S1 E9: JAIME WINDON – RUM PIONEER
“The #1 qualification to work at Lyon Distilling is to love the rum.”
Seems obvious that the Founder and CEO of a company would want the employees to like the product, but coming from Jaime Windon it somehow sounds more real. In our conversation, it became abundantly clear that Jaime’s primary focus is making customers happy…and it clearly goes beyond customers. She’s an energy giver, a creator, and a positive force of nature.
As an American rum distiller, she is part of a tiny, tiny club. Finding that niche started with something simple: Jaime loves rum. And for someone who has had several career incarnations and lived in several corners of the Earth, carving out a niche this specific comes from an extremely informed worldview. Sense of place is critical and constructive to Jaime, running her shop in a sailing town in a state that was integral to the spirits business—and rum, in particular—dating back to the 1700’s.
Jaime says that every decision she’s made at Lyon Distilling has been made out of necessity. From buying a scalable shelving system at Sam’s Club that could display her growing number of offerings to how she determined that a local roastery was the right provider of the key ingredient for her coffee rum liqueur. The decisions have been spot on.
Here are Three Big How’s from a true original and true source of positive energy:
THREE BIG HOW’S
Dipping your toe into the water won’t work. You have to throw yourself all in. That doesn’t necessarily mean financially, but you need to thrust your mind and imagination into the thing to bring your idea or goal to fruition. To some, that will definitely sound scary. Jaime described it differently. The word she used was THRILLING. That’s a revealing and insightful illustration of attitude
KNOW THE LANDSCAPE
Jaime believes you need to understand the landscape clearly to determine and carve out your own purpose and approach. From a spirits standpoint, there is A LOT out there, so you must explore that in order to avoid imitation. “Copycatting makes me feel like someone stole my soul,” Jaime said. Interestingly, she also said that customers come in all the time and say things like, “You should make Fireball.” Jaime’s response? “Fireball makes Fireball.” Seems obvious, but many companies have built their businesses on imitating someone else product and brand. Jaime’s not interested.
This podcast is all about giving you the tools you need to start doing something you’re dreaming about. This “How” from Jaime was about determining what you should distill…but it’s been echoed by other guests and many elite creatives from the past. Ernest Hemingway said, “Write the truest sentence that you know.” This was a piece of advice intended to guide the writer and jumpstart the process. If you write what you know, you’re surely going to be speaking authentically. Similarly, Jaime said to make something that YOU need or YOU want. That will help you create with passion and evaluate your own product with expert judgement.
BONUS HOW: READ A BEAUTIFUL CONSTRAINT
The subhead after this book’s title is “How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages.” Jaime learned exactly that from the book. She said that constraints can become guidelines and sources of creativity instead of roadblocks if you start looking at them differently. The book provides a literal and mental toolkit for you to use when attacking opportunities. Seems like a good idea for anyone who experiences limitations from time to money to being stuck in a creative rut.
It’s hard to put into words how much energy and positivity Jaime brought to the table during our interview. From the second we walked into the door of her tasting room, she was inviting us to become part of the Lyon Distilling experience. Prior to talking with her, we might have called that “her brand,” but that seems small compared to how Jaime sees it. She is driven by taking care of her customers and making them happy, and that’s always a great lesson to relearn.