Sometimes I wish Lisa had permanent residency in my home. On those challenging days when nothing seems to be going right, I would take solace in the fact that Lisa would have a mean cocktail waiting for me as soon as the clock turned happy hour. This girl knows how to whip up a strong drink and not just one...but an entire collection of craft cocktails!
Watching Lisa at work is like watching a mad scientist in a lab. Her beverage programs are layered, artistic and chalk full of subtle herbs and garnishes. She's curated beverage programs for some of Chicago's most popular destinations. And you can see her enthusiasm for a good cocktail creation when she talks. It's enough for me to want to rush home and try my hand at it as well...only my results are frequently subpar. This is an art, my friends.
Today is a fun one! Meet my friend, Lisa and if you don't believe me...go visit my favorite watering hole, Whiskey Thief Tavern, and order up one of her infamous cocktails. It'll be love at first sip. <my favorite is the Liquid Sunshine>
Tell us a little about your brand and its mission. How did you develop the idea further?
My “brand” is really just me. I started freelancing for liquor brands, re concepted the bar program at Ritz Carlton, Developed Soho House’s opening beverage program and currently am further developing Whiskey Thief in Evanston’s restaurant Identity. I love all the aspects of the restaurant and hotel industry so I focus on making a cohesive brand with a banging beverage program.
1. What was the moment you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur let alone in the spirits industry?
I was pretty lucky figuring out in college, while getting my Art History degree, that spirits was truly was where my passion was. It’s the perfect balance of analytical and creative for me. Spreadsheets and booze yes please! As far as being an entrepreneur I never really wanted to take the full leap until Femme du Coupe was looking for a co-founder in 2014.
2. What was the most difficult moment in launching your brand? How did you get through it?
I think raising money is the most difficult. You have to pitch your brand to as many people that will let you and have the majority of them not see what you see to invest.
3. How would you describe a typical day? What's your morning to evening routine?
Well we just had a baby! So our routine is no routine at the moment. Before Wes I would wake up, go to the gym for an uninterrupted hour of no phone, make lunch and then write down everything that I needed to do and get to work. I like to be efficient and making lists helps figure out the best way to get it all done quickly, and not forget when you are juggling what can feel like a million things.
4. What’s one thing you learned about yourself in becoming an entrepreneur?
I’ve learned that I always need to do everything now. When I get a few “free” minutes I tell myself to just get everything done now so I won’t have to do when I’m tired or have to rush through it and it helps me to be less stressed out. It’s so easy to push it off since you make your deadlines.
5. What individuals, tastemakers, celebrities, entrepreneurs, public figures inspire you
Professionally I had a lot of wonderful mentors while I worked for the Four Seasons. They had a knack for hiring the right people who genuinely wanted to enhance each customer's experience and taught me the true mean of hospitality.
Personally Ellen Degeneres. Although I have never meet her she has this personality that is positively infectious. She is always thinking of ways to better other people’s lives and light heartedly calls attention to all the worldly issues going on to raise awareness. She just seems like a rad lady trying to make as many positive impacts that she possibly can.
6. If you weren't in the spirits industry...and could be anything else...what would it be?
Ooooh… Well I love adrenaline so a pilot or an architect since I think it is fascinating how architecture is appropriated and is still relevant in modern day society and how we live on a day to day basis.
7. What's on your Spotify?
Hamilton Musical, Paolo Nutini & Orit Redding, Glass Animals, Kygo, George Ezra, Usher, Beyonce, Fetty Wap, Steve Miller Band, Michael Buble
8. What’s your vice? Everyone has one...wine, chocolate, This is Us?
During a period when I gave up sugar and alcohol I almost caved from a Big Star Horchata rice crispy treat. I licked it and threw it away. Self control is better late then never!
9. Wine or classic cocktail?
Why choose when I don’t have to ;) It depends on what I’m eating and who I’m eating with. I can always go for bubbles but right now I’m craving a daiquiri from the match box.
10. What’s the best career advice you ever received?
Always lead with integrity. Your reputation is all you have so always be the best version of yourself and be kind.
11. 5 must-have apps that you need in your life to function?
MyFitnessPal, Scannable, Spothero, Whatsapp, Facebook
12. Bonus question - What's next for Lisa Selman OR do you have something new in the works?
We are opening another Whiskey Thief in Rosemont in the next year or so thats pretty exciting and I’m enjoying and figuring out how to be a mom to a pretty cute little boy but I’m always making moves so watch out!
Follow Lisa on Instagram!