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Meet Darci Kendall of Hodde Bros Beverage Co. in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Darci Kendall.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Darci. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
If you look at my resume, you won’t find a linear career “path.” I’ve been a bartender, a non-profit technical solutions engineer, and many things in between. But in hindsight, I can see how all of my experiences have landed me here.

Most of my 20’s were spent holding court in big jobs with big-name companies. No position lasted longer than two years though. (No relationship did at that time either!) Ultimately, a pattern emerged – I would become discontent with the office politics, hierarchy and commute, and would move on to the next shiny new job. What I failed to realize then was that I didn’t fit in any “office,” and that was okay.

Longing for a bit more freedom, I left the corporate world at 30 and picked back up my life “behind the stick.” The flexibility of being a bartender allowed me to pursue outside projects that excited me. I didn’t have to start work at 9 AM (an hour at which I am NOT productive) and slave away until my boss left. I didn’t have to work in a fishbowl where my boss stole my jokes. (Yes, that really happened!) I got to explore my talents.

Over the next decade, I went through a startup accelerator, launched a wedding tech company, shut that down, worked doing freelance events and finally (FINALLY!) found my passion and personal brand. I care about creating delicious cocktails, designing unique events and sparking joy in others. Hodde Bros allows me to do that each and every day.

Has it been a smooth road?
I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to feel the highs (and lows) of owning my own business. And, although it can be a rollercoaster at times, I appreciate the ride. I wear every dropped ball, late reply and mishap as a badge of honor – they are my battle scars and my teachers.

While there were many challenges along the way, finding funding for the Airstream build was by far our biggest obstacle. Instead of taking out traditional loans, we opted to bootstrap the project. We broke it down into small goals, saved money and kept pushing forward. It took a year to save enough to purchase the Airstream, another year before we did any demo, and two more before the renovation was complete. Although it took us longer to complete than we wanted, the process allowed me to build something truly unique and maintain ownership.

During that time, I learned a number of valuable personal lessons, from reflecting my value in our pricing to finding work/life balance, to learning to love progress over perfectionism. (I’m still working on that last one!) I guess I look at it this way… you’re gonna face challenges no matter what you do, so just make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Hodde Bros is a full-scale cocktail catering company….with an Airstream mobile bar. We offer standard and specialty bar programs, as well as bar activations (like the Make Your Own Margarita bar) and unique event rentals. We’re known for our delicious and innovative drinks, including our vaporized cloud cocktails, cocktail foam art & cocktail fizz bombs. We are constantly thinking outside the bottle, creating experiences that delight all the senses and trying to make being an adult more fun!

I also have to give a nod to my staff. They’re incredibly skilled, engaging and professional. And, they go above and beyond to make each guest feel special. I’ve bartended in LA for over ten years and have had the pleasure of working directly with the majority of them. We are a family and it shows.

I’m the most proud of how the business has grown over the years. We started in 2014 as a staffing agency and pivoted several times before we landed on the Hodde Bros concept. Now six years later, we’re about to launch our sister company, Popjoy, which focuses on marketing the Airstream for use in experiential events, mobile marketing tours and pop up activations. We’re excited to see where it all takes us. Maybe more trailers or even an event space!

What’s your outlook for the industry over the next 5-10 years?
Mobile bars didn’t come on the scene until 2013, 5 years after the food truck craze started. So, the industry is relatively young and still has room to grow. I think mobile businesses are appealing because they have low barriers to entry and provide a flexible lifestyle (AKA the gig life). We’ve seen operations opening up in smaller, secondary markets and even know of a few franchise opportunities.

As far as cocktails go, I think we’ll see a continuation of the current trends of no/low ABV options, health-conscious ingredients and zero-waste drinks. Technology is also playing a bigger role in cocktail development, with new concepts like vaporized drinks, robot bartenders and 3D printed garnishes. Ultimately, craft is king and cocktails will continue to include fresh and locally sourced ingredients and brands.

But, the biggest shift I think we’ll see in the near future is with regulation. Mobile bars aren’t quite food trucks, but they also aren’t bars. They operate in a grey area and owners are getting creative with how to maneuver in the marketplace. Now that they are becoming more popular, I expect we’ll see some new governmental policies put in place.

Pricing:

  • Airstream Bar Minimum | $4,500
  • Cocktail Catering Minimum | $2,500

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Jenn Ashley Photography | jennashley.com; Stacy Connor Photography | stacyconnerphotography.com; Blue Bracket | bluebracket.com; James Lester Photography | www.jlest.photo

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