Today we’d like to introduce you to Phoenix Nic.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Before becoming a bartender, I worked in various restaurants, from age 16 until 21, including The Shack in Playa Del Rey, Black Angus (when it was in Cerritos), Red Lobster (Lakewood), etc. However, as a server, there was no room for creativity. After turning 21, I went to bartending school and got my certificate. Since I had no experience, I couldn’t get any restaurant jobs. I thought, “Forget it. I’ll create my own business.”
I would hold drink tastings at my house with a small group of alcoholics–I mean, close and dear friends–to test out random creations. After a few of these tastings, I realized that being heavy-handed was a gift. Although my drinks were deadly, they were delicious, which is where the name PBK comes from. PBK, or Pink Brass Knuckles, means that the drinks will hit hard, like a man would like it, but they’ll be delicious and irresistible, like a woman might like.
From then on, I became a one-woman bartending business. In 2015, I added on the DJ services provided by DJ Lance.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Some struggles in being a freelance bartender include promotion and people trying to underestimate my business skills. Firstly, people my age are some of the most creative people I’ve ever seen. We’ve made jobs and careers out of just convincing people that they need us. However, a bartender can only do so much convincing. No one needs a bartender every single day. Plus, bartenders are a dime a dozen. If you go on Craigslist, you could book a bartender in five minutes. Why would anyone want to book a rookie for $25 per hour, when they could book one for $20 per hour who had 10+ years of experience? Even now, promotion on social media only goes so far.
Also, in my earlier years of bartending, I didn’t know about contracts so I wouldn’t charge a deposit for services, which is a huge no-no for freelancers. After turning down gigs for verbal agreements that fell through, I learned about contracts and deposits, which saved me so much trouble and stress. I’ve also had to deal with “event planners” trying to undercut me so they could make more money off my services.
There have been a lot of lessons I’ve had to learn along the way, but it’s only helped me become more assertive and stronger in business.
Please tell us about PBK Bartending.
Although PBK isn’t bartending a party every weekend, I am proud to be known for my efficiency, professionalism and awesome customer service! Even if I don’t have a gig every weekend, I’ve had returning customers who will book me each year for their events because they love the customer service I provide. For example, I have done a birthday party for the same customer for the past seven years. Each year, I’m there for no less than eight hours, but when I am packing up, the same party-goers ask the same questions, “Aww… You’re leaving already?! Well, we’ll see you next year, right??” I love that. I love when the guests are already looking forward to our next event together. While anyone can mix drinks, I believe that not everyone can build lasting relationships, which I think sets PBK apart from anyone else.
When I bartend, my goal isn’t only to serve delicious drinks, it’s also to make connections. Whether it’s remembering their favorite drinks, calling them by their first names, or mixing up their own concoction, I’m trying to make everyone feel like the star of the show. To me, everyone’s drink is personal.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood is Christmas, when the entire family would be together. My mom was always in charge of dessert because she always created unique creations. One year, she made a sweet potato cheesecake, which was a hit amongst all of our family and friends. The amount of joy that cheesecake brought was awe-inspiring.
- Bartending Services = $30 per hour
- DJ Services = $75 per hour
- PBK Shots = $20-30
- Website: www.PBKBartending.com
- Phone: 310-703-4127
- Email: Phoenix@PBKBartending.com
- Instagram: @PBKBartending
- Facebook: PBK Bartending