Triple Bottom was born from a “wouldn’t it be amazing if…” kind of conversation over a steak dinner in South America. As all great ideas do, right?
Bill and I had just left Washington, DC, where we had been working in community and economic development for several years, and were very fortunate to be able to take a trip before beginning graduate school. (It may be worth noting here that Bill and I are married, so we hang out a lot.)
While in DC, we had become excited about craft breweries. We were not remotely nerdy about our beers, but we did really appreciate the experience of visiting a brewery. We liked learning about how beer was made while holding that beer in our hands. And we liked the sense of connection we felt with other people visiting the brewery, too. People come to breweries looking for a story, not just a drink, and in searching for that story they often turn to each other. At breweries, we felt a sense of community that we didn’t experience with strangers anywhere else.
And so, while in South America, we sought out a local brewery — and there, too, we found that strangers were eager to talk with each other about what had brought them there, where they were heading, what memories were jogged by the experience of being at this brewery. It was pretty special to find that — across continents — breweries were places of community and connection.
Our conversation over dinner a few days later took us back to that experience. “Wouldn’t a brewery be an incredible place to work?” “What if we opened our own?” But we also knew that we wouldn’t be satisfied working in a place that didn’t have an explicit social mission. We were both going back to grad school with the hopes we’d become better equipped to have a positive impact on the world. At that dinner table, we decided on the name “Triple Bottom Brewing Company” to represent the good we hoped to do through this business. We sketched out a jobs program to give people who have been excluded from the mainstream economy a chance to get back on their feet with dignity. And we decided that Philadelphia, my hometown, would be the perfect place to bring this idea to life.
For almost two years, Bill and I added more layers to our idea here and there. Bored in accounting, I would doodle a marketing strategy. In our kitchen, Billy set up a home-brewing kit. Not until I had the opportunity to pitch a social enterprise to my classmates did we decide to really see if we could do this. After lots of research and brainstorming, it became clear that craft breweries and inclusive community development really could — and should — go hand in hand. I’m really excited to share more on the blog about the progress we’ve made in connecting our craft brewery with community development — and the incredible organizations that are helping make that connection possible.