Dram Apothecary first attracted my attention through their Instagram account. Its a challenge to convey a brand through images and Shae nailed it. I had searched for bitters that had simple quality ingredients, with an ingredient list that I could pronounce. Dram Apothecary uses only the best ingredients and it shows through the quality of their bitters. I'm a city girl by nature by Shae's work makes me want to move to Silver Plume, Colorado. I sent her along a few questions about what she does and here is what she said:
BGS: What made you decide to start Dram Apothecary? Was there a single "ahaa" moment that turned you down this road?
Shae: I had been thinking a lot about making my own bitters after realizing that most of the bitters I'd been using while bartender were synthetically flavored and dyed. One day while reading A Cordial Water by MFK Fisher I came across an old Sage Bitters recipe from Colorado and the little light went on in my head.
BGS: Why do you feel this work is important/beneficial?
Shae: I'd like to think that people learn a bit from us, about plants and terroir and how time, thoughtfulness and love can make really great products.
BGS: Tell us a little bit about your workshop and what makes it unique?
Shae: It's very very tiny for one! My kitchen space is about 20 x15 tucked into the corner of our little bar/shop that was built in the 1890's and once housed a mining supply shop, and then a bakery for 40 years until we turned it into our headquarters. We reside in the town of Silver Plume, CO which is called a "living ghost town" as 2/3 of the original structures are still standing and there is a population of less than 200.
BGS: What is a typical day you?
Shae: Coffee, sustenance and emails, then I head over the shop and spend the day blending teas, bottling bitters, making syrup, labeling and shipping everything out. I try to get home before dark and I usually end my day with a small glass of fernet or some kind of bitter, then have dinner, read for bit and off to bed to wake up and do it all over again! In the summer I'll take a long lunch break and go for a forage hike with my partner Brady everyday.
BGS: Could you give cradle to cradle description of your products? I.E- product design to customers homes?
Shae: Brady and I have done all of the design work ourselves and the process usually starts there. I'll come up with a recipe and then we'll create the packaging and get it ready to sell. We hand craft and hand bottle every single product we make, so anything you purchase from us has passed through my hands. We also handle all the shipping ourselves too, so we're there for the entire process from inception to shipment.
BGS: Do you have guiding principles when it comes to product quality?
Shae: If we can't forage it ourselves then we source our herbs and spices from organic and fair trade sources, always, no matter the cost. We try to use packaging that is 100% recycled, recyclable and biodegradable. If we can't source something within these standards then we just don't sell it, period.
BGS: Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
Shae:Find what you are good at and run with it, and don't copy others. Copycats drive me nutso.
BGS: Could you tell me a little about you? Who is the person behind Dram Apothecary?
Shae: Well, I'm 28 years old, I have a degree in Food Science, Botany and Ecological Agriculture. I've always been very interested in plants since childhood and it only seems natural that this is what I've ended up doing with my life. I'm a "noisy introvert" meaning I really enjoy time alone, rarely go "out on the town" or to social events but I enjoy sharing parts of my life publicly on social media. I'm very, very stubborn and sometimes it drives my poor partner in life and business absolutely nuts. I'm rarely willing to back down on my ideas how things should be done. It's really important to me to always be aware of how my consumption impacts the world, and the environment. When I was in my teens you could find me eating a vegan diet and holding global warming awareness rallies on the steps of the Denver Capitol building. I've cooled my jets a bit since then, but it's still important to me to be a steward for the plants and animals and I try to personify this through my company. I believe a balance of wellness and indulgence are essential for a life well lived. My father always described me as "eccentric". I grew up in a family with 9 kids, 2nd to youngest.