Born in Minnesota, but raised in Colorado, A.J. Fazendin, Owner and Founder of Prescribed Spirits, moved to Miami in 2014 for a “change of scenery”. Fazendin’s journey and willingness to step into the unknown and embrace change are hallmark qualities of most entrepreneurs. As his story demonstrates, change can often lead to incredible opportunities.
“Before moving to Miami, I worked as a chef in Colorado,” Fazendin said. “That’s also where my interest in distilling first started. I visited several distilleries and started doing my own research. When I moved, I continued in food and beverage, which gave me a lot of free time in the mornings. That’s when I started looking for a distillery to volunteer at to gain some experience.”
While Fazendin wasn’t able to find a local distillery, he did start volunteering at Wyndwood Brewing. From there, he discovered South Florida Distillers – a serendipitous discovery that ultimately led to the launch of Prescribed Spirits.
“Rather than volunteering there, I basically went in and asked if I could use their license and equipment to make my own spirits,” he said. “In addition to distilling their own spirits, they do contract manufacturing. This was a way for me to get started without the major capital investments.”
Fazendin officially launched his business in the summer of 2015. He chose to start with Gin because of certain liquor laws and the fact that Gin allows for some creativity.
“With Gin, you start with a pure neutral spirit and then you add juniper and other botanicals,” he said. “It’s a blank canvas. From the standpoint of a chef, I was attracted to the creative aspect of it.”
Within six months of launching, Fazendin’s American Gin was ready for distribution. He partnered with a small distributor, which allowed him to bring his product to market. As Fazendin shared, it’s been a challenging process, but one he thoroughly enjoys.
“I’m doing all the work myself,” he said. “From making the Gin, to bottling it and selling it. Sales is definitely the hardest part. It’s not easy for a small brand like mine to compete with the more well-established brands. Fortunately I got in with a larger distributor and we’re now in Total Wine and ABC stores throughout Florida. We’re also available in Colorado and Texas.”
Fazendin continued, “It’s a cool process being able to come up with a product I stand behind, to build out the brand and to penetrate such a strong market. There’s also the creative side of it that I really enjoy.”
Fazendin is focused on growing his business through door-to-door sales, tastings and events. His short term goals include expanding his Gin up the east coast through partnerships with new distributors and hiring full-time sales representatives in Colorado and Texas. Eventually he’d like to have his own distillery and perhaps incorporate his culinary roots to offer food options and pairings.
What advice does Fazendin have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Go for it,” he said. “If you have the ability, a vision, a way to make it happen and you can live off your idea, then you have to go for it. The hardest part is taking the leap. For most people, the best thing they did was quit their job to pursue their own business.”