government oversight

New Year, New Name... Wait, WHAT?

In my last post I talked about some of our challenges over the last few months and how we are adapting: The Good,  The Bad,  the Ugly. This post falls into The Annoying and You Couldn't Have Told Us This a Year Ago categories. 

We were informed a couple of weeks ago that we can no longer use our name on any packaging. 

"Elixir is a prohibited word on alcohol packaging because it is misleading to the consumer and will lead them to think what they are drinking has nutritional or medicinal value." In short, Elixir implies medication.

Hear that folks, you as a consumer are not smart enough to know that the mead we make has no medicinal value if we include the statement "produced and packaged by Odd Elixir LLC".

We knew Elixir was a tricky word going into it. But we are not in the 1800s and we, evidently, have more faith in the drinkers of our product than the Federal Government does.  Our name was approved and we moved forward, built our brand, and started advertising.  Then, a couple months ago, we were told that we could only use Elixir in our bottling statement. Fine, no problem, changes made. It was a minor change that required a tweak in our logo used on the bottle. Now, a year after we began our journey into the exciting world of red tape, we are just now being told we can not use Elixir anywhere on our labeling, all of our previously approved labels must be surrendered, and we have to start over. Oh, goody!

BUT, we can still use the name Odd Elixir just not on our packaging.  To put that in perspective, that would be like telling McDonald's that they can use McDonald's in all of their advertising but they can put it on their restuarants. They are going to have to call them something else. 

After to speaking with a very nice,  very apologetic (after all it's not her rule), and very helpful woman at the labeling office we were left with 2 options.  1) We could keep using Odd Elixir and apply for a State of Florida labeling exemption. The catch, we can never sell across state lines. Granted, our expansion into other states is not in our immediate future but it seemed like a terrible idea to lock ourselves out of that possibly. 2) We could apply for a trade name, effectively changing our business name, and start our branding over, you know, after a year of building the brand and countless hours of creating content, artwork,  and graphics. 

Ultimately we opted for a combination of the two that will make everyone happy, well everyone but me,  I was happy with it before! 

We recently applied for the trade name Odd X MeadWorks. We will continue to use Odd Elixir (with the addition of the word MeadWorks) in all our advertising except our bottles. We have some changes to the logo and a modified logo for bottling but we can continue to use our artwork and concept. You will start seeing the Odd X logo pop up as we begin to integrate it into our existing brand. 

The decision basically boiled down to when was it most appropriate to modify the brand; now, while the brand is young and fewer people were familiar with it or a year or two down the road when more people knew who we were and we were ready to expand. We opted for now; it just made more sense. 

The overall look will not change and I could have probably done our change over quietly and only a handful of people would have noticed. However, I constantly have people asking how the red tape is treating us and I always promise to post about it. So here it is. 

As an aside, I often talk with an overly sarcastic tone about the Federal and State governments and how stupid and ridiculous many of the laws and regulations are. And they are stupid and ridiculous. But time and time again I have spoken with the people in these offices whose jobs are to enforce these rules and they have in 100% of the cases been as helpful as they possibly can. They know the rules are convoluted. They know how difficult it is to figure out the right way to do something. They know that many of the people they are dealing with are small family owned businesses and having to completely rebrand after an entire year of effort has the potential for disaster. They really are sympathetic. That doesn't mean they don't have to enforce the rules. That is their job, whether they agree with them or not. While I may not agree with many of the rules and regulations we have to follow, I can not express enough how nice and helpful everyone I have spoken to is. They are terribly overworked and understaffed and they don't have to be nice. But they are and for that I am grateful! 

Cheers and #bringonthemead


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Opening a Meadery

A New Year brings New Year's Resolutions.  I'm not usually one for New Year's Resolution but I have a lot of goals and growth I want to accomplish this year.  That's sort of like New Year's Resolutions, right?

One of my goals is to have better communication on all of our Social Media platforms. I bet you didn't know that we are on Facebook (okay, you probably knew about that one), Instagram, Twitter, and we have a pretty bad ass Website (if I do say so myself).   I don't blame anyone but myself for you not knowing.  I am terrible about regular posting.  I WILL be better this year.   This post will, hopefully, be the first of many weekly posts about what is going on in the world of Odd Elixir MeadWorks!  And if you don't hear from us often enough, please feel free to call me out on it!

We celebrated our Grand Opening 5 months ago today.  In that time we have done things wrong, we have done things right, and we have just managed to do things (sleep not being one of them).  So as not to end on a negative note, I am going to work my way backwards through The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Ugly

Anyone that tells you brewing is glamorous probably has some swamp land or a bridge they are also trying to sell you.  A friend of mine that is opening a brewery jokes that she is leaving her steady job to become an underpaid janitor.  She's not all that wrong.  There are a lot of things to clean, and then clean, and then clean again. I'm not new to brewing.  I've been a homebrewer for years.  But the first time you have to crawl into a fermentor to clean some crevice you just can't reach you realise that joke about brewing being 90% cleaning and 10% brewing isn't, in fact, a joke.  In the last 5 months I have been made acutely aware just how inflexible I am. 

Honey is heavy!  It states clearly on the 5 gallon bucket of honey that is weighs 60lbs. For some reason that doesn't sink in until you have to unload and carry a dozen of said buckets in by hand because your meadery doesn't have a loading dock or a dollie ramp.  Then you are reminded again just how heavy 60lbs is when you have to lift that bucket up over your head to put in into a fermentor. If it wasn't for Blair doing the bulk of the heavy lifting there would be a lot more cleaning and a lot less mead!  In addition to being inflexible, I am also reminded that I am terribly out of shape.

Last on The Ugly list is paperwork.  My word there is a lot of paperwork!  I expected paperwork, and a lot of it but I was not prepared for the sheer volume of reports and approval requests and forms I would have to fill out. Monthly Operational Reports to the Federal and State Government, Quarterly Excise Tax Returns, Quarterly Sales Tax, Federal Formula Approval, Federal Label Approval, State Brand Registration, Inventory Audit, etc...And that's just the government side of it.  The distributor has their paperwork that has to be filed for each brand, chain stores like Total Wine and ABC have their paperwork that has to be filed, invoices have to be created.  It never seems to end!  So when you see me sitting at the corner of the bar, in front of my computer, eyes glazed over, with a cold cup of coffee sitting in front of me, there is a good chance you caught me on paperwork day!  Five months in, I feel like I am finally getting the hang of it.  Hopefully in another 5 months it will be second nature.

The Bad

TIME!  We need more of it!  The meadery is just getting off the ground so Blair and I are still running our other company and Blair bartends a couple nights a week.  So our calendars sometimes look like a dreadful paint-by-numbers accident (thank the universe for color coded calendars or I would never know who was supposed to be doing what).  One of my goals this year is to get the meadery to a stable position so I can hire someone full time to run all the promos for our other company.  Until then it is all up to us to make it work.  We are slowly working out a system that has me handling the administrative side of things (because anyone that knows Blair, knows he SUCKS at paperwork), Blair handling the Public Relations/Sales side of things, and us meeting in the middle to actually make mead!

The things I want for the new year are to be able to devote more time to our distributor, more time to our customers, and more time to advancing my knowledge so I can produce better and more consistent product.  We are getting there slowly but surely and hopefully everyone understands when I am not able to make it to their event.  Unfortunately, until they perfect cloning, I can only be in one place at a time. (Someone should tell that to my calendar.)

The Good

If I just left you with the two parts above you would think we had a terrible life.  In reality, we are doing what we love, creating a product that we are passionate about, and building our dream one empty (and significantly lighter) 5 gallon bucket at a time.

We work in an amazing industry that is in its infancy but growing at an astonishing rate.  We have amazing and talented friends that are gracious enough to share those talents with us (have you seen our killer artwork!). We have a distributor that embraces the craft movement and took a chance on a tiny start up making a product most people in this area have never heard of. and we have great customers that encouraged us to go from homebrewers to professional and are still supporting us today.

Every business has its "Bad" and "Ugly" but in the end it's the "Good" that counts.  And as long as the "Good" outweighs the rest I think we must be doing something right! 

Cheers and #bringonthemead