Interview Fridays have always been our favorite, as talking to other entrepreneurs and inspiring people in their fields have been incredibly amazing. We met the CEO of Holy Craft Brewing Company, Steve Seto, at a TAP-SF (Taiwanese-American Professionals- SF) event, and were lucky enough to talk to him and the Founder, Philip Fabian, the Brewmaster. Holy Craft Brewing Co. is located in San Francisco: read on for more after the jump!
Wonderland Organics: Where were you working before Holy Craft Brewery?
Philip Fabian: I worked in tech financial services for a firm that is universally recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in America. I worked as a Client Support Representative.
Wonderland Organics: That’s great! Clearly you’ve been able to transfer some of those skills over to Holy Craft Brewery. What’s the inspiration behind your company?
Philip Fabian: It really was a hobby that grew beyond what I imagined it to be. At first my friends and I thought it would’ve been cheaper to make our own beer – which was true for a little while. But when you start purchasing expensive ingredients to brew with (South American chocolate or a rare honey made exclusively in the swamps of Florida for example) then the original intent of it being cost efficient kinda goes out the window in lieu of making something crazy and something unique. Not only that but I took some time off of work to study at the UC Davis School of Brewing Sciences to learn from two leading academics of the field.
But the most rewarding thing about doing something like this is creating something that people enjoy. I’ve never been so humbled by the incredible positive response to my development as a brewer and most importantly my transition to a professional in this field.
Not only that but I quit working for my previous company which is almost universally ranked as one of the fastest growing companies in America. It takes a lot of confidence to make the sort of jump that I did.
Wonderland Organics: That’s something that we have in common, doing research and development with expensive ingredients in the skincare industry 🙂 How is it working with your partners?
Philip Fabian: You’ve got to work with people that are greatly skilled at what they do and respect their decision making. Listen to what they have to say while being firm when it comes to standing your position on things. Like any relationship, the social dynamics are going to fluctuate – sometimes you’ll get along, sometimes you’ll butt heads. But that’s the beauty of it because people like me can’t start and run a company on my own. I need to work with people that are fantastic at what I’m weak at and likewise for them.
Wonderland Organics: Excellent way of putting it. We’re looking forward to having partners for WO one day too! What’s a day like at the Holy Craft Brewery?
Philip Fabian: As of right now it’s to build our brand and getting into as many places as we can. We hold a lot of tasting sessions with prospective vendors, building our marketing, managing the inventory, checking on our vendors amongst a plethora of other things. Unfortunately a “set schedule” doesn’t bode well with a start-up company because there are many things that need to be done that we wonder how we find time to sleep.
Wonderland Organics: We love this question, as our interviewees all have different answers to a typical day. Which beer would you recommend?
Philip Fabian: We only have one readily available at the moment a Belgian Style Golden Ale at 8.5% ABV. It has a sweet smooth body with a bite of bitterness at the end. The response to this beer ranged from “Tastes like the beer from when I lived in Belgium” to “Wow this totally tastes better than Budweiser!”
Wonderland Organics: It tastes quite hoppy to us, we like it! Do you have any events coming up?
Philip Fabian: A few, but they’re in the works right now so we can’t comment too much on them at the moment. Stay tuned!
Wonderland Organics: We’re looking forward to them! Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs?
Philip Fabian: Make sure you’re starting a business to support your passion in your product more than as means of making money. I say this because I have met other entrepreneurs who started a business for the wrong reasons and now they either don’t feel passionate about it or ran the business into the ground. They cut corners, didn’t listen to feedback, and cared more about maximizing profits while investing with the bare minimum. So it wasn’t surprising when even their most loyal customers began to wane toward the competition
You’ve got to have passion for what you do and your passion will show in your work. Only then the money will start to trickle in. Successful start-ups thrive on passion, ingenuity and and overall willingness to continuously improve. It took me a few years, a formal education and a lot of networking to get in the position that I am only now just beginning. And once you’re in you’ll actually see how intimidating the business world can really be.
We’re going up against companies that have their logos plastered in every stadium in America, have exclusive contracts with farms, won multiple Gold Medals in the World Beer Cup (Like the Oscars for Brewers worldwide), brew masters that have 20+ years of experience and not only that: we’re in one of the most competitive beer markets in the country. But what drives me the most to wake up each morning is my passion for what I do – make awesome beer for equally awesome people. If I focus on that, and just that, I think I’ll be OK and Holy Craft has a fighting chance. Stay passionate and continuously seek to improve yourself and your product.
Wonderland Organics: Thank you for this, Philip! We hope our readers will take this to heart. What’s your favorite part of the Wonderland Organics blog?
Philip Fabian: You seem to interview a lot of budding entrepreneurs. I know a lot of people dream about starting their own business and its always fascinating to learn about entrepreneurial endeavors from those that already made the jump.
As always, check out our blog for more interviews soon. Let us know what you think in the comments below!