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922 South Morton Street
Bloomington, IN, 47403
United States

812-202-6789

Cardinal Spirits is a craft distillery in Bloomington, Indiana that specializes in producing extraordinary spirits from local ingredients.  

Let Go, and Trust People

Spirit Trail

Let Go, and Trust People

Adam Quirk

Starting this business, I had to learn everything pretty much from scratch. 

I had been interested in flavor and smell from an early age, writing recipes for things when I was 5 years old, working in restaurant kitchens all through high school and college. I knew how to make things taste good. As a dirt poor 20-something I would buy cheap vodka, filter it through a Brita pitcher, and infuse it with fruits and spices to make delicious concoctions. They made great party gifts. But I had no idea how to actually make the base spirit, the vodka or whiskey. So I read. Articles, books, forums. Anything I could get my hands on. 

Like most people doing something new, I made mistakes, and learned from them. But luckily, humans are one of the few species that can also learn from other peoples mistakes.

So after lots and lots of reading about distilling, I moved on to learning about starting a business, then raising money, then running a business, creating a corporate culture, and on and on. I read a lot. Watched a lot of TED talks. Went to a few conferences. 

In retrospect it might have been too much. I'm sure you guys know that too much information can cause a kind of addiction. Checking Facebook, reading articles on Medium, watching TED talks, it's all kind of a temporary high when you are taking it in, but at some point you have to put all that shit down and go do something with that information. 

So in May 2013 I left my job as a marketing director for a tech company called Cheddar, and started raising money for the distillery. By that September my business partner and I had raised $850,000 and secured loans from German American for another $700,000 to purchase equipment. So that was crazy, and scary, and exciting. 

Next steps were to start renovating our building, and for me to start creating our brand identity and labels. That was an amazing process, and what I really want to share here is that outside perspectives are incredibly important for design. I think a lot of designers tend to focus on their own perspective, like an artist. That is definitely valuable. But design is not only art. It is a process. Designing in a vacuum is like looking at an object with one eye closed. You need multiple perspectives to see the true dimensions of anything.

So I met this guy Ryan Irvin, a local designer. He just so happens to be insanely talented, thoughtful, and at the time he was relatively inexpensive. Still is, when you consider the talent level. Ryan helped build the Cardinal Spirits brand identity with me, and there is no way it would look as good as it does without him. We developed the visual system for the labels, the typography, and colors.

For me, this was a big learning moment. For most of my career I had worked alone. This taught me that I could and should trust other people to handle big important pieces of work. Trust people to do a good job, and they will usually do it.

I want to tell you one of my favorite stories about trust. It's from a book called This I Believe, which is a collection of essays from people all over the country about their personal beliefs. It ranges from famous politicians to pizza delivery guys, and they are all excellent.

Anyway, this is from that book.

“One night recently, I was driving down a two-lane highway at about sixty miles an hour. A car approached from the opposite direction at about the same speed. As we passed each other, I caught the other driver’s eye for only a second.

I wondered if he might be thinking, as I was, how dependent we were on each other at that moment. I was relying on him, not to fall asleep, not to be distracted by a cell phone conversation, not to cross over into my lane and bring my life suddenly to an end. And though we had never spoken a word to one another, he relied on me in the same way.

Multiplied a million times over, I think this is how the world works.

In my own life, I’ve put great stock in personal responsibility. But as the years have passed, I’ve also come to believe that there are moments when one must rely on the good faith and judgment of others. So while each of us faces - at one time or another - the prospect of driving alone down a dar road, what we must learn with experience is that the approaching light may not be a threat, but a shared moment of trust.”
— Warren Christopher, This I Believe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trust People - if you're taking notes, that should be a bullet point.

I want to tell you one of my favorite stories about trust. It's from a book called This I Believe, which is a collection of essays from people all over the country about their personal beliefs. It ranges from famous politicians to pizza delivery guys, and they are all excellent.

Anyway, this is from that book.

One night recently, I was driving down a two-lane highway at about sixty miles an hour. A car approached from the opposite direction at about the same speed. As we passed each other, I caught the other driver's eye for only a second.

I wondered if he might be thinking, as I was, how dependent we were on each other at that moment. I was relying on him, not to fall asleep, not to be distracted by a cell phone conversation, not to cross over into my lane and bring my life suddenly to an end. And though we had never spoken a word to one another, he relied on me in the same way."

Multiplied a million times over, I think this is how the world works.

In my own life, I've put great stock in personal responsibility. But as the years have passed, I've also come to believe that there are moments when one must rely on the good faith and judgment of others. So while each of us faces - at one time or another - the prospect of driving alone down a dar road, what we must learn with experience is that the approaching light may not be a threat, but a shared moment of trust.