A few years ago, if you met Laura Taylor at a big tech conference or out traveling for her job at Tableau Software, Accenture or IBM, you’d probably think she was the definition of a working woman who “does it all.”
Taylor grew her career in software sales and business development while raising her two kids. Both she and her husband relocated to Berwyn from California with high-demand jobs, and often, during travel or work events, alcohol was centered in the deal-making culture.
Whether it’s meeting to talk with a client over drinks, hosting a business event or attending a conference, alcohol plays a big part in modern-day business practices, Taylor said.
“I was feeling a lot of pressure to live up to my own expectations, drinking was very much a part of the business process,” she told Technical.ly. “And then personally, I was turning to drinking as a release. I found myself in a situation that built up over time where I was turning to alcohol to release, to celebrate, to mourn. Really any emotion, it seemed to fit the bill.”
From the outside, she said, she was keeping it all together, but internally, she said she realized she was “not doing so good.”
But Taylor, who now considers herself in recovery, realized when she stopped drinking how integral it had been to both her social and business lives. She was inspired to learn about drink options for people in recovery that would still allow them to feel included, and came up with a few nonalcoholic “mocktail” recipes while researching business options. Taylor also wondered, after working for years in tech, if she was ready to end her career without the chance at working for herself.
A real-life test came in 2017, when she was invited on a trip with some friends, and brought along what is now called the Cranberry Cosmo.
“At first I felt weird,” Taylor said. “They opened up their stuff and made drinks, but I had mine, and I poured my own drink and had this internal spark like, ”This is really special.’ I’m still participating but on my own terms.”
Shortly after, Taylor launched Mingle Mocktails, a line of alcohol-free bottled cocktails with the goal of inclusion in social events for folks who are sober, taking a break from alcohol, are pregnant or who are too young to drink.
The mocktails are made from fruit and botanicals, and Taylor said she’s been active within the recovery community while developing the products and the company. The bottled drinks are for sale on the company’s website and on retailers like Amazon, QVC and Whole Foods.
While her business is somewhat of a departure from her previous career, it’s been a joy to figure out how to intersect her skills from both, she said. And as a small business — Taylor has a handful of employees, and an advisory board — she said she calls on her corporate knowledge all the time when it comes to deal making and business practices.
There’s also lots of times when entrepreneurship is difficult, like feeling guilt about taking a few days off for a vacation or not having a corporate budget to lean back on, but Taylor said its a fair trade off with the feeling of knowing she’ll end her career building something on her own.
“There’s so much benefit in realizing your own potential. I feel like I am able to bring my best and challenge myself in a way I wouldn’t have done under a corporate umbrella,” she said. “Making a career choice to start your own business is hard, but I think about how unfulfilled I’d be if I didn’t give this my best effort.”