Belinda's dispatch from the road: Happy Camper Cocktails' summer 2017
May 04, 2018
2017-2018 was, excuse my language, a helluva year.
It was a BIG year of growth for me, personally and professionally, with Happy Camper Cocktail Company.
On a professional level, there were weddings that made me laugh, cry, and over-caffeinate. We did our first brand promotion partnership with a major corporation. We crafted celebrations & intimate executive retreats for top Seattle area companies. Happy Camper Cocktails served corporate employee picnics for some major local players. We even moved forward on our new catering kitchen space in Wilkeson and our Simple Goodness Syrups collaboration with Venise, but those are subjects for future blogs!
a spa mocktail pop up at Amazon for Amazon prime Day with Clarisonic
And then right in the middle of it all, one beautiful new baby boy was born. Hayes Harold Kelly arrived to much fanfare and a bit of panic (he came very quickly once labor began) on June 20th, at Swedish Hospital Seattle.
This summer was pretty incredible. The Kelly's grew as a family immensely, learning to navigate life as a family of four. We had to learn to be parents to two, and Henry had to learn to be a sibling (though that came fairly naturally- he loves his brother so much already.) I also learned we'd need to start packing the night before to be on time ANYWHERE, and I learned just what we Kelly's are made of, as we all tried our best to do it all somewhat gracefully, during a jam-packed event season for the business. Somewhere in the middle, I became a viral meme on instagram and facebook, when this haggard photo that summarized my new mom life got shared by a bunch of parenting groups:
The Happy Camper Cocktail Company team served groups of 50 friends to corporate groups of 1500, and everywhere in between. We won TWO categories of the best of 2017 awards by Seattle Bride Mag (best new vendor and best bar service.) I was incredibly honored and humbled to be brought into some of the biggest moments in my clients' lives, to celebrate with them.
I'd savor the work-free days of the week as well as I could, taking the boys on many Costco trips, making cocktails to take photos of at our long and wonderful playdates with our friends, and trying to cuddle with the new baby as long as possible while trying to also keep a toddler entertained and involved. Then Thursday would come around again. Most nights before an event I would toss and turn while going over and over my packing check list in my head, worrying that I might forget something. I'd get up to nurse Hayes every two to three hours and struggle to get back to sleep in between, anticipating the excitement of the busy day ahead. I'd wake up so tired, pour a large cup of coffee, and tear forward. I remember having the distinct thought that in the near future, say 9 months or so from now (as it is currently) I would remember these days in a haze, possibly even begin to romanticize them. I hoped like Hell that I would not regret them. The stress of the summer got to my husband and I sometimes. We drank chilled white wine from our stockpile that had been delivered tauntingly all winter by our wine club (finally, I was allowed again to consume this heavenly elixir!) on our porch and talked about how crazy we felt, how maybe we should quit, how it was too late to quit, and how we'd better just suck it up. We promised each other to do our best, because what else can we do?
This is a photo of Keri, but summarizes well how we felt at times this summer.
This business challenges me, and that's why I continue to remain so invested in it. Every event pushes me to grow, to innovate, to evolve. Each event also moves me, as I bear witness to intimate moments in people's lives- their first dance as a couple, toasts to a happy retirement. I problem solve and I make drinks, and this summer, I cried. I cried when the older sister toasted her newly married baby sister and told stories that sounded so much like mine and Venise's childhood memories, and I cried with thanks the week of my 29th birthday when our team completed our biggest event yet and I looked around to see the astoundingly supportive people who have rallied around this dream. With those post-natal hormones, oh how I cried this summer!
The summer of 2017 surprised me with its momentum, and it humbled me with moments of awe and appreciation for this joy that I️ get to contribute to people’s lives. We hustled hard and I️ wore my baby boy in the boba wrap nearly every moment. He slept through 3 black tie affairs, nestled away in venue office's with my mom, and he rode with me always for camper pick up and drop offs at events my staff covered. We nursed in every parking lot from here to Snohomish, I'm pretty sure of it. We served some delicious drinks and expanded our menu to include some new favorites. We partnered with some incredible creative and logistic folks like Elegant Affairs, Holcomb Weddings and Events, Shindig Events and CRG events. We added two new wholesale partners, Batch 206 Distilling and Pursuit Distilling, to our already stellar lineup including Woodinville Whiskey and Heritage Distilling whose products I pour so proudly. We grew our business, our staff, our venue partnerships, and our family this summer.
Don't worry, we weren't serving any alcohol at this event
I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking after one last thing: Thank You! Thank you to every person who shares our social media posts, voted for us, encourages us, tells a friend about us, and hires us. I️ continue to be floored by the flooding of support we have and I️ could not do all of this without you. Thank you to my husband, the hardest worker I know and the father of my TWO baby boys (!), Troy. I wouldn't want to do any of it without you to fight about it with, babe! Now excuse me while I bawl as I watch this slideshow, and remember (without romanticism) how crazy/wonderful/hard/full this summer was.
Here are my secrets for pre-batching drinks for parties. As a former cocktail caterer who has served drinks on mountain tops, in the woods, in horse corrals, backstage at music festivals, and to thousands of thirsty wedding guests, I have some tips for making batched cocktails for events.