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Feature Friday: Taylor Howard

Feature Friday: Taylor Howard

Hey there y’all and welcome back for another Feature Friday! I am super excited to share today’s feature with you. It’s about someone I have known my entire life. Sometimes they have bugged the shit out of me and other times they have provided me with the best support only a brother can provide. That’s right, today I am featuring my brother, Taylor Howard.

Like myself, Taylor was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. He will be 34 in a few days, but has accomplished more in his 34ish years than most will in a lifetime. He went to school at Western University from 2005 to 2009 and got a degree in electrical computer engineering. You might be thinking that he does amazing work with some sort of technology company… but you’d be wrong! He does do amazing work, but he got this degree mainly as a hobby.

This is because Taylor always knew he wanted to work for our dad’s company, T&K Utilities, which is construction. (Fun fact: T&K is named after Taylor and me :)) His university degree was an area of interest for him, but also a good back up plan in case he ever needed it. He started working for our dad right after college ended in 2009. If you were to ask Taylor his career, he would say construction. But don’t let that fool you; he wears many hats. Taylor has always been one, like the rest of our immediate family, to have many different interests. And again like the rest of our immediate family, he doesn’t just dabble with those interests on a small level. No, no, no. When Taylor has an idea he goes for it, and he goes for it hard!

 

Taylor and me

 

And this is what I want to share with you today. Taylor’s interests consist of go carts, dirt bikes, 3D printers, goats, dogs, guns and business. Taylor loves business. And not necessarily in the typical way one might think. He loves creating, problem solving, exploring and building things from the ground up. A prime example would be to share all of the businesses he has either started or is a major part of: Cultivated Cocktails, T&K Utilities, 50S, AVL and eventually a restaurant. So lets dive into each one a bit.

His title for T&K is vice president, and he does a lot of random things for the company. If it’s a specialty job where maybe a certain type of pipe is being used or if it’s a job that has electrical on it, then he’ll go out and fix it or problem solve for it. He’s kind of like the fixer and fills in the gaps with whatever is needed. This even includes meeting with the county or city to help get things approved. He’s even worked with people at the state level for certain tasks.

Then in 2012 he went on a bachelor party, and saw a really cool distillery where the distilling process was automated. This intrigued him given that he has such a technical background. Our cousin was also playing around and distilling some liquor on his own at this time. So they decided to go in together to make it legal and to make it big.

Seeing that Taylor and our cousin were both working 80 to 90 hours a week, they could only get together randomly on Sunday’s to distill something. It was a slow process just because they didn’t have much time. When it came down to them getting a building space in 2014, our cousin wanted to take a bit of a different route. So Taylor bought him out and began working on creating the distillery by himself.

 

Taylor and his wife, Leah

 

Eventually our dad saw how everything was running and how Taylor was taking on maybe a bit more than he could handle. This is when he decided to go in on the company with Taylor. And now they are both 50/50 owners of Cultivated Cocktails. Since T&K and the production facility of Cultivated Cocktails are located in the same building, Taylor is able to go back and forth between each job constantly. Some days he’ll do more with one company than the other, but in the end it balances out to where he is working both jobs pretty evenly. 

Currently Cultivated Cocktails spirits are being sold in liquor stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and California. Selling in California is huge because the state allows you to sell to 30 other states online. So if you were to live in one of these 30 other states, you could place an order from a California liquor store to be delivered directly to your house. Taylor has thought about going international at some point, and I hope Canada, and more specifically Calgary, is their first international destination. 😜

The distillery has expanded a lot since 2012. They started with their distilling location in Asheville, North Carolina right by the Fairview city line. Then they opened up a tasting room and retail lounge in downtown Asheville, but they quickly out grew this space. So they eventually moved down a few store fronts to a bigger space and are loving it. They opened this new space about a month ago, and I cannot WAIT to visit it when I am home!

The next venture he is taking with the distillery is to make vinegars and to open a restaurant. Apparently making vinegars from liquor is not all that hard… 🤷‍♀️ Taylor informed me that vinegar is created from alcohol. Yeast creates alcohol from sugar and acetobacter converts the alcohol into acetic acid, which is then the vinegar. What’s nice about making vinegar is that you can ferment and convert at the same time instead of doing it separately. So it’s a bit quicker of a process. They will be selling their vinegars on Amazon and in different grocery stores. The name to look out for is AVL – Asheville Vinegar Labs.

 

Taylor loaded down with camping gear

 

And as mentioned, Taylor is also going to open up a restaurant and bar in a building right beside their production facility. They will sell food and cocktails made with Cultivated Cocktails spirits. This is all so cool and inspiring to me. But I do have to share that me learning about their restaurant venture came up when I asked Taylor what he does to stay sane. Ha! Basically, he opens businesses and works a lot. But it’s how he thrives and he is so, so good at it. So props to him.

On a similar note to staying sane, I asked Taylor if he ever relaxes, and he could only mention if he falls asleep, either in the car or when watching a movie in theaters. He said it’s not a good sleep though because of the various bumps while riding in the car or loud noises, like bombs, going off during movies. I personally don’t think that sounds very relaxing, but I guess to each their own. Lol! He does have plans to get a bracelet that produces micro vibrations to help stimulate the brain in various ways. He hopes this will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety he feels. He mentioned that staying busy helps keep his stress and anxiety at bay, which is something I can totally relate too. It’s interesting how the things that cause you stress are sometimes the things that keep you calm, hey?

Now, before I move on this his ammunition company, 50S (pronounced five-oh-s), I want to mention one more thing about Cultivated Cocktails. And that’s sanitizer. When COVID hit, Taylor saw the need for hand sanitizer and had heard of a few other distilleries in North Carolina making some. So Taylor reached out to the government early on to figure out the logistics with taxes. He wanted to do it the right way and by the book. But since COVID was such a rampant virus, the government just told him to go for it and that they would figure out the logistics later. 

So they started making hand sanitizer and were just giving it away at first. Even if they wanted to sell it, they weren’t yet making enough to do so. Then they got a phone call from a guy who runs a nonprofit organization in western North Carolina who wanted Taylor to supply sanitizer to the entire western part of the state. So they ended up supplying close to 8,000 gallons of sanitizer to the western portion of the state.

 

Taylor’s son and my favorite little dude, Hawkins

 

Then he got a call from a friend he knew who worked with Amazon in Atlanta. They wanted a tanker’s worth of sanitizer, which Taylor didn’t have access too. Butttt the next thing he knew, Amazon Headquarters in Washington state called and said they would get him whatever he needed to be able to supply sanitizer to their employees in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina. So that’s what they did! Two big tankers rolled in with alcohol for Taylor’s distillery to then convert into sanitizer. And bada boom, bada bam! They were supplying a whole slew of people with sanitizer. That’s pretty bad ass if I do say so myself.

Now on to 50S. The same cousin I mentioned earlier sent Taylor some information about an ammunition machine, which Taylor found to be super cool. It was a big commercial home reloading and loading system. He decided he wanted to buy the machine and pursue his interest in making ammunition. Eventually he found a partner to go in with him on the business. They ordered the machine, their logo, and trademark and went to a training in Florida. Their goal is to buy a total of five machines, which will then allow them to make 175,000 rounds of ammunition a day. They will sell their ammo at the store they produce it in, at gun shows and to police officers and law enforcement. They still are waiting out the three month process it takes to get a federal license and they have to get their store front. But once all that is in place, they will be ready to produce and sell their product!

And to round things up, it would be a disservice to everyone reading this if I didn’t share a bit about Taylor’s family. He met and started dating his now wife, Leah, in April of 2007. They got married in September of 2012 and had their son, Hawkins, in July of 2014. Hawkins was born about two weeks after Keenan and I moved to Canada, and I’ve actually only been around him in person less than 10 times. But the bond I have with him is like nothing else. I know this post isn’t about me, but all I gotta say is thank god for smart phones and video chat! Also, I make it sound like Taylor is the only one running the show with all these companies. And don’t get me wrong, he does do a whole hell of a lot! But he’s only able to do all of this because of the support Leah provides him. So thank you for loving my brother so well, Leah. <3

I learned so much about Taylor when doing this interview. It was nice to be able to ask questions and just listen to him share a bit of his life with me. I admire how dedicated he is to always going after his dreams and working hard to make those dreams a reality. This is something that is so ingrained in our family, and I feel so fortunate to have a big brother to look up to in that way. But don’t let this post mislead you, I’m still the queen bee when it comes down to the two of us. I’ll beat Taylor’s ass in a second.😜 But really, thank you for letting me share your story, Taylor. And should I end with an I love you…? Cause I do. ❤

 

Me poking Taylor in the butt while he’s trying to sleep…or maybe relax. Hehe!

 

If you or anyone you know would be a great fit for this Feature Friday series either leave a note in the comments below or message me on Instagram. Thanks for reading about my big brother today, and as always happy day y’all!

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