This Way UP Feature Friday: Jen Kimmich, The Alchemist
Transforming water into beer: and business into a force for good
This Way UP’s mission is to count and identify every women business owner in Vermont. It’s data that’s desperately missing from our state’s economic landscape. The Vermont Women’s Fund created This Way UP: there’s power in our numbers to fill that gap.
We can’t forget, however, that there’s a story behind every data point. And the stories are so good!
We want to share them with you as we go along so you’ll find this weekly blog on our website now, as well as on social media.
For our kick-off, we’re starting with a good friend, #10 who signed up on This Way UP, Jen Kimmich, the co-founder and CEO of The Alchemist Brewery.
"I was born in Brattleboro but grew up mostly in Barre. After graduating from UVM in 1994, I started traveling right away- mostly backpacking on a shoestring budget and picking up jobs along the way. At that time, I was convinced I would never settle down in Vermont. However, after marrying my husband John in 1997 and living and working in various places including Wyoming and Boston, we were pulled back to Vermont in 2002. It was inevitable- the more time we were away from Vermont, the more we yearned for it. The beautiful landscape, the people, the easy way of life. Just like my parents who came to Vermont in 1970 with nothing more than a station wagon and 2 kids, Vermont has been very good to John and me. We opened The Alchemist in November of 2003 with a lot of salvaged equipment, a small loan, our life savings and a bunch of maxed out credit cards. The following year our first and only child, Charlie, was born and our small brew pub was thriving. I can’t imagine running our business anywhere else."
Entrepreneurship (and Beer) as a Force for Good
"An Alchemist is someone who transforms things for the better,” Jen explains. “When we decided to name our brewery The Alchemist, we were focused on the idea of transforming water into beer. However, as our business has grown and we have become more mission driven, our idea of transforming something for the better has taken on a more significant meaning. We recognize the power of our beer and we are using it as a force for good.
My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is that I love not answering to anyone. Except for our employees, of course! I am not good at following rules. Also, we are incredibly thankful that we don’t have to answer to shareholders, it makes giving money away of creating positive social and environmental impact much easier!"
Building a Business
"The day we opened our pub we had $200 in the bank, 15 new employees, and no health insurance. The following day we found out we were pregnant. I was so scared, but with the support of my husband and a lot of hard work, everything turned out fine. Ten months later, I was hosting with baby Charlie in the Bjorn and somehow we figured out a way to get health insurance (probably on a credit card!). Today, John and I are both passionate advocates for Medicare for All, and this is a big motivator for us when business gets tough. And that cold Focal Banger at the end of a hard day sure helps too!"
There are stories like this all across the state. As more and more people take the This Way UP survey we're learning about the determination and power that fuels these businesses.
Take the Survey & Share
If you own your own business- no matter the size and no matter full time, part time, or side hustle- we want to hear from you! Please take the This Way UP survey to get counted for the hard work that you are doing in Vermont.
If you know women-owned businesses, please encourage them to take the survey or reach out to us at email@example.com.