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Meet Jennifer Cooper of Juniper Rocks Vintage Trailer Bar in West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Cooper.

Jennifer, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up in the small English town of Repton, the first job I ever had was working as a waitress and bartender at my local pub. Reflecting on the warm memories and joy I felt from pulling pints and chatting with locals, it’s easy to see how this experience ignited my passion for working in the hospitality and service industry. Since moving to Los Angeles eleven years ago, I have had the privilege of working in some of the finest restaurants and luxury hotels in the city. The knowledge I gained from years of experience along with all of the invaluable mentors I learned from along the way lead me to recognize and appreciate the complexities of doing hospitality right.

Working at Shade Hotel in the Southbay, I refined my passion and focused primarily on special events, executing once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It’s an indescribable feeling, seeing the fruits of my labor bring joy to those who placed their trust in me to steer the ship, helping them create memories that will last a lifetime.

About a year ago, I began to feel an entrepreneurial itch that could only be scratched by paving my own path. I wanted to combine my event and hospitality experiencing with my passion for serving. I wanted to create a bar experience beyond the pop-up banquet table found in countless functions. But most importantly, I wanted to tap into the feeling of joy I had working in my local British pub many years ago, garnering new feelings of warmth, welcome, and comradery. And so Juniper Rocks, Vintage Trailer Bar was born.

Whether it be a backyard, warehouse, winery or ranch, wherever the party is, so goes the bar, ready to turn any event into a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Juniper Rocks is about bringing the venue to the client and serving not only amazing craft cocktails but also joy in the truest sense. The motto is simple. We pull up, we pour, you party.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Going down the path of starting a new business has been anything but a smooth ride. The learning curve of small business entrepreneurship is quite extreme for a newbie like myself. The most important lesson I learned in the beginning was that I simply can not do this alone. I have always considered myself to be an independant go-getter; it is my nature to try and do it all and in the case of Juniper Rocks, that included: design, SEO, bookkeeping, sales, marketing, operations and bartending. While I am extremely proud of the work I have accomplished, looking back, there were components of the business that I most certainly should have left to professionals.

The greatest example comes from creating business contracts. I thought I could do this on my own by frankensteining different legal documents taken from Google and sites like Rocket Lawyer. However, when I presented my work to my legal consultant, he found I had copied and pasted a clause incorrectly and in doing so had made myself liable to everything! I felt pretty stupid for making such a blatant mistake. Fortunately, the contract was amended before any damage was done. It was however, a wake-up call and made me realize that some things should definitely be trusted to a professional. It is okay to ask for help.

Another extreme challenge has been learning to tow a trailer. Before Juniper Rocks, I had never driven anything bigger than a Toyota Yaris, so the first time I jumped into a truck that was hitched to 1500lbs of life-savings was absolutely terrifying. But it wasn’t just the towing that was terrifying. There were moments where I got Juniper wedged on bumps in the road, stuck in sand pits, and backed into tight corners I thought impossible to escape. But I quickly realized that each mild panic attack and tear shed won’t solve the problem on its own. These circumstances forced me to pull myself together and find a solution, often involving the kindness of strangers to literally help push the trailer out of these pickles.

Now after months of practice, drama, and the lessons learned, operating a truck and trailer has become much easier and the result has been an understanding that if something is hard, you cannot give up and walk away. To thrive in this business, I needed to be thrust into unnerving circumstances and pull myself out the other side. This journey has made me more confident. I suppose the greatest takeaway might be this; if I wanted to succeed, I first needed to find comfort in discomfort. I needed to jump in, shut the door, take a breath and do it.

While it is one thing to find difficulty in literal vehicle operation, the most important challenge I believe worth mentioning is the ebb and flow of self-doubt and insecurity I have found in starting a new business, period. It is terrifying to put your everything into something and still feel like it’s not enough. It is a roller coaster of emotions where one day you are absolutely enamored with your efforts, celebrating your successes, and the next day, you are questioning everything you are doing and wondering how you ever convinced yourself that you are good enough to pull this off. Of course, social media is a double-edged sword. I constantly compare myself to my competitors, many whom make it look so easy.

Going back to the original lesson learned about needing help from others, I found an incredible support system that pushes me past moments of hardship and uncertainty. These people remind me to celebrate the wins and remember everything I have achieved in such a small window of time. Also, sharing these stories with other entrepreneurs and mentors in my field has helped me realize that all of these feelings are normal. I just have to acknowledge my doubts, even if I am stuck in an emotional wedge, or sand pit, or corner turn, I must embrace that feeling and push through. I have to jump back in, shut the door, take a breath and do it. It’s not easy. It is always a work in progress, but I would not want it any other way.

Juniper Rocks Vintage Trailer Bar – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Juniper Rocks Vintage Trailer Bar is a unique addition to any wedding, birthday, baby shower, conference, corporate holiday party, product launch, etc., the list is endless. And while our set up is adorable and very “instagrammable” what we really pride ourselves on is the service. Having worked in the event industry for a long time, I fully understand how much stress the planning process, for any type of party, can be. My goal is to make working with us as easy as possible. I pride myself on our speedy response time to any questions, transparent pricing, and friendly service. We work with our clients to learn their preferences and make recommendations regarding product and quantities for their event. My clients provide their own alcohol for their events which is hugely cost effective versus working with a company that will charge per drink, but I assist with what and where to order, logistics and chilling the beverages prior to event start time. In my eyes, nothing regarding cocktails should ever be stressful, and that’s why I strive to make Juniper Rocks the easiest, most reliable bartending company to work with.

While cocktail catering is our first love, we have had many requests to use Juniper in other ways. The trailer has been an information booth, merchandise mart, photoshoot prop, and candy station. We can’t wait to see the creative way she will be used next and so we also rent the trailer on its own without our bartenders.

One of my favorite features we offer is customization and branding of the trailer. Your event is about you and so we remove our logo and can replace it with your name, logo, event info, monogram, social media handles, etc. We partner with an incredible printing company that can create custom decals or fully wrap the trailer if required to completely change the color and design to match your brand or event theme.

We have so many exciting things in the works for Juniper Rocks:
As you can probably tell by the company name (Juniper being the key ingredient in gin) I am a huge gin aficionado and have big ideas for starting a gin revolution in the US. I will be working with gin brands to produce gin tastings to help introduce, educate and spread the joy found in a refreshing G&T.

We are also working on Pop-Up Happy Hours where we roll up and bring happy hour to the office. Companies can reward their employees with a unique after work cocktail experience or create a networking opportunity without even having to leave the parking lot.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
To me, the ultimate success is being happy in the decisions I have made and steps I have taken. I have always longed for momentum and forward motion in all areas of life and felt my most hopeless when stagnant. As long as I am growing, moving forward and happy, to me, that is success.

Pricing:

  • $200hr trailer rental or $1200 day rate
  • Holiday parties booked before September 1st receive 20% trailer rental discount AND custom decal with company logo.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tandem Photo, Zoom Theory Photography, Alicia Danielle Photography, Hitched Photography, Bella Strada Studio, The Events Boutique, First Pick Planning

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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