There are a few things that are important to high school friends and business partners Mark Schiller and Simeon Rossi.
Chief among them is sustainability, which affords them an interesting approach to their business, Loon Liquors, for which they plan to open a craft, organic micro-distillery in Northfield early next year.
How they approach that is best summed up by how the two Northfield High School graduates crafted their mission statement:
Loon Liquors mission is to craft delicious, unique, organic liquors from ingredients and packaging sourced as local as possible while maintaining a positive impact on the environment.
Schiller said they want to run a waste-free operation, meaning they want to recycle or compost everything they use in their distillery and supply chain.
“Particularly how we use resources and in what ways we can eliminate having a trashcan,” Schiller said.
The duo’s first product is aptly named Loonshine, a craft organic white whiskey.
They’ve also put a trademark on Minnesota’s first craft gin, which they’re calling MetropoliGin.
Once Loonshine hits the market, not only do they want to be acting sustainable, but they also want to give back to environmental projects once they have the resources to do so, Rossi said.
“That’s really important to both of us—helping Minnesota become a better state,” he said.
In particular, Schiller said they want to focus on habitat restoration.
As any business owner can attest, getting momentum is full of challenges.
Schiller and Rossi have turned to Indiegogo, an online fundraising platform that allows individuals or groups to offers dollars to kickstart their business.
The two say they will need $80,000-$100,000 to get everything rolling. Through Indiegogo, they're trying to raise $40,000 of that. So far, $7,500 has been donated with 39 days left on the campaign.
Not only does the platform allow them to raise funds by offering different perks for different levels of contributions (from first batches of the product to a musky fishing expedition), it affords them an opportunity to hear back from people who are interested in their products and mission.
“It’s an interesting way for people to engage with our brand,” Schiller said. “It’s more of an engaging approach, which works into our social media aspect.”
Long before the Indiegogo campaign launched, the two were developing a plan, meeting with people and receiving feedback via social media.
The two are also active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and have posted a couple entertaining and informative videos on YouTube.
“We’re kind of quirky guys,” Rossi said.
They're also looking for additional funding and are working with some investors.
The two 2005 NHS graduates, who both have day jobs, hope to eventually grow Loon Liquors into a full-time gig. Once they land a space in Northfield, they’ll begin distilling their products and focus on distribution.
Find Loon Liquors on the web:
Straight from the Loon:
LOON LIQUORS was started by two good high school friends Simeon Rossi (Chief Artisan), and Mark Schiller, (Chief Business Officer) who stumbled into their dream at a White Russian party
LOON LIQUORS' MISSION is to craft delicious, unique, organic liquors from ingredients and packaging sourced as local as possible while maintaining a positive impact on the environment
PLEDGES WILL GO TO: Purchasing equipment, obtaining distilled spirits plant license, and everything else to launch Loonshine
IF 200% FUNDED we will not need further funding and we will be on the shelves much faster. Therefore, if we are over 100%, please continue to contribute and make our daily dream become reality
A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT will be achieved by recycling, composting, or selling every material brought into the distillery. In other words, a trash can will not be needed. We're looking for strong environmental conservation partners wherever we do business
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP: Not everyone has money to contribute, but if you would like to be a part - please spread the word how ever you can!