It's working for Dr. Sonat Birnecker, President of KOVAL Distillery
I think that women, when afforded the opportunity, have always loved independent work, whether launching a brand or otherwise.
Spend more time traveling with your sister and brother…and do not pluck your eyebrows!
The journey is the goal, so the mark is living each day as best as one can.
I think that there has been a growing interest in entrepreneurship, in tandem with the popularity in the craft movement: whether beer, coffee, sweets, and other items, as well as new modes of promotion and sales via the internet. I think that women, when afforded the opportunity, have always loved independent work, whether launching a brand or otherwise. It comes with a kind of freedom that is not often possible when one works for someone else, such as finding ways to integrate motherhood into a workday, working with family or friends, taking time to volunteer or give back during the work week. These are only a few of the things that I found attractive in launching a brand. One cannot underestimate the thrill, however, of building something from scratch in an exciting industry.
This is a special time. My boys are growing up so quickly and soon they will be out of the house and leading their own lives. I love that they understand what I do and we can talk about it, whether it’s trademark law, marketing, distribution or international trade. I also love going about my day while hearing about the best Plainswalkers to add to a control deck in Magic the Gathering, discussing their thoughts on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, or being able to work while they practice their instruments in the background.
I do not see moving into my parents home as a compromise. It was, and is (since we have been staying with my mom again for most of the pandemic) a really amazing opportunity. I do not think that everyone would feel the same about living with their parents as adults, but it has been rewarding for me. Being together has been helpful for them and helpful for us. It has given my children a chance to really get to know their grandparents, and since my father passed away, given them a sense of responsibility for helping my mom. I am sure that they will have very fond memories of their conversations and experiences with my parents, and I know that they have a great deal of respect and compassion for the trials of aging.
Everyone is the main character in their own life, but nothing revolves around me. Life is a short moment in time and we do what we can to make it count as individuals, as a family, as a community, a nation, and world before the worms. Nothing I am doing is any more important than what my mom directs her energies to, or my sister, or brother, or friends, and we all support each other, cheer each other on, and thus, if we are at the center of anything, it is a community of support and love. For that, we are very lucky indeed.
I live my life based on a very old blueprint: Judaism. It affords–for me–a clear path to a life well-lived. It is the support and wisdom of thousands of years of teachings, ideas, arguments, stories, history, and culture, wrapped up in a mindset for how to conduct one’s business and one’s home. I draw great joy and inspiration from it. Perhaps the most important element of it that is related to self care is Shabbat. It is the original model for a work-life balance, and it works for me. Shabbat is not only a celebration with a fabulous meal, it creates a time set apart and different from the work week. It offers rest and joy, while demanding freedom from work, stress, and, especially today, technology.
When we shifted our business from making alcohol to making hand sanitizer, we found ourselves working day and night, but we were not alone. Everyone in my company was doing the same because we were driven to do what we could to help our community. It was one of the most difficult circumstances we’ve encountered, but also one of the most uplifting because we saw everyone come together to help. Even as a company, we could not do it all alone. People around the world donated to us so that we could continue to make hand sanitizer and provide it to those on the front lines for free. Members of our community came together to support our efforts: breweries donated their beer so that we could distill it and turn it into hand sanitizer, companies donated packaging, restaurants donated food to our staff, companies offered their vehicles to deliver the sanitizer around the city, politicians came in their own cars to pick up and deliver to those in need in their wards, my friends came together to help however they could. We felt that the entire city was doing everything it could to make things better and it was an amazing and inspiring experience. It was the environment of a war effort, and everyone was understanding. In this new world, I like to think that we are all more sensitive to each other, but also, sadly, less carefree and open.
As a new mother working, my biggest challenge was probably finding ways to promote my products in-person, while bouncing a child in a wrap… it must have been a funny sight! Any of the challenges were offset by my ability to run the business without having to sacrifice my desires and instincts as a new mom, such as nursing on-demand. It is difficult to look back on what the biggest challenges were because there were so many, and there still are so many! That is the case with any business – there are challenges lurking around every corner! I would say that early on we had tons of big issues: branding, trademark violations, distribution challenges, and growth. So many challenges, so little time, but never a dull moment!
Take long showers, it might be the only time you get to yourself.
Returning? I never stopped working, I was always working on something. My husband supports me in all that I do. Of course my family and friends are also a huge support.
I am always inspired by strong women. My greatest inspirations come from my own family:
My great grandmother, Ida, who left Pinks, Russia at the age of 13. She went on a hunger strike to convince her parents to let her leave for America. She put three children through college and graduated school by herself, sewing day and night, while taking care of a sick husband. She was smart, hardworking, and unsentimental.
My Grandmother Bea received a PhD despite her professors’ surprise that she would rather continue her education over going home and having babies. After then having four children, she went on to get another degree as a nurse to take care of her husband when he became ill, and later, was headhunted to work for a finance firm at 80 years old. She was generous, diligent, and adventurous.
I am also inspired by my mother, who has rigorous discipline and a thirst for knowledge.
Yet more to the point, I think that we can learn from just about everyone who comes into our lives.
I have mentored a number of people over the years regarding the spirits business specifically, but also entrepreneurship in general.
As a working parent, I never expected __housework__would be so hard and _international trade_would be so much easier.