Author Stephania Roberts creates a gluten free vodka
Updated: Jan 30, 2019
Are you native Carolinian?
Almost! I am originally from California. My family was in the military and we moved to North Carolina over 20 years ago. I left the Carolinas for seven years while I lived in Colorado and have been back for four years now.
What’s your day job?
I am a credit repair specialist and business consultant; I help people start their businesses.
We understand you have an entrepreneurial side as well?
I love to think creatively and am very determined. In January of 2015, I founded Bou’Jae Vodka. When I had to go gluten free, I realized most vodkas contain gluten. While alcohol is not considered a health food, it can be made healthier. I wanted to create a product for people with allergies, autoimmune disorders, and who are suffering from inflammation. A lot of these ailments begin with what we are consuming.
Did you have to get financial backers?
I have never received a penny from an investor. I wanted to be self-funded from the start.
What was the startup process like?
The initial batch took 7-8 months to produce. Vodka is the quickest to age. So the process began in February of 2015 and the first bottle became available for sampling in the following August. Retail sales began this past February.
I consider myself to be an innovative person. I recognized that the alcohol industry makes a lot of money. I am also a health conscious person. I thought why not combine the two? I looked at what Bethenny Frankel did and thought I want to do that too. So I created a low calorie, straight spirit.
Is Bou’Jae organic?
I am in the process of getting our organic certification. Pesticides don’t belong in our food supply. It is made from organic corn right here in the United States; it is GMO and gluten free. You can read about our filtration and distillation process here. It’s pretty fascinating.
Where can we buy Bou’Jae?
Currently, it is sold in retail stores in Florida where it is made. You can special order Bou’Jae in NC, NJ, NY, and CA: the states where I have a liquor license. Consumers can buy the vodka online here. I am hoping to get licensing in every state by March 2017.
Is it difficult to have production in Florida?
Not at all. I travel to the facility and when I can’t, we hold meetings over Skype.
How has being a single mother impacted your business?
I am a mother to two kids ages five and six. Since I have been a single mother, I have a lot of empathy for other single moms. I want to grow my company so that I can employ single moms and still offer them the flexibility that a mother needs. There is freedom in entrepreneurship.
How many employees do you currently have?
I employ three moms.
How do you wind down from all of your day to day demands?
Vacations! I am part of a travel club, so I travel almost every month. In 2015, I went on 11 vacations; the kids came on five of them with me. Vacations definitely provide balance in my life.
Is staying fit important to you?
I walk/run three miles five mornings a week, so yes! When I reached 250 lbs, I realized I needed to adopt a healthier lifestyle. So I began eating well and exercising. I have now lost 70 lbs. I also love to do Zumba.
What inspired you to take on so much?
My kids! I came from a family that had limited resources. I want to be able to provide for them. I wasn’t able to finish high school, but I received my GED. I want to be a good role model for them.
What are your hopes for the future?
I want to create a brand that functions on its own, so I don’t have to work any other jobs. I want to get Bou’Jae to a place where it can support my family and support other families as well. I want my staff to enjoy the rewards too.
What would some people be surprised to learn about you?
I have self-published three books, one of which was a bestseller on Amazon: The Hustling Theory, How to Market Products on Instagram, and Nathan’s Daily Affirmations Save the Day.
My son wrote a book at age six, inspired from his experience with being bullied. Together we developed confidence through affirmations. I then encouraged him to speak at church about his experience and growth.
The Hustling Theory is all about going out and getting it done. It’s about my life. As a child, I sold my own possessions to make my own money. I have always said, “There is a way around everything.”
Any secrets to your success?
I would say I found the keys to life from reading The Law of Attraction.