loft & bear Vodka takes on Vodka industry with Downtown LA loft distillery
Paul Ryan Elliott, 31, took on his dream and created his own Vodka distillery and brand. As the CEO and Founder of loft & bear Vodka, he has won 11 awards and now has his vodka in Whole Foods, Target and Vons.
Business runs in Elliott’s family and he always knew that he wanted to have one. He owned a construction business with his mother after graduating college which gave him the tools to build his own brand. When thinking about what he would like sell, Vodka became the solid choice.
“Lots of drinking, lots of alcohol consumption is what inspired the choice,” said Elliott. “I used to be the one who always bought all the liquor for my friends. I didn’t make a lot of money but I was like, “hey we’re going to have a good time, let’s do it.””
One of Elliott’s first thoughts was that there weren’t many people who look like him in the distillery business. He had already researched different ways to make liquor and had been successful in making some for his friends and family, so he took the next steps to get a permit. The biggest thing that he needed to get the permit was money.
“It takes a few millions of dollars to start up a distillery,” said Elliott. “That’s one of the biggest hurdles for people. You have to submit your bank statements for the last six months. That’s where business investors come in to play.”
An older cousin who Elliott previously worked for at his information technology company agreed to invest. When thinking of location, the perfect place was Downtown Los Angeles. There was only one other distillery at the time in Los Angeles and Elliott thought that it would be the most welcoming community for a new Vodka.
“I chose LA because there was only one distillery here at the time but I lived on the east coast close to D.C.,” said Elliott. “Choosing to move out here was a huge hurdle for me. I slept on couches, stayed in a hostile for a while. I had the vision but not the commitment yet.”
Elliott had taken two years to draw up his business plan, but once the ball got rolling everything fell into place. He has a team of seven who are all young, driven individuals. His business manager is 23 years old, but Elliott likes the innovation and ideas of young professionals. He has also teamed up with PATH (People Assisting The Homeless), a charity that helps homeless people, not only find shelter, but move in with furniture and jobs. Through his Distill. Drink. Donate. initiative, five percent of all profits of loft & bear go to helping the homeless, veterans and displaced families.
“I always knew that I wanted to have a percentage go to charity and after researching a bunch, PATH was so organized and I liked the mission,” said Elliott.
loft & bear is made from a soft wheat that is usually used in cakes and pastries. It was very important to Elliott that the taste be smooth and not have a harsh burn. The name came from the distillery being located in a loft and Elliott’s college nickname, bear. Along with taste and image, Elliott attributes his success to commitment.
“I never felt defeated, ever. If you work hard enough and you’re smart enough and you commit to your business, good things will happen,” said Elliott. “I think persistence is very important. When people give up on something, they don’t really know how close they were to achieving it.”
loft & bear can be found in your local Target, Whole Foods and Vons. For more information, visit www.loftandbear.com.