After a long afternoon of editing, writing, and creating the beauty that is The Everygirl and Everymom, our staff decided to have a drink. Now, it wasn’t quite 5pm yet, so we needed something that would motivate us to continue our workday but help us let loose just a little bit to celebrate our wins of the day. We went for PRESS hard seltzer — and boy was I hooked.
I fell in love with the seltzers immediately (they taste good, and the flavors are so nice — they almost taste like a cocktail!), so when I found out we were interviewing the founder, Amy Walberg, I did a mini happy dance. I definitely got in on the hard seltzer craze the last few years, and I thought the company was so unique compared to others around. Not to mention, a hard seltzer brand owned by a single mom-of-two? I’ll take a 12-pack, thank you very much.
Through our interview with Amy, we found out why she started her company, how it stands apart from others on the market, and how being a mom has helped her develop her entrepreneurial spirit. Oh, and her mom hacks are out of this world too — you’ll want to try them ASAP!
Name: Amy Walberg, Founder of PRESS Premium Alcohol Seltzer
City/State: Milwaukee, WI
Education: University of Wisconsin – Madison
Children: Paige, 7, and Colin, 5
What was your first job and how did you land it?
My first job out of college was working for a small ad agency out of Milwaukee. Growing up, my parents always encouraged art and imagination. I don’t recall there being a fort I wanted to build or experiment I wanted to try that they put the brakes on. It was very much an atmosphere of, “You’ve got an idea? Sure, go for it!” I think that environment of trial-and-error and executing ideas is a big part of what made me an entrepreneur. It’s also something I try to foster with my children.
Have you always been interested in the food industry? What was your first exposure to it?
Beyond waitressing at Red Lobster? Not much. I took a handful of nutrition courses in college before I switched from a physical therapy major to advertising and later supported a couple of restaurant clients during my time with an ad agency, but nothing that could have prepared me for launching PRESS. I was green going into this. While my inexperience has cost me some expensive “lessons,” I think being an outsider has afforded me the ability to differentiate my business from others.
The inspiration for your company is very unique! Tell us a little about why you wanted to create PRESS and how the business organically evolved through its first stages.
I founded PRESS back in 2015 when my son, Colin, was just an infant and my daughter, Paige, was a young toddler. I was at a point in my life where I was newly single, caring for two small children, and trying to juggle a career in corporate advertising. I needed to re-invent myself and have a career on my own terms. I’ve always been an avid seltzer fan and noticed there weren’t any premium alcohol seltzers on the market — so I decided to make it.
In between working my full-time corporate job and my other full-time job as a single parent, I spent late nights turning my kitchen into a mixology lab and combining different fruits and spices to test flavor profiles. Pomegranate Ginger was actually the first flavor I developed in one of those late-night sessions. A friend of a friend connected me with a beverage manufacturer to make it all come to life, and in no time, it felt like I was leaving my corporate job behind and diving headfirst into bringing PRESS to market!
As soon as I had the idea for my brand, it became my mission to get this product into people’s hands. I noticed women were very underserved in the alcohol industry. I think there’s a stigma with moms drinking, and I wanted to challenge that. PRESS is a premium product from the flavor profiles to the ingredients to the sophisticated packaging. There’s nothing taboo about enjoying responsibly, and this beverage isn’t designed to be hidden.
The first years were tough because hard soda went bust, and we had to push through to show them how we’re different. We did a lot of grassroots tastings to get the consumer to sample, which continues to be a tactic that really drives our business. When people try our product, they get it. I love hearing from people who’ve tried it for the first time and say they’re never going back to the other seltzer brands. I wanted to create an elevated alcohol seltzer experience, and that validation is so personal and rewarding.
Not only are you an entrepreneur, you are also a hard-working single mom — tell us about how your company was created with busy moms in mind.
I basically created this product for myself, so by nature, this product is for busy moms!
When I dreamed up PRESS, I wanted something that, first and foremost, tasted great. We use all-natural ingredients, so the true essence of the fruits and spices peek through the crisp seltzer bubbles. It’s not fussy in terms of worrying about how it will pair with whatever you’re eating for dinner. I also wanted to create a drink with a lower alcohol by volume (ABV). I love to have a drink or two with my girlfriends, but as a single parent, I need to be able to jump back into mom mode at a moment’s notice. And I also wanted our beverage to look great. The can is simple, sophisticated, and you can just as easily serve it at a dinner party as a BBQ.
What challenges did you face while launching your business in this tough industry?
When I first started pitching our brand to distributors and retailers, I was met with a lot of closed doors. The alcohol industry is still a boys’ club in many regards, and I was told they just didn’t see a market for a low ABV beverage geared toward women.
Fast forward a couple of years, and today, the alcohol seltzer category is seeing explosive growth, and both men and women are enjoying alcohol in different ways than in the past. In less than four years’ time, PRESS now leads the category as the #1 independent brand and remains one of the few (if not only) woman-owned brands.
What is next for you and your company?
This past summer, we released our first limited-edition flavor, Pear Chamomile, and we’re introducing Apple Cinnamon under limited edition this fall. Imagine a cider without all the heavy sweet; we can’t wait for everyone to try it!
In Chicagoland, we’re entering [grocery store] Mariano’s locations this fall and secured shelf space across all Binny’s Beverage Depot locations in August. We also continue to increase our presence in Target and Whole Foods (among others) nationwide, so it’s our hope that soon it will be as easy to find PRESS as it is to find our corporate-owned competitive brands.
What advice would you give to other moms out there who have a unique business idea but have been discouraged in some way from following their ambition?
Don’t give up. If you believe in it, make it happen! There will always be naysayers, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it doesn’t matter what others think. You don’t need anyone’s approval to follow your dreams. But more importantly, it’s not just about having a great idea, it’s about the follow-through.
When the kids were little, I used to bring them along on business trips with me; we called them “work-cations.” I was that mom schlepping through the airport with two kids, a baby carrier, and a million bags. I still try to bring them along when their school schedules allow. We’ve had the opportunity to create really special memories on this journey together. Once we went to Florida for work, and I told them the trip to Disney was their salary! They’re such good travelers and super adaptable. Kids are adaptable and reminding myself of that has gotten me through this.
How has motherhood influenced you as an entrepreneur?
I love this question! I wouldn’t be doing any of this without them. Honestly, I don’t think I would have even given it a shot. It’s the love I have for these little people that has given me the deep desire to not only provide for them but be my best self. It would have been easy to give up along the way — and believe me, there are times I wanted to throw my hands up and walk away — but I didn’t because of them.
I’ve always been passionate and had a desire to create, but without my kids, I don’t think I would have the relentless drive it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. They give me supermom powers.
Being a mom also helps me put this season of entrepreneurship into perspective. It’s like I’ve got three kids, and PRESS is my needy newborn. The company has me pulling all-nighters and still waking up at 6am to get everyone to school and myself off to work. I know this season will pass, and my needy newborn will figuratively start sleeping through the night, but right now, I’m trying my best to keep us all moving forward and show gratitude for this exhausting and exhilarating time.
Can you walk us through your typical daily routine?
My days and nights all blend together, but I typically wake up at 6am and roll over to check emails. By 6:30am, my kids are awake, and we head down to the kitchen to make breakfast, which is usually pancakes or breakfast burritos and fresh fruit. The morning is our quality time as a family, so I don’t schedule meetings before 9am, and I make it a point to keep our before-school routine as calm as possible. Over breakfast, we talk about what acts of kindness we’re going to do for the day and share what we like about each other — a silly little tradition I started to remind the kids not to take each other for granted.
At 8:30am, the kids catch the bus, but due to my prioritization of a zen morning over a scheduled morning, sometimes we miss the bus. Once the kids are gone, I pick up the morning mess and get set for the day. As a household of one, I try to stay on top of things before I dive into work or it quickly spirals out of control.
My workday starts at 9am, and it’s full speed ahead with conference calls, meetings, and endless emails until the kids get home. At 4pm, I shut down my computer for the evening and greet the kids off the bus. I try hard to not be on the phone and give them my full attention as we prep dinner and talk about our days. I share things about my day with them too. Giving them insight into what I’m working on offers good teaching moments, but also helps them understand what it is that I’m working so hard on.
I’m not one to be run by the clock, so dinner is usually on the table anywhere between 5:30 and 7pm. After dinner, we clean up the kitchen together, and the kids get baths. There’s usually a little screen time peppered in there, so I can take a quick look at anything needed at the moment for work. I’m a bit of a nerd, so as the night is winding down, we do a word of the day and family research projects, like a future vacation or even something I might be working on for the business.
At 8:30pm, we read a story, and the kids go to sleep and from 9pm to midnight; I go back to work! This is my time to really knock stuff out. It sounds crazy, but this is actually a really enjoyable time for me. It’s totally uninterrupted, and this is when I have ideas, I get to create and be alone in my thoughts.
Side Note: each week, I also schedule a massage for myself. It’s the one thing I do for myself. I pre-pay, so I can’t skip it, and it forces me to stop for at least an hour — no momming, no working.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a mom for you? And what’s been the most challenging?
The smiles on their faces. The unconditional love. I think all moms can agree: being their mom has made me the best version of me. Being a single mom and struggling to make it all work has certainly been difficult, but it has prepared me to run a business. I’ve learned to prioritize and be flexible and open.
What has been the best part of being a successful business owner as well as a great mom?
Showing them a different way to be a mom. My kids see me mowing the lawn, running a business, and for better-or-worse, they think I can do it all. I hope they learn to go after what they want.
Can you share with us five mom hacks you rely on to make things work in your day-to-day life?
1. Outsource! I outsource whatever I can, and I’m so grateful to have the ability to do that. I used to feel like I should be doing it all, but I’ve recognized that I’m just one person, and I can’t. Letting that guilt go is so freeing. I order groceries and everything else online, I have help cleaning and with the lawn, and in a pinch, I’ll send out the laundry. I would rather dedicate my free time to my kids, so instead of hiring a babysitter so I can clean out neglected closets, I’ll spend the money on a professional organizer and go to the park.
2. Get a pet. It sounds counterproductive, but having an animal buys me time. If I need 10 minutes to take a call, I can tell the kids to go brush the cat, and it teaches responsibility too!
3. Pack school bags the night before. Saving it all for the last minute drives chaos, and starting the morning off with a clear mind is important in our house.
4. Make creative play a habit. I encourage creativity wherever we are, and that skill has made them so adaptable. They can make anything into a game. Sometimes that might look like finding clovers at the park so I can take a call, but they’re having fun and not always waiting on me to create fun for them.
5. Ask kids their opinions. I bring them in on the business by sharing what I’m working on and asking for their ideas — which they love. Including them seems to have made them more understanding or forgiving when I need to work harder. We’re in this together, and I want them to feel apart of it.
Amy Walberg is The Everymom…
Favorite mommy blog? Mother Untitled. It’s elegant and real.
Guilty pleasure children’s’ book that you secretly love? Maze books. I’m creative, and I hope to pass that along to my kids. We do these problem-solving books together, but I think I enjoy them as much as they do!
Brunch or happy hour? Happy hour!
Last book you binge-read? The Power of Moments. My nightstand is like a clear window into my psyche… I’ve got business books like David and Goliath and Conscious Leadership and then parenting books like How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Mindfulness for Children.
Where is the next place you’d love to go on vacation? I love traveling. Take me anywhere! But I would love to go to Greece with the kids. That’s one of the places we’ve been researching.
Most embarrassing mom moment? It’s hard to get through a day without an embarrassing mom moment. The other day, I looked everywhere for a brush to comb Paige’s hair and couldn’t find one anywhere, so I ended up using a fork. No one saw it, but now you all know. Also, at camp this summer, they asked the kids what their parents drink each morning. I assume the answers were supposed to be coffee or orange juice. My kids said their mom drinks PRESS. The truth is that I do drink seltzer water every morning, but it certainly does not contain alcohol. Obviously, my kids don’t know the difference.