It’s summer and time to dial up the road trips, air pods in the kitchen, and stories that inspire us. On the Simple Pin Podcast we do something fun during the summer months – the Summer Story Series!

This is where we interview entrepreneurs, business owners, and inspiring people to give us a break from the tips and action items. This just allows us to listen to a good story.

Don’t miss an episode of the Summer Story Series! Add a reminder to your calendar and be notified as soon as a new episode is released. Find episode 1 here – Monetizing for Entrepreneurs with Molly Keyser.

person with brown hair smiling with text "entrepreneurship lessons from a brewery owner".

Today we hear from Brenda Crow, a veteran of the specialty food industry and owner of Little Beast Brewery. Brenda talks about the challenges of running a physical business during the pandemic, how she has adapted in an ever-changing market, and how she found her way to where she is.

Kate and Brenda met through Entrepreneurs Organization in Portland, Oregon. Even though Kate runs a business that’s entirely online, and Brenda has a brick and mortar business, they connected over the empathy and understanding that’s required when running a business.

how to change in business

Brenda started her entrepreneurial journey making beaded bracelets for classmates in junior high, and after an unexpected turn of events – from culinary school in Italy to the role of a specialty food buyer in San Francisco, she now owns a brewery in Portland with her husband.

There were several steps along the way, from launching her own internet platform connecting food creators to consumers, to hustling beer to people’s doorsteps through a global pandemic. She started with the idea of showcasing American-made crafted foods and highlighting local ingredients, versus having to order from abroad.

Early on in the pandemic, Brenda knew they were going to need to pivot their business model to stay afloat. They partnered with a canner to bring more canned beers to the shelves, adjusting to the current consumer demand. When people couldn’t go in to a tasting room, they needed another way to try different types of beer.

what’s next?

Moving through this new “post-pandemic” phase, Brenda shared that the challenges are more complex. In the height of 2020, when everything was shut down, the formula was “More Beer –> Retail Shelves”. After things started opening back up, Brenda says that it’s been more challenging to really think through what the consumer wants and needs.

As Brenda says in this interview, the brewery market became a bit saturated during the pandemic. Their business, Little Beast Brewery, decided to focus on what they already did well (and how to make it more effective and efficient). Keeping their products high-quality and intentionally connecting with their customers remains their core focus.

microphone and succulent sitting on tabletop.

One key takeaway from this conversation is that all entrepreneurs look different. While the traditional idea may be that all entrepreneurs just dive in the deep end, Brenda shared that she’s much more risk-averse. She prefers to make careful, analytics-based decisions about her business. She says that there isn’t “one way” to be as a business owner.

I think sometimes I convince myself that I’m an entrepreneur, even though I’ve owned this business since 2017. I don’t fit the archetype of a risk-taker. But sometimes you just have to put one foot before the next and go for it.

Recognizing your own work style and unique personality is so important, versus comparing yourself to others.

To learn more and hear more from Brenda and Little Beast Brewery in Portland, check out their website here or find Little Beast on Instagram.

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