tosh: Wow, so much. So Joel, and I, our first jobs were serving in the food industry. And so I've waitressed, he's been a server, he has been a host. So as a lot of people, I think in small rural towns do that's kind of your foray into the workforce. And so both of us actually really loved working in restaurants, because we love people. It's kind of like with the band, you know, people are always like, ‘oh, gosh, don't you guys just love playing music?' And the answer is, obviously, yes. But it's more than that. It's the connection that the music gives you to people. And so I think for us, that's, that's kind of what is so glorious about this. But there are so many things that are different from the job that we currently do. Be it inventory, be it, all of the things that the licenses and the permits, and all of the things that you have to do to be an established entity. You know, some of those have been a little bit of a learning curve for us. We've gotten some really, really good advisors who have been just, you know, phenomenal, at giving us advice and giving us guidance and leadership, which I think is so vital, as you're starting something new to have mentors and have people who can really help guide you along the path. I think, you know, the drive the want to the personality, the intentionality is there. But you also have to have those other things. And so I think for us some of the things that go along with owning a business, because you're right, having the band, that's a business, but it's not a physical location. So there's no upkeep, you know, maintenance on a building, things like that, that you have to do, again, inventory that things that you have to have safety concerns, I mean, lots of different things that go into that.
Vincent: Absolutely. Joel, do you have any other way to expand that? Are you kind of on the same page?
09:47 The Importance of Customer Experience
Joel: Yeah, I would say I'm on the same page. I would certainly can't improve on that answer. I would maybe only just add that. It certainly has been something to how do we come at it from the idea of maybe people walking in the door because they know Tosh or I, or our again, being kind. But hopefully, they come back because of what they experience And so you know, that idea, of being really, really willing to listen to people's feedback about what we can do better. You know, not being hard-headed, not being self-centered, or self-aggrandizing of what our ideas of a great experience are. But listen to what people have to say. And recognizing that, you know, that that is the food. You know, there's no question. I always say that, like, if Tosh puts a plate in front of somebody, they're gonna want to come back. I mean, that's just the reality. But it's more than the food. It's more than the whiskey selection. Hopefully, it's a living breathing organism itself. It's this organic environment of community happening in real-time. And to me, they may come for Tosh and I, or they may come for the whiskey or they may come for the chicken and waffles this Saturday. Hopefully, they'll come back for the experience of the community.
Tosh: I was just going to say, I think you know, for us, you know, the name The Whisk, which is The Whisk at Wasser, at this time, is more than just whiskey. It's a play on mixing things up. So it's kind of a double entendre in terms of the name. And we did that intentionally because it is supposed to be a mixing pot. It's supposed to be something that brings people together, in what we kind of see it as a true public house in that way, where you're coming first for the community. And then you also get really great food and great drinks.
Vincent: Well, I have to say, and I do want to talk more about the different events and whatnot and dive deeper. But before we get there, I want to say I did originally I came because I knew you guys, and I saw you posted. I have come back every week since because of how good the food is. So you're executing there. You're executing. Yeah, absolutely. So we kind of talked about, like, you know, the learning curve and what you didn't expect? What has been something that has been, you know, exciting and invigorating, maybe you thought it would be that way. Or maybe you didn't, you had no idea. And then when you open the doors, you realized it. But what is something that you know, is really motivated you or excited you in this experience?
12:43 What Motivates You to Keep Running the Business
Tosh: I think for me, and Joe and I have talked about this. So it may be the same for both of us. But I absolutely love and gain so much energy and hope from seeing somebody come in, who is by themselves. And they walk away, having made friends not feeling alone. And you know, we've gotten several emails messages, just saying, Hey, I just want to let you know, like, I would never come into a bar by myself, but I did because I know you guys, and I met like three different people. And now like, you know, I feel like I have I got to know people and it was such a great experience. So for me, especially in terms of what our hope is for this space that is so invigorating to see because that's life. You know so that's what it is, for me is getting to see people really feel like they're part of something.
13:46 Food and Music Experience Put Together
Joel: Yeah, I think I would I would echo that completely. And really, there are so many things if I could.. to some degree, I think that the Tosh maybe would correct this but I think that the band maybe has been the more seamless overlap of experience even more so than the business experience. And part of that is because you know, obviously playing music you're we're playing in venues like that. So we see things done well or things not going well. We kind of have a bird's eye view of what we usually know when there's a catastrophe in the kitchen before the guests do. So we can see it kind of playing out like this isn't going to be good, you know. But beyond that, those little intense intangibles like, you know, the way we like to do music is that it is an exchange and an interaction. So it's not us on stage singing to people, we're at people, but rather with people. And this environment being that same way that it's not Tosh and I just serving food or drinks to people, but it's an exchange that's happening. And everybody is participating in the environment being what it is the music, the feel the vibe. And that is the I guess it'd be one A and one B, the one B of that with music is that every time we play a show, I can be in the same place and with the same people and feel different. And what needs to happen be different. So we could play in our hometown at a place where we know everybody on a Friday night and everybody is really chill and just want to it needs to be something that is a little more relaxed. Saturday night, everybody may be excited and exuberant, and ready to dance. And you have to, and there's no rhyme or reason. There's literally no rhyme or reason. So we've seen this and experienced this so many times, that we are always talking at the end of you know what event at The Whisk it's the same event, it may be like, you know, man, today, people were just feeling it, and people will order and drinks and ready to go. And other days, it may be like, Oh, man that was? And both I guess what I'm saying is it's the ability to value both sure to find the life and the both of those things. And that really is an ultimately Tosh and I have fun. So, kind of like with music and nobody shows up, we're gonna have a good time. If not, we just kind of go into this. If nobody shows up for one of the events, we're going to have a good time. And so far people have shown up.
Vincent: Yeah, that's awesome. That's so cool that just how the band experience can transcend into something that's not exactly the same, but just that experience adds up. So speaking of experience, I want to ask kind of a two-part question that I really want to jump in for some time for you guys to like pitch all your different events, all your different nights, what you're doing, but the experience is important. You guys haven't had the doors open for a few months now. So that's going to be a two-part question. The first part is, what would you tell yourself? You know, a few months back as you were starting? Or what would you tell someone who is actually in that position starting for themselves right now? But the second part is, what would you tell your future self? Or where do you want to see this? Let's just say two years. So either one of you can go first?
17:18 Be Prepared for Surprises & Think About Every Experience and Remember How Good That Feels
Tosh: I think what I would tell my past self is that no matter how prepared you think you are, there will be surprises. And you can't avoid that that is just the nature of the business. And I think anything new, that's the nature of it, there will be things that you don't know are going to happen, or that you'll need that you didn't realize. So I think I would tell my, my past self that. And I think I would tell my future self that all of the work and the planning, and the organizing, and all of the meetings and the, you know, paperwork, all of the things that go into it. I would remind myself to think about every experience and remember how good that feels. And let that carry you into all of the minutiae of owning a business. And, you know, having something that you really are passionate about because we really are this isn't… I don't think it I don't think you would do something like this if you weren't, I mean because it is so much work. There's so much work that goes into it. And I think Chris who currently, he's the owner of the building and is that the head brewer at Wasser would tell you there are just a million and one things that have to happen. And you just have to take them future-self one bite at a time.
19:01 Don't be too Quick to Think You've Resolved a Problem
Joel: Boy, that was a fantastic answer. I think I would say the same with my past self is that don't be too quick to think you've resolved a problem. Because it really is has been a learning curve to think about it's like you know, we this one thing is fixed or resolved and I'm thinking about you know, beer lines and these things that are very new, I mean, we're just walking in trying to figure it out. And, I so just taking it one step at a time and reminding myself as I go through it. What I have learned is people are so gracious and forgiving and willing to go on that journey with you. If you'll invite them into that journey. But allowing you know, in some ways trying to put on the mask of everything is fine and inside be like freaking out. You know, it doesn't work. And people know the difference. And so people are willing to go on the journey and people are willing to be forgiving, and people are willing to wait on a beer because it's taken twice as long to pour because it's full of foam. Because there's something wrong with the line, you know? And you thought you fixed it and all that stuff. And people will wait, people will be okay. And my future self, I think I would just say is just, yeah, remember to, I really want to hold on every single time we have an event. There are opportunities to have conversations with people that just leave me enamored, hopeful with humanity, and grateful that there are good people and kind people and loving people and men every single time I walk away thinking that and so I hope and pray that cynicism never finds its way into that.
Vincent: That's awesome. That's incredible. So I'm going to switch up the format here. And either one of you, I really want one or both of you just kind of talk about all the things you have going on, you know, kind of an elevator pitch, why people should come out what's going on why you're excited. And take this until all the time we need I just really want you to have this opportunity to just share that message and Joel kind of put you there first, but either one of us swap you out.
Joel: I actually would like Tosh to go first if that's okay. She's led so far and done so well.
Tosh: Thank you. Um, yeah, so…
Vincent: Quick message. I'm so sorry to interrupt you. I just wanted you to see that before you got started.
21:51 Understanding Our Connection as Human Beings
Joel: Oh, yay! Yes. What an encouragement. Thank you so much for saying that. So, I think elevator pitch-wise, we would say you know, right now, this is a work in progress. We are, hoping that all the stars align for this to be something that is a staple in Greencastle. Again, right now we're managing a Wasser as The Whisk. And so, all the things need to align for that to be something that is permanent, but we're hopeful that that's going to happen. This is a unique experience or a unique place. And that is what we're thinking The Whisk is really, as I said, a public house, which is a gathering space for people to experience authentic human connection. That is our goal, again, with good food and good drinks as a secondary or as an also to this really great space and place of connection that we're trying to foster for people. The way that we're doing that is we have curated experiences. And so all of the times that we've been open, which we try to have a consistent schedule, even though we're not open, every day 11 to 10. All of our experiences we try to do consistently, same time, same day, every week. They're themed so that, you know, we are leading into our space with intention. And so for example, on Wednesday nights, we have our happy hour, which you know, happy hours fun and I think a lot of people like going to a happy hour that our happy hour is served with a side of self-care. So there's a component to it that is intentional, to help think about different things for our personhood. So we've done things like gratitude journaling, meditation and massage and laughter knights, and adult coloring books, all these things that try to get to what our real goal is, and that's our humanity. And I've said this a thousand and one times, and I'll continue to say it every chance I get. But the more we understand how connected we are, the less harm we do to each other. And so if we can get that? Get to that place, boy, what a better community what a better world we have. And so really, that's it. That's the elevator pitch.
Joel: So, we do have, we've been using this word a lot, but experiences and so, we've tried to give people an idea of what that is themed, or what that focus might be what that experience is going to feel like. And so our Wednesday night, Happy Hour is called our unwind as Tosh mentioned that served with a side of self-care. We do have a Friday night Hangout. Friday night tends to be a little maybe a little more lively that beat as you kind of move your way into the weekend. And then, so far, we're really fortunate a lot of people then turn around and spend their Saturday morning, or early afternoon with us for our Saturday brunch. And again, that's something that is unique. We love the other spaces and local businesses in Greencastle the other restaurants, we support them and encourage everyone to continue to support them. What we want to do is to find carve out a space that maybe isn't currently there. And so that we can continue to promote and support other businesses and what they're providing. But we try to really model this idea of an experience. And it doesn't mean if you come in on a Wednesday night and you don't feel like coloring that you're just required to color we will not serve you a cocktail until you color. It is absolutely optional. But it is geared that way. And everything, again, from the music to the lighting to the drinks that are served to the conversation that's had tries to cater for those environments to happen. We also were having at least a couple of times a month at regular whiskey tasting experiences in which we have curated flights of whiskey to do a guided tasting, usually, those are about an hour long. And usually, around 20 People are so in each kind of group or class, it's a great opportunity for people to learn, I love that we usually have about a 50/50 mix of people who like whiskey and people who don't really know what it is. And so that is so much fun to be able to talk about this uniquely ‘American Spirit'. We always say that whiskey is meant to be shared and not saved. It is a communal spirit. It's something that is so unique. And is meant to bring people around to share a bottle or share a pour. And then I think maybe Tosh if you want to talk about our JEDI, cuz I think we don't we have a JEDI experience coming up this Sunday actually.
Tosh: We Do! Yeah. So, one of the things that we are passionate about is obviously community but justice and equity. And so we have this once a month event called ‘Kids Culture'. And what Kids Culture is, it is a time of learning, where we trained to be Jedi. And JEDI is Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. And so it's teaching kids up to age 10, about those things in ways that they understand that make sense to them. And that is fun. Again, as we understand our humanity and our connection, we do less harm. And so if we can start teaching kids early in that way and being able to share stories, I think is so important – story matters. And so we, part of our time together, we spend about an hour, it's a free event is we read a book, and we talk about other cultures. Our last book was Birthdays Around The World, where we talked about 17 different cultures and how children around the world celebrate their birthdays in many different ways than we do here in America. And so, we have an activity and snacks and we play games, and it's just a really fun way for kids to learn about justice. And so JEDI is one of my favorite events. I'm always exhausted afterward, because I'm typically dancing with the kids and playing and doing all the things but I love seeing them recognize it's like that light bulb that goes off that like, ‘Oh, there are so many differences and they're not wrong.' So it's really cool. And that's one of the ways that we want to give back to the community. It's a free event like I said because we do care about the people, our neighbors, the people we live with.
Vincent: Yeah, that's awesome. That is so awesome. We did get another message and put that up on the screen real quick. Really appreciate that, Jared. I'll speak for myself. I love you too. I'm sure they love you as well.
Tosh: Thank you! We love you and Shelby and Xavier.
Vincent: So, before we sign off, how can people get ahold of you? How can they learn more?
Tosh: Yeah. So obviously we are at Wasser. That's the building the location. We are online on Facebook under the Wasser Brewing Company, Facebook page. At the Whisky Ever Since is our Instagram handle. We are working on a website currently. So hopefully, we're in round one of edit. So like honestly, hopefully, it's going to be available soon. You can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Joel, is there anything I'm missing?
Joel: I don't think so I would definitely encourage folks to… So, one of the things that have been really fun for us is the Instagram page allows us to not only post what's going to be happening, events, things like that but also glimpses into what we're doing and what we're dreaming about. And what's fun and, and Instagram is a great platform to allow that to happen. So follow us there. And we tend to do, you know, share some of our favorite bottles or special things that we run across. And so yeah, we certainly love to connect with folks in that way.
Vincent: Yeah. That's awesome. Well, thank you both for joining me today. You're welcome back anytime you want to do this or just let me know. I'll definitely see you, a minimum on Saturday, but I really appreciate your time. Guys have a good day!
Joel: Thank you so much we appreciate it, Vince!
Josh: Such a pleasure Vince!
Vince: Yeah, for sure. All right, take care!
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