Meet Louise Van Winkle Breen, co-founder of Pappy & Co., the new merchandise company for Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon (affectionately known as Pappy in these parts). An identical triplet, Louise and her two sisters created their own niche in their family business. They set out to satisfy their customers with clothing, barware and other merchandise because the actual bourbon is so hard to find.
What do you do for a living? Have you always worked in “the family business”?
I run Pappy & Co. along with my two sisters. Until we launched Pappy & Co. in mid-September, we had not played a large role in the family business. Our older brother, Preston Van Winkle, began working with my Dad right out of college, but being such a small company, there had not been room for the three of us. Well, that is until we created a place for ourselves with our new line of merchandise! We saw this as an exciting way to involve ourselves in the “family business” while also offering a unique slice of it to our fans and customers.
When did your family decide to start selling merchandise for its product?
My brother had produced some merchandise for our family over the years and we found that people were always asking where they could find it, so we knew there was interest. We were all together last Christmas and decided it was time to have a better answer for people and got serious about creating a line of merchandise for the Van Winkle Bourbon fans.
Do you drink bourbon? (You can be honest here). What is your favorite drink?
I really like bourbon, but honestly most of the time I just sneak (when we even have any) sips of my husband’s drink. My go-to cocktails are margaritas and white wine.
Do people accost you or your family about getting a bottle of Pappy?
Well, yes it does seem to happen, especially these days. Honestly, the hardest part is not being able to help everyone who is on the hunt for a bottle, we really wish we could. That was actually one of the driving forces behind our decision to create the Pappy & Co. brand: to offer an entire line of goods geared towards this enthusiasm for Van Winkle bourbon. Hopefully, it’s a little something that can sate their appetites until they can get the real thing!
How do you balance your job and your personal life?
This is something I think a lot of people struggle with, and honestly something that I am learning to juggle right now. I actually work from home, and with a three year old daughter it can be tough to balance it all out. Most of the time I feel like I am pulled in two different directions and I usually feel as if something in my life isn’t getting the amount of attention I want to be able to provide. Hopefully as I continue with the business, I will continue to work on the balancing act.
What is the biggest life lesson you have ever learned?
I have learned that opportunities don’t always present themselves twice, and when you have the chance to do something you love, with the people you love, you should absolutely go for it.
Who is your mentor?
Luckily, my sisters and I have been able to watch our dad, and more recently our brother, pour their hearts into the family business our entire lives. When your name is behind something, it gives you a more passionate drive and desire and we have seen that firsthand. It means that sometimes the work day is never done, but it also provides an incredible level of satisfaction and hands-on involvement. They support our new endeavor 100% and we are so grateful for that.
What is best advice you have received in business?
I’ve gotten so much great advice as we have taken on this new adventure, but one thing that continues to resonate with me is to “start small.” That is how we have approached our brand launch as we initially introduce a small selection of items and have plans to expand into a full lifestyle brand offering a full array of merchandise for the bourbon lover. It has certainly helped me to not feel too overwhelmed and to learn what type of product most interests our fans and customers.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
Cooking is something I have always been passionate about and something that I love to do for friends and family. I don’t have as much time these days to do it, but if I wasn’t working on this, I could see myself doing some small catering ventures or cooking lessons.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
That I am an identical triplet.
What is your favorite place to go eat?
I absolutely love Seviche but am also excited to try Milkwood and some of the other new local spots. The dining scene in Louisville has become very exciting and diverse lately and I love that! A go to favorite for a quick meal for our family is always Simply Thai.
Where do you like to shop?
Well, shopping has also fallen on the list of things I don’t seem to have much time for these days, but when I do, I love a spin through Anthropologie and am always up for hunting for home décor at antique and consignment shops.
What is a treat or a luxury you do for yourself?
An occasional massage. I wish it could be more than occasional event though!
What is your weakness?
Chocolate. Also desk organization–I can’t seem to avoid the pile syndrome even though everything has a designated place.
What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
I love running the trails at Cherokee park. I lived in Sun Valley, Idaho, for almost ten years and fell in love with the mountains and trail running, so it’s my mini-slice of Idaho right in Louisville.
Three things you cannot live without (besides God, family and friends):
- Bananas with peanut butter
- My iPhone
What are you reading right now?
Sadly, I rarely seem to be able to finish a book these days, but right now it’s Garden and Gun magazine on my bedside table.
What are three of your “favorite” things right now:
My neon pink skinny cords from the Gap
The feel of fall in the air
A shipping app called Shiplark that has drastically cut the amount of time it takes to ship items to customers!
Thank you to Louise for a great session and for unveiling all the Pappy merchandise to us. For more information, visit their website at www.pappyco.com
Thank you to Adele Reding photography for being the “best of the best” time and time again with our FACES. Be sure to book early for your Christmas Card photo shoots; space is limited! For more information about Adele, visit her website at adeleredingphotography.com.