Everyone goes through transitions in life where you struggle to find a new niche, a place to belong. Everything from moving across the country, to getting a new job will bring on changes in life. When I graduated from Colorado State University in 2010 I faced such a transition. I had thought of myself, and was seen by others, as a student for decades. I was highly involved on campus and proudly wore my Ram Pride during my years on campus. When I left, it was the first time in my adult life where it was truly up to me to pick my path. Sure, I choose my college and my major, but with it came a huge list of required classes. There are no requirements, standards or guidelines available for the real world.
As my friends moved away for jobs and grad school, and others returned back to campus I floated around wondering just what I wanted to do. I already had a successful nanny agency, but is that what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? The answer didn’t come for me overnight, but over a series of months. There was however a point in time where things began to fall into place. I was hired by the Jones family, owners of Pateros Creek Brewing Co, as a full time nanny. Their brewery was about to open, and I was welcomed with open arms into their family. As the months went on, I began taking on bigger roles with the Jones family, working one day a week in the taproom and helping with special events. I also became more involved in the beer community as a whole, attending events regularly and being a founding member of Beer Bettys. The beer community, as well, welcomed me with open arms.
I had found it. My niche. A place I felt welcomed, a place I felt I belonged. A place full of amazing people that have so much to offer to the world, and not just in a sudsy beverage. My focus began to shift. I let my nanny agency go, began this blog and contracted myself out for marketing and events related to beer. I could not have been more happy or more grateful with the new path I was taking. My new niche supported me. They donated beer for events and hired me to organize and implement them. That is what the brewing community does, they support each other. The level of collaboration and camaraderie in this industry is not replicated by any other. From collaboration beers to beer fests, we take the “all boats rise together” economic theory to a new level. We have tied all of our boats together and are throwing a huge party in the middle of Horsetooth Resevoir. It is not a bad industry to be in.
Unfortunately, this weekend I learned not all things that rise will support others. Last Tuesday evening I received several phone calls and text messages from my fellow Beer Bettys members, expressing concern over “changes” happening to the Beer Bettys group. Changes I am still unsure of the details on and will not be discussing. I choose to post about it on my Facebook page as an effort to gain more information from Bettys who attended that evening (I did not attend the meeting that night). I also (probably wrongly) chose that as a time to announce a new series of workshops that I have been developing over the last six months with other members of the Beer Bettys and beer community that we are titling “Drink Like a Girl”.
In response to this, I received an email from Kevin Bolin, owner of The Mayor of Old Town which hosts the weekly Beer Betty meetings, to stop attending. According to Kevin, it was clear to him that my only intentions are to poach Bettys for members and ideas and gossip on my blog (you can see the email below). As a founding member, I was hurt. In fact, I even cried. His words were harsh and his views unfounded. If Kevin, or bar manager and facilitator of Beer Bettys Michelle, had made an effort to talk to me or respond to an email once in the last six months they would have known my intentions. Instead, they saw me as a threat to their business, and kicked me out. I didn’t expect them to welcome my competition with open arms, I anticipated a strain on our relationship. Not this.
I just want to make it clear to my readers that it was not my intention to “poach” anything from the Bettys. In fact, it was the Bettys themselves who asked me if I would host women-centered events in addition to my regular events after months of no regularly scheduled classes at The Mayor. At the time, I was contracted with The Mayor to help with Beer Bettys, and I pitched the idea to them first. They were not interested in having me help organize the group, despite having hosted a sell out event during Bettys in April. But other people were, and I wasn’t going to let this idea go just because one person didn’t bite. During development we decided to make this a series of workshops, not a group or club. In addition we intended to never host events on Tuesdays. Both decisions were out of respect of The Mayor and Beer Bettys. We didn’t want women to have to choose which event to attend, but give them the chance to attend both.
It is not my goal with this post to bash The Mayor, or encourage anyone to stop giving them business. It is simply to set facts straight. The “amicable story” The Mayor posted about my absence from Bettys, while respectful, is a lie, and was posted a day before I received the email asking me to leave. Maybe they thought I would get the picture? Being such a steady and active fixture in the Bettys I know I will receive tons of questions about my departure, especially from the Bettys. I will not lie to them, or anyone. These women have become my best friends, my support system, I will not perpetuate a lie to them to cover up the actions of someone else. I simply won’t, and am insulted that I was even asked to.
While the day began with an upsetting email it ended with more support than I have ever felt. Anyone who knows me didn’t buy the “amicable story” and sent me messages of concern and support. Several businesses and breweries reached out to me, offering space and beer for future events and more importantly, a hug and a shoulder to lean on. That is what this community is about and what makes it thrive. I will continue to support The Mayor. Being a short stumble from my front door I envision I will show up for a beer again in some future evening. I will continue to re-post their events on Facebook, or at least the ones I know about as they have blocked me from their pages. It is truly unfortunate that this situation had to come to a head like this, there we so many other avenues we could have taken to resolve it. But I do not regret or apologize for any of my actions. I do not not believe the reaction I received to my personal business decisions was in any way warranted, and I hope everyone learns from this to provide an even better community culture in the future.
Once a Betty, always a Betty.
Kevin’s email, in its entirety, as he requested.
The Mayor of Old Town