The Transcript Is Auto-Generated And May Contain Spelling And Grammar Errors
Larry McGearty 0:00
The biggest thing is when I’m in a shop, and nobody knows me, and I see somebody putting their hard-earned money down for something I came up with, and I wouldn’t say I came up with it with me and my team that came up with it. There’s nothing better. And if that’s what you want, you should be an entrepreneur.
You’re listening to BizNinja Entrepreneur Radio. This show was created for entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers, and dreamers who want to learn from the experts of today and drastically shortcut their own success to build a business that supports their dream lifestyle. Since 2011, Tyler Jorgenson has been interviewing business thought leaders from around the world, a serial entrepreneur himself, Tyler also shares his personal insights into what’s working in business today. Welcome to biz ninja, entrepreneur, radio.
Tyler Jorgenson 0:54
Welcome out, everybody. I’m so excited to have you here on business entrepreneur radio, we took a short break. And every time we do this, I’m reminded how much I miss meeting with really cool entrepreneurs and bringing their stories to you. And so today, we get to talk with Larry McGearty, who has created Sweet Gwendoline French gin, and I might even be saying that wrong, but it is one of the coolest brands that I have seen in a long time. So really excited to have you out on the show. Larry, how’s your day going? So far?
Larry McGearty 1:26
It’s good. It’s beautiful out. Spring’s almost here. I’m ready for it. I’m ready. Yeah, for
Tyler Jorgenson 1:32
sure. So tell us like, what’s the elevator pitch of what your product and brand is? Why was it unique to the market? Like?
Larry McGearty 1:42
Yeah, I think, you know, we looked at the marketplace A while ago when I was looking at it. And there wasn’t anything that sat on the shelf that was provocative, that had not sort of slipped into the same mainstream of all brown spirits are what gender is supposed to look like, or even to kill it. So sort of follow a formula. And I’ve been in the biz for about 25 years on the other side, on the advertising side, coming up with brands and stuff. And I always wanted to do this, you know, I have an obsession with the French culture. I think that’s where great stuff comes from. And this was someone I was obsessed with his name was John Willie. He had a magazine called Bizarre in the 40s and 50s. And was sort of the godfather of fetish. And I’ve been collecting that since probably too young. But if, and he used humor as sort of a way to get through to this, because at that time, I think he was arrested a couple of times for putting stuff through them. And at that time was super conservative. So there’s been a little bit of an homage to him. And his artwork and his beliefs. And I think there’s a community of people. And I’m not just talking about people that live fetish everyday, but people that are interested in those things in the stories and we’re avoid errors at some point. And we wanted to create a gym that was sort of could break through as well. I think you know, a lot of the gyms out there right now a real Juniper forward kind of stuff. And we wanted something that was more, a little bit more complex, I guess you could say, ours is, you know, we’re infused with fake and fake has all the different components like not only sexual components, but you know, the sort of low sugar beautiful taste to it. And we infuse it with five different ingredients cardamom, coriander, Angelica seed, sweet orange, lemon, but we finished ours was white wine, and all of the product that comes from there. All of our infusions are from the south of France, all around that area. And you know, the bottle God, I can talk for hours, you probably bored of it. But I could talk for hours about the Bible bottle sort of like looks like a corset supposed to look that I designed it off of a 1940s perfume bottle that I had found. And I worked with some great people to help me sort of reimagine John Willie.
Tyler Jorgenson 4:14
You know, what’s fascinating is there’s a lot of people getting into the alcohol space right now. I think there’s almost this like celebrity trend of everyone’s launching something. And I think it’s fantastic. I love entrepreneurship. I love coming up with new brands, I think it’s really neat. But usually you have one of two things, you have something that’s either a really amazing brand they’ve done they’ve they’ve put a lot of energy into the aesthetic of the press. Or you have someone who’s a flavor hound and a quality focused person right there in the product is great, but maybe the brand lacks a little bit, but you put an intense amount of attention to detail into both sides. So you guys source all of your own ingredients. You’re not just white labeling a product right. So how did you how you balance that level of attention to detail with making sure you still ship the product and get things to market?
Larry McGearty 5:07
Yeah, you know, it was complex, I worked with a really great flavorist. And team, actually in Mexico, who guided me through this, I’ve worked on other brands, I was part of the creative team with Sailor Jerry and learned a lot, but to actually immerse yourself in it and get geeked out on it. Because listen, I can, anyone can make something really beautiful. But if it doesn’t deliver on the inside doesn’t matter. And even if it delivers on the inside, but you don’t tell a story with it on the outside. People don’t know how to interact with that. Do you know what I mean? So it was super important for us to do both and, and to put something out there. Listen, we do this because we love to make things. You know, I could do a lot of other things in my life. But I do this because I love brands, but I also love the product in there. And I love to see people react to that idea. You know what I mean? Because you don’t know when you’re putting it out there? You don’t know. And I think we’re really wanted to make sure the product stood up as much as the bottle and told the story in itself.
Tyler Jorgenson 6:22
Yeah. And so speaking of stories, I mean, you’re evoking a lot of these past concepts and imagery from the 40s of French culture and everything that you’ve been saying. But then you’re also partnering with people who are very relevant, like like Dita Von Teese. Right? And so how, how are you finding those kinds of collaborations? And what advice do you have for other people who are trying to connect into the current into current audiences?
Larry McGearty 6:47
Yeah, and devas. I’ve known data for 25 years, I started. So I started my life as an entrepreneur, I had a clothing line, vintage and vintage inspired clothing line. And I actually had a couple of T shirts that were bizarre related the magazine and DITA was a model at the time buying my sample. So it was only right. And her whole aesthetic was based on John Willie. So we share that. And I think that’s the key, you have to share a with whoever you’re working with, you have to share a passion of something. And you know, Dave is an amazing woman. She’s not just a burlesque dancer model, she’s an amazing creative, she’s a strong, you know, businesswoman. And I think, you know, while she is a celebrity, if you would, we don’t just sort of play that angle, because she’s a partner. And it’s very different. You know, she has a lot to say about we talk about the different aspects of this brand, even how we talk to an audience, it’s important. And those details too, you might always look at the bottle, and look at the liquid, but the details of how you’re presenting that in every aspect, especially today, in today’s world, you have to be pretty specific about what you believe in and, and, and how you’re going to express that that’s not appropriation, like we’re not here to appropriate John Williams, I’m, I’m a believer and a lover. And we make sure that our audience also understands that and support those people that live a lifestyle, but also the people who want to just have a great jet. And so you know, I think things have to have a story, they have to have a meaning behind them.
Tyler Jorgenson 8:37
I’m noticing that’s a really consistent thing. And even even the cocktails that you guys create, have stories and the names evoke a story. And and I think it’s really great to me, storytelling is a huge part of marketing. What was it? That got you to say, Hey, I’ve done all of these other entrepreneurial ventures, but gin is what I want to do.
Larry McGearty 8:57
You know what, I’ve had this idea for about 10 years. And I thought there’s a big gap in the market. I think for a audience that’s not spoken to. It was just time I couldn’t I let my bit you know where it came from. I was afraid I wasn’t going to do it. You know, it was just time. I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve taken that everywhere. I’ve gone and it was time for us to do it again before. Before I regretted it. I don’t I don’t believe in regrets, you know.
Tyler Jorgenson 9:29
So you just you felt kind of called to do it. And you were like, I’m not going to get this far and not do it.
Larry McGearty 9:35
Yeah, and not do it. Right. You know, not do it right. I mean, like you said before, packaging can be beautiful. The message can be perfect. But if people don’t can’t experience it, can’t like touch it and feel it and play with it. The bartending community as just grabbed us up. And really what we’re a vehicle for them to come back and act experiment and play with it. And, and they’re the ones who make this come to life. Like you said, we have some insurance. We have some fun names, but one of the great bartenders came up with a take on the last word called the safe word. And it’s like, our one of our best products, but I wouldn’t I couldn’t have thought of
Tyler Jorgenson 10:18
that. Yeah. And that’s why it’s fantastic. When the community gets involved in the creation and storytelling as well. It’s a it’s a group effort. Yeah, um, as you were going along, and getting this started, what was one of the first and biggest challenges that you faced? And how did you overcome it?
Larry McGearty 10:34
I think the biggest challenge was, so I came from the advertising side, and you’re like, here’s an idea. produce it. Yeah. And the biggest part were sort of figure out all the aspects of supply chain production cost structure, costing a product, how much do you sell it for? Where do you like that knowledge? I don’t know that I could have gained it by somebody telling me because it’s so variable, you know, you’re dealing with so many different people. I think that was the biggest hurdle on time. If you know what I mean, you know, I’m, I’m, you ever talk to anybody who works with me, I’m always like, let’s go on to the next step to that. But making sure and details. It’s funny, we keep talking about detail. Understanding those details, let me tell you will can make or break a company. So I think that was my biggest sort of hurdle in the beginning was expectations. You know, of like, oh, an idea, you make it. Now an idea. And you have to go through a myriad of different decisions along the way. And were we gonna do gin. At one point, I was like, hooked on the Eau de vie, but then some of the smack means that nobody knows even when it was.
Tyler Jorgenson 11:57
So along the way, right, like when you were just in advertising or in other parts, and you only owned one part of the supply chain, or one part of the marketing machine, going now having to own all of that from ideation to testing, to manufacturing, to marketing and sales, making sure you have enough margin all. All Oh, yeah, capital, raise all those things, right. That’s my word. I’m learning. Yeah. And so there’s all of these different things. So with all of this in mind, you’re a few years into it, now you’re seeing some success? What advice would you have for somebody who’s just getting started?
Larry McGearty 12:30
Listen, everybody’s got to follow their dream. Like, I hate to be that guy. But it’s true. If you don’t put it out there. You don’t put an idea out there that you believe is right, then it’s a loss. It’s a loss for everybody, it’s a loss for yourself, I think you have to be prepared for if you’re going to be in this business, I would say you have to be prepared for the costs, you have to be prepared for the time, and you have to be prepared to be able to maneuver. Right, this is not, this isn’t a linear path. And I don’t know that anything is quite frankly, I think, you know, I think you’ve got to put the right people around you that really believe in you. And I always tell everybody this, know what you’re good at. But more importantly, know what you’re not good at, and put those people together with you. Because I think I’ve seen even, you know, working with other people outside that have their own stuff. They think they can do it. All right, and then get caught, right? You you become the bottleneck. And I’ll be honest, even in the beginning, I’m you know, a bit of a control freak, I got a, I got us into a couple of bottlenecks. Because there’s, there’s only so much of me. And there’s an I need to know what I’m good at. I’m the idea guy. That’s what I love. I love people. Honestly, the biggest thing is when I’m in a shop, and nobody knows me, and I see somebody putting their hard earned money down for one, something I came up with, and I wouldn’t say I came up with with me and my team that came up with it. There’s nothing better. And if that’s what you want, like you should be doing, you should be an entrepreneur.
Tyler Jorgenson 14:05
Yeah. I, I think that we’re finally getting to a stage of, you know, the business landscape where that idea that you shared of know what you’re good at, but really know what you’re not good at, and then hire people around that build a team around that is becoming more and more commonplace. For years, there was this idea of, well, you got to you got to fix your weaknesses, got to fix your weaknesses. And now, it’s almost like no embrace your weaknesses. Let other people fill those gaps and go all in on your strengths. And so as the idea guy and the visionary of the company, how do you what has you most fired up right now? Like, what are you most excited about coming down the pipeline for the business?
Larry McGearty 14:46
It’s funny, it’s the data. I’m the stuff that I’m learning about sort of where these pockets of people are, why do they like us? It’s all the data that is really super interesting. mean to me because you look at a big picture, right? And you’re like, Oh, we sold this many. And we’re selling some here and some here and some over there. But when you dive into like, and you started looking at the bar, the neighborhood, the community, what the community needs, what they want, how they’re acting, and what and your place in that community. That’s what fires me up. Like, honestly, I’ve been in the market a lot lately. And the feedback I’m getting and talking to people about it, that’s what Jazz’s me, especially, like now, especially if they don’t like it too, because I need to know, like, what, what turned you off? Why didn’t you do? So that journey of like really learning, it’s putting the baby out in the world, and then watching it grow? And then learning from it? You know, and that’s, I think, sort of lately has been really the exciting part for me, and to start to see certainly, like, people say the message back to me without it prompted. I’m like, what? They’re like, yeah, don’t you know, this game? It’s about blah, blah, blah. And I’m like,
Tyler Jorgenson 16:09
that’s cool. So you’ve got one core product, and you know, people obviously make cocktails and do other things, you’re gonna continue to grow through increasing distribution and all of these things. Do you have ideas or plans for other products or other things to also bring into the brand? Yeah,
Larry McGearty 16:26
I think, you know, sweet Gwendolen, French gin, and sweet one, two in itself, we really think of it as like a lifestyle brand. So I think what you’ll start to see as we start to grow, you know, data, and I have a background in clothing and, and sort of really creating a sort of whole little world around this. You know, I think that’s what would be super interesting to me. You know, we’re talking about, you know, other product line that goes within this, but I don’t want to be like that traditional person that’s like, Oh, here’s sweet go. I know a friend shin. Now here’s a cherry sweet going on. Now. I think we want to like build really interesting, sort of adjacent stuff, like we’re thinking about a tonic that goes perfect with this. And what are those different tonics that would really bring out this sort of tastes feature and things like that? So yeah, more like adjacent and holding that holdings on friendship is sort of the diamond in the jewel setting.
Tyler Jorgenson 17:29
Does that make that smart? Yeah. So instead of, you’re not going to water it down by saying it needs a ton of variations. Instead, you can say this is the right product. But here’s other things that you can accent or customize it to what your way, I think that’s smart. And it kind of honors that the product was right from the beginning. Thanks. Yeah,
Larry McGearty 17:46
that’s a great one. Yeah.
Tyler Jorgenson 17:48
I want you to like zoom way back. Like, when was the moment in your life where you realized that you were an entrepreneur?
Larry McGearty 17:54
Okay. You want to allow it to Larry story. I went to art school. Yeah. And I was a glassblowing. Major. And as you know, the market was huge for glassblowers when you come out? Yeah.
Tyler Jorgenson 18:10
Larry McGearty 18:12
It was huge feud. I got a job one summer, working on the stock exchange as a runner. Don’t ask me how an ant got me in. I was, you know, I had like, I had to grow out my Mohawk all that kind of
Tyler Jorgenson 18:27
at a battle all the other glassblowers for that position. Yeah, exactly.
Larry McGearty 18:33
You know, it was exciting. It was Wolf of Wall Street. I was there during that time. And I made most of my money playing ping knuckles to tell you the truth. In between, in between trades, and running and stuff, but I came out of that. And my, my roommate from college, finished his fifth year in school, and he was a printmaker. And we decided to create our own t shirt printing design business. And that was it. So I was just turned 21. So I never had a real job. I was a bartender my whole life. But I was an entrepreneur from day one. It was getting back into the real world. When I turned 30. That was the difference.
Tyler Jorgenson 19:18
That was the heart. Yeah. And so you came back into the, quote, real world, but eventually you’re back out doing your own thing again.
Larry McGearty 19:25
You don’t lose it. Inside. It’s not i There’s a breed of us, right are entrepreneurs. And it’s a calling. It’s a calling.
Tyler Jorgenson 19:36
So along that way, did you have mentors or role models?
Larry McGearty 19:42
Great people. In the very beginning, I was a knucklehead, and I was a knucklehead. And I saw it, I knew everything and we did very well with it. We hit sort of the clothing line was called retroactive and Urban Outfitters was based in Philadelphia and we sold there and this is And Japan was buying. So we’re doing really well. And I was spending money like a college kid. So what I did was this guy, Sam, who’s actually owned a big T shirt printing company. And he was the one who sort of pulled me aside and said, Yo, you’re doing really well. But you’re not managing yourself correctly. It was it was really good because he was the first guy to give me credit, which is a big deal when you’re 23 years old, you know, and driving around in the 1967 Buick Skylark, a dual exhaust.
Tyler Jorgenson 20:35
So he, he not only saw and believed in you, right, he gave you credit, you know, probably before you were worthy of it. But then he also was like, Hey, I see. I see the good in you. But I also see like, you got to make some adjustments if you want this to have some runway. Yeah.
Larry McGearty 20:51
And I respected him enough to listen to him because he was nice to me, because he trusted me I could trust back in him. And I think I’ve hit along the way. Many people like that, you know, there’s the Elwood and Gladstone and people of that sort that helped me when they were at, you know, proximo spirits, Mark Teasdale. And, and these people show up along your path, and sort of come there when you’re most open to receiving stuff like that. Right, you know, and my hope is sort of pass that down to that would be my hope.
Tyler Jorgenson 21:31
So you’ve, you’ve received a lot of great advice from role models and mentors, when you run across someone who’s a little bit further behind. What’s your advice to them?
Larry McGearty 21:41
Yeah, I think it depends on what they’re going through. You sort of have to, because it’s not general. Right? Well, I think the big general thing is we were stressed out all the time. My biggest thing is, if you want to be an entrepreneur, don’t expect to not work 60 hours a week, but you’re working 60 hours a week on something that’s yours, and that you love. It’s just part of the deal. It’s like, you know, it’s your baby, you’ve got to nourish it, you know, and you’ve got to be a pirate, and you got to look at everything. And, you know, I probably I might not be the dialer, I might not be the best guy. I told you. I’m a little obsessive.
Tyler Jorgenson 22:15
Hey, that’s all right. I was gonna ask like, what’s, what’s your take on work life balance as an entrepreneur,
Larry McGearty 22:20
I, like I told you, I fucking love what I do. So it’s not work to me. I mean, it’s like the what the old timers used to say, if I forget what the thing is, but you know, it’s not work. If you love what you’re doing. Sure, it’s kind of true, you know, I surf, I go down to the beach, I take time for myself to make sure that, you know, you have to enjoy the ride. Or then it’s just another business, and I can go do that anywhere. So I get to, I get to make that I love that’s mine. I get to travel around and, and, and sell it to people. I get to watch them drink and and enjoy it. And I get to work with fabulous people. I mean, what else do you want in the world? That’s what life’s about. It’s not the end goal. It’s the journey.
Tyler Jorgenson 23:07
Yeah. And I think that’s the thing, you clearly are enjoying the journey. And that’s what makes it exciting and fun for you. Again, I think your product and your branding is some of the best that I’ve seen in a long time. I love branding, I love and I love the storytelling that you’re doing with that, you know, and you clearly have put a lot of passion into it. How do you handle it when you see people who just don’t seem to be caring as much when they’re launching products?
Larry McGearty 23:31
Tell you the truth. Yeah, tell
Tyler Jorgenson 23:33
- I want
Larry McGearty 23:34
to go and strangle people. There’s like, You’re choking out other people that could go and do it is what I think like you’re wasting precious eyeballs. You’re wasting people’s time. If you don’t give up. You just are.
Tyler Jorgenson 23:50
So you’re taking up shelf space, you’re taking up your space from you know,
Larry McGearty 23:55
it’s about money at the end of the day for many people. And I get that. And listen, I’m not doing this for free. Right? We all want to we’ll, of course, this I’m not giving it away in the corner. But there’s a lot out there. I think everybody thinks they can do it. And they take a short path to that. And you get a lot because of that. Yeah, I
Tyler Jorgenson 24:18
think that’s true. There’s a lot of people taking shortcuts they want that aren’t there, they don’t care as much about the journey, right? They’re looking just to try to get to the outcome. But you know, again, you can tell in your brand, that there’s that you care, what what are your big goals for the next couple years with the brand?
Larry McGearty 24:34
Well, I think the big goal is to not go wide, but go deep. Make sure I’m supporting the places that supported us and make a real difference. We want to support the culture. We’re about diversity, we are about all those things. So we want to live those values instead of just talk about them. And I think we want to get to Europe. You know, I think we want to get to Europe, I think Deena just announced today that she’s going to be doing a show in, in London, a residency, and we think we’re perfect for that. I want to be in Berlin, I want to be in all the places that were had had, you know, a sense of delight and bewitchment with a lot of Berlin and Paris and Tokyo and, and that kind of expansion. So that’s what we’re looking but I think we want to concentrate on getting it right here. And making sure it’s tight and learn and learn. As you
Tyler Jorgenson 25:39
guys have been growing, you know, domestic what, what have been some of your big breaks, like, you know, with a distributor that yeah,
Larry McGearty 25:47
that was our big break. Our big break was with Frederick Wildman who took us on right away. And, you know, I thought that’s how it worked with everyone. But as I looked back, it was like, that was our big break forever and ever been great. They handle chartreuse, which I love. So they have that sort of background, it pairs so well with our brand. It’s a little on the other side, right monks, and sweet boy, no, and it’s kind of an interesting combo. And they’ve been great to us. So I think that was our big break, quite frankly, really. And working with the, the this crew down in Mexico, that that really had been lovely and helpful to me. You know, they they are the people behind next. And a couple of other brands and I met them through working and Dave, very moist from from that from them is probably the other guy who’s a boy and Danny are the two guys that just sort of really took care of me in the process of making this brand and giving me really great advice.
Tyler Jorgenson 27:05
Now, you know, I know you love to work, the journey as part of is is your destination. But I am a big, big believer that we do these kinds of things. We take these kinds of risks because we want a lifestyle that we can only get from chasing our own pursuits and passions. What is one item on your personal bucket list you’re gonna accomplish in the next 12 months?
Larry McGearty 27:26
Boy, I’m gonna rip those two apart. So I’m a surfer. My hope is when I retire, and I’ll never really retire when I scaled back is to surf all the great beaches in the world. And I’m a terrible surfer quite frankly. That’s right. Just so you know.
Tyler Jorgenson 27:44
So the journey again now.
Larry McGearty 27:47
I think my my, my personal thing is to really get comfortable on a wave this year and I I hurt my back. I had surgery last season, but two years ago, the last wave of the season, I had a perfect ride. And I can’t tell you what that feeling is like it is unbelievable. And not only that I wasn’t alone, like some people are like, Oh, that that feeling again. I might not be alright,
Tyler Jorgenson 28:18
so let’s say tomorrow morning, you could wake up on any beach in the world which beach would it be? Probably Costa
Larry McGearty 28:24
Rica right now because there’s a great break there that I’ve always wanted to surf. That’s more my style in the long border. And I love Costa Rica.
Tyler Jorgenson 28:35
I love it. Awesome. Well, Larry, it’s been great chatting with you and getting to know you. For all of my businesses out there. Please go check out sweet sweet Gwendolyn French gin. It’s on all the socials and the internet’s and all those wonderful places and it makes sure to support them and ask for them at your local bar but Larry, absolute pleasure and to all my business angels wherever you’re listening, watching or streaming, it’s your turn to go out and do something.
Thank you for tuning in to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. What you didn’t hear was one more very important question that Tyler asks each guest if you want to be a fly on the wall when the real secrets are shared, go to biz ninja.com/vip and get your access today. Remember to subscribe so that you don’t miss any future episodes. And our one last favor. If this episode was meaningful to you please share this podcast with a fellow entrepreneur so they can grow along with us is ninjas. It’s your turn to go out and do something