Life Over Lattes: Crafting the Happiest of Hours With Salty Paloma
We all know the saying, “The devil is in the detail.” So while a good drink might seem fairly simple to whip up, there is an art when it comes to crafting the perfect cocktail. Just ask Amanda Chen.
When she and her friends were trying to make margaritas at home, it was during this time when Amanda realized just how much goes into making this classic Mexican drink. And how even the littlest of details can make the biggest difference. So what did she do? Created her own company, of course!
By tapping into the home-bartending world, Amanda has since been shaking things up in the cocktail world by hand-crafting naturally-flavored cocktail rimmers. So if you love a good cocktail — and who doesn’t?! — and find entrepreneurial journeys inspiring, you’ll be sure to love Amanda’s story below.
Let’s get started!
Name: Amanda Chen
Location: Toronto, Canada
To get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Amanda, founder of Salty Paloma. I’m also a former journalist turned digital marketer. I’ve lived in New York and London, and am now based in Toronto hand-crafting naturally-flavored cocktail rimmers in small batches. I love to travel and experience local life in all parts of the world.
Recently, you launched your own handcrafted cocktail company, Salty Paloma. How exciting! What was the catalyst behind this decision?
It was all kind of random, actually. I was hanging out with a friend and we decided to make margaritas at home when I realized who even does that?! I never actually made one at home. This is when I realized there is a lot that goes into making one yourself — tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and of course, margarita salt.
So, I thought hey, there must be people in this world that would appreciate a good margarita if they could make it at home. And, of course, I wanted to make a real difference, so I made sure my products were made of premium salt and sugar. It was then I realized no one’s tapped into this home-bartending world of accessorizing your drinks with cocktail rimmers. While there are plenty of salt companies that are more artisan food based, there were no company that specifically focuses on cocktails. That is, until now!
Tell us more about the concept behind Salty Paloma. How did you up with that awesome name?
The key ingredient in all my flavors is grapefruit zest, because it’s a tangy twist on traditional lime salt – usually people add orange zest to this. Paloma is the lesser-known tequila drink that is basically tequila and grapefruit soda, what I like to call the vodka soda of tequila drinks. You can drink this with a salt or sugar rim, or with nothing.
Throwing in Salty Paloma just adds a bit of personality to the brand — for people who are a bit salty themselves, who want to be different, make a statement. The personality behind Salty Paloma is for bold people that aren’t afraid to express themselves. And, what better way to express yourself than adding a bit of flavor to your favorite cocktail!
In addition to running your own business, you are also a digital content and social media strategist. How do you find time to juggle both gigs?
Well, I work a normal 9-5 that sometimes goes late depending on what’s happening at work, so I spend the free evenings and weekends I have on Salty Paloma. The challenge is to pace myself, because all you really need to do is keep going and success will follow. The trick is to not stop what you’re doing, just switch up the pace if it gets too much.
The way I think about it, I’d already be experimenting with cocktails on my time off, so this is just like a more serious way of doing what I’d already be doing. Once you find something that doesn’t feel like work or just meshes with your normal lifestyle, it won’t feel like you’re working at all.
What have you found to be most challenging about running your own business? And on the other hand, what has been the most rewarding about being your own boss?
The most challenging thing about running your own business is not knowing what you’re even doing most of the time. It’s super scary, but also extremely exhilarating.
And, of course the most rewarding part is receiving success from doing things totally in your own way. When I got my first sale for Salty Paloma, I couldn’t contain my happiness. I had made a product in the world that people wanted to buy and use. That meant so much more than any success at a ‘regular’ job.
Can you describe what a typical day looks like for you?
A typical day involves a lot of emailing, to prospective retailers, local market venues, and bloggers. Then, I create a new cocktail after playing around Pinterest and shoot the piece, create the blog post, and schedule it. There’s a lot of researching for something new to do, while also connecting with people online.
In your opinion, what makes the best cocktail!?
Real lime juice! I find store-bought juices taste too sugary and artificial, totally changing the flavor of a cocktail. Lime juice is a staple in a lot of cocktails, and freshly squeezing limes is definitely the way to go. If it turns out too sour for you though, you can always add simple syrup. Again, make it at home or use agave!
What are some of your main sources of inspiration?
I’m always on Pinterest! And, I follow a lot of cocktail enthusiasts and mixologists on Instagram that are always creating something new.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is stuck in a job they don’t enjoy and want to make a change?
Sit down and figure out what really motivates you. I’ve been wanting to start my own business for a long time and I thought it would be in the realm of digital marketing, but it turned out to be food.
Now that I look back at it, it’s no surprise. I’ve always been a foodie, and have loved traveling the world to learn about different cultures, specifically around food. As soon as you find the one thing that really ignites your passion, you’ll be crazy not to pursue it. Your heart will be leaping for it, so all you’ll have to do is get past the fear and go for it!
Lastly, what does creativity mean to you?
Creativity to me means doing things differently. You don’t have to be extreme on making something new that’s never been done before. As long as it’s different from the norm and it means something to you, it’s creative.
Thank you so much, Amanda. Is it five o’clock yet!?
*all photos provided by Amanda Chen