With all of the craziness of the NFR going on, I was thrilled to be able to sit down with Katie Beal Brown, Founder of Lone River Beverage Company for a few minutes to catch up with her to chat about all things Ranch Water, entrepreneurship and what the future holds for her and Lone River Ranch Water. I am so thrilled with how this piece came out and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Katie’s story of building Lone River Beverage Company is one that deserves to be shared because it grounds us in the values of an industry we love so much. It’s a testament to hard work and determination, and there’s a lot to be learned from it. We will hear more from Katie below, but she grew up on her family’s ranch in a small, far-west Texas town. Having grown up living the western lifestyle, she was itching to get away to experience new things and a new place. After marrying her husband, Tyler, the couple set off to New York. Little did Katie know, this is where she would develop a way to capture a little glimpse of far west Texas in order to share it with the world.
In the Lights of Las Vegas | Interview with Katie Beal Brown
Krysta: We are sitting here on the ground floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center at Cowboy Christmas with Ranch Water being promoted around every turn. How does that feel for you looking back from where it all started two years ago?
Katie: It’s crazy! We started in April 2020 only selling Ranch Water in Texas and Tennessee. I knew I always wanted to get involved in the NFR in some way but I felt like it would be a long time before we were able to do that. At the time, it would have required us to expand into Nevada plus all of the logistics that came with that. So in 2020, when they moved the NFR to Texas, it was like this serendipitous opportunity for us and we were able to sponsor the event to start getting our name out there.
At that time, we had spent so much time building our business and connecting with people online that we hadn’t really been out in public at all since our business had launched. It was truly an experience I will never forget. Being here this year is a reminder of where we’ve come from and it’s really the people in this community that have got behind us to help make this business a success.
Krysta: From idea to launch, what did that timeline for Ranch Water look like?
Katie: I grew up in West Texas on my family’s working ranch that was settled over 100 years ago. Then, when I got married, I moved to New York with my husband. That was really a pivotal moment in my life because it was my first time really far away from home and when you’re in that situation, it can bring a lot of clarity to defining things about yourself. At that time, I realized how much where I grew up really defined me and set me apart, especially being in a world that was so different. With moving to New York, I was always trying to find a way to introduce where I came from. But to be honest, a lot of people had no frame or reference of the town I grew up in without a map. So I started using this cocktail called “Ranch Water” as a way to share more about where I was from. As I started to introduce it to my friends up there, they were always so interested in the story and asked me more about the culture, and then they started introducing the cocktail to their friends.
That really got my wheels turning and at the time I was working in advertising so I really had the tools to go out and start to build a brand to bring it to life. I started the development process in New York and in 2020 we decided to put it on the shelf. We got buy-in from one of the biggest retailers in Texas, but we had a deadline to have it on the shelf by April 1, 2020, which was right when the global pandemic unfolded. We had every challenge in the book that we had to navigate through, but we were incredibly resilient and made the deadline. I owe the resiliency to how I grew up. I was raised to figure out how to problem solve for myself and how to be resourceful and never take “no” at face value.
Krysta: You mention work ethic quite a bit when describing what it took to help you build this company to where it is today, but what did that work ethic look like in the day-to-day operations in the beginning?
Katie: When we first set out to do this, I was really doing three jobs; a full-time job in advertising, a new mom with a newborn baby and then I was doing this on the side, trying to figure out how to build this business, which required a lot of discipline and sacrifices. A lot of times, people have great ideas but the difference is not a lot of people are willing to make the sacrifices to go the extra mile to bring them to life. Work ethic is a value for us. That’s just how I grew up and I’m always going to work hard. Someone told me early in my life, if you’re going to do something, do it 100% and that’s just how I’ve approached everything.
Krysta: Managing a growing company is one thing, but managing a growing company while starting a family is a whole other story. Can you dive deeper into what it’s like managing it all and finding balance when you’re being pulled in so many directions?
Katie: We raised a million dollars from our friends and family while I still was working full-time in advertising. At that point, I had a real responsibility to those people to go out there and be focused on this so that I could get the best value for them. The last thing I wanted to do is look my family in the face and have lost their money. There is a defining moment for every entrepreneur where you have to make that decision to go all in and that for me, was the clearest moment where I felt like it wasn’t just about me anymore.
Krysta: The future for Lone River Beverage Company is bright, but where do you personally hope to see the company in the next 3-5 years?
Katie: I set out to share the story of Ranch Water and Lone River Beverage Company to celebrate the culture of Farwest Texas. What I didn’t realize is that that culture is emblematic of the larger western lifestyle and it would resonate with so many people across the country who have similar stories and experiences. Watching how much other people from far-reaching places have related to our culture has been really powerful for me to see. I really want Lone River to be a platform to pioneer this kind of modern west in America, and we’ll be able to continue to do that through our brand. When we look at bringing new people into the western lifestyle, it is very easy for them to justify buying a six-pack of Ranch Water so they can feel like they’re part of the western culture. My goal is to start bringing more people into this lifestyle while also ensuring that it feels very modern, inclusive, and relatable.
Krysta: Ranch Water aside, what does your next venture look like? Or what would you like to personally be working on in the coming years?
Katie: We came in and we really challenged the way that people were doing things and we disrupted an entire category. I think there’s so much opportunity for us to do this in other segments or products that come from the Lone River spirit and I really want to see how far we can take that. Then personally, I’ve just gotten so much fulfillment out of doing things like speaking, attending mastermind events, and connecting with other women that have entrepreneurial ambitions and I want to find a way to more formally, give them a platform and use my experience and wisdom from my journey to help them start to go down that path. That’s something I’m still figuring out but hopefully, in the next five or so years, I’ll come up with something in that area as well.
Krysta: A lot of entrepreneurs have a deep calling towards creating and being a part of something larger than themselves. It seems as though you followed your own calling, but what would you say to other entrepreneurs who are on the path of discovering their own?
Katie: Having grown up in a small town, I was dead set on getting out of there because I felt like I was meant for bigger things. The irony is not lost on me that after moving away, the bigger thing was actually connecting back with where I come from and what that means. I always knew that I wanted to do something entrepreneurial and I wanted to build something myself and this was the first idea that I felt so personally connected to, that no matter what happens, I can stand behind it and say that was the right decision. It wouldn’t have mattered if I lost every dime, or if it was incredibly successful. I think it’s really digging into understanding what the purpose is behind what you’re doing, and if that’s something that you feel like you can wake up every day and feel inspired by, then I think it’s the right thing to do, because no matter what happens, you’re gonna learn something, and you’re gonna feel like there was a reason for you to be walking down that path.
About Lone River Beverage Company
Lone River Beverage Company was founded in 2019 by Texas native, Katie Beal Brown. Her product, “Ranch Water” is a celebration of her Texas heritage and an homage to what West Texas stands for. She also had a goal of offering something beyond the typical seltzer flavors that were currently on the market. With that goal in mind, she was able to grow and expand the brand exponentially during a time when many others were sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what would happen. Because of that, Lone River Ranch Water is the premier source for a truly authentic, West Texas experience.
If you were to look up “ranch water” on Google right now, you are going to find that its origins actually stem from a long-time recipe traditionally made with Topo Chico, tequila, and a squeeze of lime. As the story goes, a rancher in West Texas “created” the recipe in the 1960s. It was said that the drink had him following the stars in Texas, all the way from Fort Davis to Marathon. Then, at the end of his journey, he was found sound asleep under a piñon tree. Since then, the recipe has been a West Texas staple for the last several decades, but only now is it coming together to be available in town near you.
Lone River is also available via delivery platforms Drizly, GoPuff, and Minibar. To learn more, visit www.loneriverbevco.com. Make sure to follow them on your favorite social media channel by following the links below. Enjoy Responsibly.
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