Here at Quotable Magazine, we had the fantastic opportunity to speak with the female founders of Après Hours, a canned espresso martini brand. Alexis Smith and Nicole Craven’s joint venture combines alcohol with caffeine in a convenient and trendy way.
Start by giving us a quick overview of what Aprés Hour is and what makes it unique.
Après Hours is a line of ready-to-drink Espresso Martinis. Available in three flavors—Classic, Salted Caramel, and Vanilla—dairy-free, gluten-free, and 10% ABV.
Après Hours was born from our obsession with espresso martinis and inspired by creating a culture that empowers change, encourages people to break boundaries, levels the playing field, and changes the dynamics of drinking.
Where did the concept for Aprés Hour and espresso martinis originate?
There was nothing on the shelf that even came close to comparing to our favorite Espresso Martini. There are also very few ready-to-drink cocktails that are female-founded, gluten-free, and dairy free, so we decided to create our own. Less than 2% of women own an RTD cocktail.
The alcohol industry is a trillion-dollar global industry, and yet it lags behind when it comes to gender diversity as it is male-dominated. Après Hours was made to inspire women to live a life that empowers change by breaking boundaries and leveling the playing field while changing the dynamics of drinking overall.
As a proudly female-founded business, Aprés Hour sets a great example for female entrepreneurs to look to—Before Aprés Hour did you ever expect to be an entrepreneur?
We both knew we wanted to create a company. Once we realized we wanted to start Après Hours, we went in full force. You must have the courage and willpower to turn an idea into a product.
How did the two of you meet?
We worked together at a national PR firm eight years ago and have remained friends ever since. We were business partners first and friends second.
As a small team, how do you work together to get everything done?
We carefully prioritize tasks and try to keep the schedule manageable. Time management and communication are huge with a small team. Never let anything fall through the cracks.
Tell us about your company’s grant program and why that was an important part of the business for you.
Raising money to get this idea off the ground was not what we expected. The reality is that the alcohol industry is male-dominated, and many people didn’t believe two young female entrepreneurs would even make it to the production stage. It was simultaneously deflating and motivating, but we believed in our product and mission and pressed on until we found our perfect financial partners.
Our hope is to inspire other women to “shake things up” in any industry. That’s why we have established the “Après Hours Grant Program” to help fund female-founded startup businesses. The goal of the program is to streamline the fundraising process for women to create or continue to build businesses and shake things up in any industry they are in.
What are the logistics of the grant? (Who can apply, what are the conditions to apply, etc.)
We hope to inspire other women and girls to launch companies of their own. That’s why they have established the Après Hours Grant Program to help fund female-founded start-up businesses.
Describe an average day in the life of a CEO of a growing company. What’s something people might be surprised by that’s a part of your daily routine or schedule?
We both wake up at 4:45 a.m. to make our 5 a.m. workout class. But for a work day, every day is different. Some days we meet with our retailers or are on set for a photoshoot or packing boxes. On other days, we might be meeting with other companies to see how we can collaborate. We wear a lot of different hats and have our hands in every aspect of the business. It’s important to schedule each day.
After work we usually sip on our favorite espresso martini – Après Hours to celebrate the day and our accomplishments.
What has been the most challenging part of running your business? Have there been any specific barriers for women in the ready-to-drink/canned cocktail scene?
In the beginning, the pandemic was a challenging part of our business. Factories kept shutting down; timelines were being pushed back because of COVID. But we did not let that stop us.
How do you make time for yourself, amidst it all?
It’s important to find time for yourself. Waking up at 5 a.m. might be a pain. But from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. is our downtime to read, catch up on our personal lives, etc. At night? It doesn’t hurt that you can wind down with an Après Hours Espresso Martini. Our fridge is always stocked and ready.
Do you drink a martini every day? What’s it like working with alcohol all the time?
We get our pick-me-up every day, whether it’s from our morning cup of espresso or our nightly espresso martini. Not only are we an alcohol company, but we are a lifestyle brand. We love being in an industry where we can shake things up.
What inspires you?
Meeting so many different people that are passionate about what they do. It’s really encouraging, motivating, and inspiring.
What has been the most fulfilling part?
Seeing and hearing other women encouraged to start their own companies.
What developments do you see happening with the product(s) in the future?
We have big plans for the future. More product launches. We’re also very excited to collab with other companies in 2023 who share the same mission.
In a world of female self-starters and entrepreneurs, Alexis and Nicole have made sure that there is always time for a cocktail. One that keeps you refreshed and fun at the same time, so that any true female trailblazer can get their work done while enjoying a great pick-me-up. Shop Après Hours now!