As you already know, at Jar Store, we sell a lot of jars to candle makers and DIY aficionados, but did you know that we also supply premium glassware to a number of other kinds of small business owners?
One of the most unique and interesting small businesses that we work with is AdornWell. Run by Carly Helfrich, AdornWell is an Etsy-based cocktail kit business. Over the past few years, Carly has worked to curate a delectable selection of pre-built cocktail kits in jars that would can suit anyone’s tastes. Whether you’re the type of person who likes to relax with a good book and an Old Fashioned, or you’d rather kick back with a Moscow Mule and a movie; AdornWell has you covered!
I was lucky enough to get a timeslot in Carly’s schedule to speak with her and ask some questions about her business, and I learned a lot about the processes behind running a business on Etsy, crafting cocktail kits, and more; read on below!
All right. So just get it started with an easy one: When you decided to start preparing and selling your cocktail kits, what made you reach the tipping point to kind of get the ball rolling with the business?
Ironically, I didn’t. I started AdornWell as, basically, a home decor company. Long story short, I was laid off from my job. I was working in the fitness industry and, like many of us, lost my job. I found myself at home wondering, “What the heck am I supposed to do now?”
That’s really cool! Yeah, I love I love a good pivot, you know? A lot of really successful companies have done similar things. Like Nintendo started out as a trading card company. They made playing cards, and later pivoted to making video games. Kinda like how you started AdornWell as a home décor company that later became a cocktail kit company. So who knows? Maybe AdornWell is the next Nintendo of the cocktail kit world, you know?
I love the minimal design of your logo. It’s easy to recognize, simple print, and it really captures the essence of what you’re offering.
I think when I look at it pragmatically, to me, it looks like a home on the left side and like almost like an orange or lemon slice on the right side. Am I right about that? And can you tell me a little bit more about the intentions behind the design?
Yeah, you nailed it. I had a friend design the logo after I came up with the name. I, luckily, have a friend who is in graphic design, and we just had a quick conversation about, you know, “what do we want the logo to represent? What is the brand?” You know, at that stage, I was trying to figure out what I wanted the brand to be.
We took this, like, minimal Scandinavian or Norwegian inspiration. Then he just kind of took my words and put them on a paper, presented me with a few different ones and the logo we chose is the one you can see on our Etsy shop today.
So, looking at the Scandinavian culture, they are very minimal. It’s all about, like, making a cozy home. And then he added the orange slice in there because, at the time, I was making dehydrated orange garland, and orange wreaths, and using all of this citrus.
So, that element just kind of like, put my personality into this like, really simple concept.
I love it. Yeah, I kind of I see the runic influence in there for sure. That’s really cool.
Sometimes online businesses can be kind of like slow to start and other times they can explode overnight. How quickly did you find your audience on Etsy and did you ever find yourself overwhelmed in the beginning?
Yes! So, I took what I heard from the Etsy podcast, they were saying “It’s the pandemic. Everyone is having to stay inside and we want these elements of nature to come inside.” And so that’s when I started playing around with the fruits.
I had a dehydrator and I was thinking, you know, “maybe I can start making really great home decor items.” And so that’s kind of how that started. And then, the orange garland sold like crazy, to the point where I took my tiny dehydrator and bought a bigger one, and then two more, and now I have six almost industrial sized dehydrators in my garage.
That’s how overwhelming it was. We couldn’t keep up with the demand at first. I was running to Costco and Walmart and like, any grocery store, to try to find fruit for that first holiday season last year. It was crazy, and it was exhausting, and it was really overwhelming.
But then it stopped. After Christmas, there was nothing, and I found myself wondering “What in the heck am I supposed to do now?” I just spent thousands of dollars on this drying station. I’ve created a monster in my house and the sales stopped.
And that’s when the cocktail kits kind of arose, because I started playing with different ideas and trying to figure out what is the next thing that I think people will want to buy.
And over 3000 sales on Etsy later, it looks like it worked out.
Thank you! Yeah, the first thousand sales were a crazy, like, nine months. Then, the next couple of thousand came like kind of quickly after that. So it was it was a lot to take in, in a short amount of time.
And maybe you’ve got some expansion in your future. Who knows?
Yes, I think about it every day.
So, cocktail making is an art form that has evolved and adapted over generations, you know, fine-tuned over decades of preferences changing and tastes evolving. There are people who have spent their entire lives working behind the bar, who then take the time to mentor an apprentice before they hang up the towel. Do you have any formal training in the field or are you more of a self-taught artisan type?
Ironically, I came into the cocktail business with hardly any experience. It was just, you know, me enjoying cocktails. I never would have considered myself a mixologist, and I don’t have experience bartending. And so I had to take the classics and kind of nail those first and foremost.
So, if you can imagine, my liquor cabinet at home became pretty well-stocked. But my mornings and afternoons were like, “Oh, shoot, I have to try this thing that I’ve created.” So I would be sipping a martini at 9am, just to make sure I’m getting the flavors right.
And it maybe was an early, early work day that day. But I sat down and said, “What are the classic cocktails that everybody can recognize? What are the key flavors?” And so it’s really a self-taught thing at this point.
But I have a few people that I look up to. I don’t have a mentor or anything, but there are a few people that I kind of look to for advice in putting flavors together. And they help me to answer the question of “What is the recognizable taste of each cocktail?”
Having some people to trust with your process is really beneficial! And you seem dedicated to getting all of the flavors right.
All right, cool. As with any art form or trade, there are always going to be purists. Whether it’s a painter who only uses horsehair brushes or a bartender who only uses a specific kind of vodka in their Moscow Mules.
There are always some who insist on a strict adherence to tradition, you know? Have you had any run ins, comments or reviews from any cocktail purists, whether positive or negative?
As I’m selling more, I’m getting more feedback. Most of it is very good and positive, but I have had some customers come back and say it has been bad, but it’s like, you know, “this old fashioned is has too much cinnamon in it.” Or “this Moscow mule would be better with less orange.”
I take all of that to heart. I consider everything. And like I said, I want to keep my flavors mostly classic, but it’s also a new brand. It’s a fun way for anybody at home to start playing around with making cocktails
I will always, always consider it. And I think that’s just a part of doing business.
So what initially led you to Jar Store for the jars that you use, and additionally, what made you decide to continue shopping with our store?
We started using Jar Store for the standard canning jars, because that’s what was readily available to us. So, it was the two piece canning jar, and I remember getting some feedback from a friend and he was saying like, “The product is great!”
I think I gave them our margarita kit. They loved it, but it felt very homemade. And I remember thinking, “Well, it is homemade!” But then after talking about it with my partner, we’re kind of like, “Yeah, we need to get away from the two-piece jar lid and look for more of a circular shape.” So that led us to Jar Store.
It may have just been a canning jar with a solid lid, and we started there and I loved it, but wanted something even more rounded. So I think now we’re using a salsa jar. And it’s been perfect because we also wanted a to distinguish our brand by using a different colored cap, so we choose the gold. And yeah, they’re perfect. They have the two seams on the side where I can line up my label perfectly each time. And the customer service has been so good.
I once had a minor issue, but it was immediately taken care of. Like, customer support was like, “Gosh, we’re so sorry. Here’s how we’re going to fix it.” I needed a lot of jars in like two days and they were here in like twelve hours.
I don’t know how they got here so fast. It’s just been so great to work with you guys. It’s seamless and it’s easy and it’s almost like you know what I need before I even need it.
Excellent. Well, thank you very much, I think that’s the most glowing review I’ve ever heard!
OK, final question. It’s a three-parter, but it’s a fun one. I think you’ll like it. So, I’ll run through a couple of scenarios and you can tell me which cocktail you would order in each scenario.
Assume that beer doesn’t exist in this universe. Okay, so scenario number one, you’re in a dive bar, a local band is playing and you’re with a few of your closest friends. The lighting is dim but bright enough that you can make out most of the scratches and dings on the wobbly table that you’re all gathered around.
It’s 10:30 p.m. and you’re well on your way to a hangover in the morning. But right now you’re having a great time and you can’t be bothered with tomorrow’s problems.
I would probably order a gin and tonic.
Classic. I like it.
All right. Scenario number two: It’s date night and you’re out to dinner wearing an outfit that you’ve been saving for a special occasion. The crowd is of mixed age, ranging from 21 up to some people who look like they broke out of the retirement home and came straight there.
There are no chicken fingers on the menu, and it looks like everyone left their kids at home. You can see behind the bar from where you’re sitting, and you’re definitely impressed with their selection and the waiter asks you what you would like to drink.
I would have to say, probably like a cosmopolitan.
Oh, okay! New York. Yeah. All right. I like it! Final scenario. You’re out at the club. You’ve just arrived. Your friends have already been there for 20 minutes, but they’re acting like they’ve had a three-hour head start.
The DJ sucks, but nobody seems to realize or care. Everyone has already had their drinks and they’re heading towards the dance floor. You’ve got time for one quick stop at the bar before your friends get impatient and you lose them in the crowd.
What are you ordering?
Shot of tequila!
Shot of tequila, all right! Quick and easy, I understand.
Well, that’s that is all my questions. I think you answered them perfectly! Thank you so much for your time.
Yeah, this was so fun!
And that’s our interview with AdornWell! With her unique brand, Carly has carved out a very specific niche on Etsy, and she’s found success in a very impressive way. AdornWell’s cocktail kits make for excellent gifts, whether you’re gifting them to a friend, family member, or even yourself.