So I Think I Owe You An Explanation . . .

December 18th, 2014 - filed under: Furthermore » Inspiration

Still Elevate Your Ethanol

Photo by Clovis IV Photography.

OMG where the heck have I been??! Bad blogger! It’s true, I suck, BUT I blame love, and you can’t get mad at me for that, right?

Love. Love is a tricky mistress. But I digress. Let me tell you a story.

Jeremy and I met each other when we were both desperately lost. It’s true! Like a couple of cocked slingshots we were, both of us bursting with potential, ready to let fly if only we could find a direction worth flying towards. And together, with the help of one another, that’s what we’ve done.

I came first, though we’ve both been working on both of us from the very start. But primary and most pressing was sorting out my life, and getting me into graduate school. And I wouldn’t have done it – I literally would not be where I am today – without Jeremy’s encouragement and support. Every step of the way. I would not be in grad school, and I would not be able to stay in grad school, if it weren’t for Jeremy.

So once that was sorted out, our attention turned to him. From the earliest moments of our relationship – I mean just weeks in – we’d been doing these midnight brainstorming sessions. Sitting on the floor together, with a giant pad of paper, and all these colored pens, making lists. What do you want for your life? What are your dreams? Your secret desires? We were both so unhappy where we were and knew that we wanted to get somewhere else, but weren’t sure where to go or even how to start. And together we would figure it out. On giant pads of paper scrawled in a rainbow of color, spread out on the apartment floor in the middle of the night, we would whittle it down until we had a crystalline vision. And we were ready to fire.

action plan

That giant pad of paper. The very beginning.

Jeremy’s business is booze. Fine wine and spirits, to be exact. And he had been working in a position for the past eight years, which he absolutely hated. He loves the industry – loves the craftsmanship, the artistry and the culture surrounding wine and spirits. But his job – that particular job – was soul-crushing.

He dreamed of opening up a shop of his own, something unlike anything he’d seen before. A retail space completely devoted to the art of cocktail craftsmanship. A space for everyone to enjoy, from the amateur home mixer to the professional mixologist. He could see it so clearly!

So many pads of paper, and so many colored pens. So many nights spread out on the floor, thinking and dreaming. Frustration. Fear. The job he had was bad, but man – it paid well. And leaving all that behind? Is fucking scary.

beach walk

^^ That picture means so much to me. It was taken on the day that was our turning point. On a very, very long walk. On the beach. Hours spent walking up and down the beach, me and him, just talking. We were at a breaking point. Not a break up point, but we needed to have a serious conversation about our lives, and what we wanted. And in that conversation it became very clear: Jeremy had to quit his job, no matter what.


And it was literally less than one week later that we were walking down the street just a few blocks from our house, right in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, and we passed a little corner shop with bars on the windows. And men were loading up a moving truck.

So we asked one of them – “What happened here?” And he told us, “This is my family’s building, and this was my grandmother’s shop. But it hasn’t been open for almost 10 years, and now we’re taking everything out.”

And so we asked.

“Will you be renting it out?”


And how much?”


And after a pause he raised an eyebrow and asked, “So . . . are you interested?” And Jeremy and I just looked at each other. And we didn’t say anything at all.

Three days later Jeremy signed the lease. The next day, he quit his job. And one week later he was off.



Well, that was 6 weeks ago, at the tail end of October. As soon as Jeremy’s job let him go, he was at that shop, working. Every day. Dawn to . . . well, way past dusk. 16 hour days. 18 hour days. The place was a wreck, I mean really a wreck. And he put SO MUCH work into it.

Our goal was to open for Black Friday, which gave us a little over 4 weeks to get the place whipped into shape. Completely overhauled, renovated, new flooring, new lighting, everything. Of course we also had to order inventory, we had to establish accounts, we had to get our licensing and all that awful paperwork. I had to become an expert in vintage glassware (not gonna lie, I watched all 6 seasons of Mad Men as research), and start professionally picking (I’m the official VP of vintage, which has turned out to be our biggest seller!). And all of this, mind you, while I’m still in graduate school, still taking a full load and teaching 4 times a week. Still a mom. Still all that other life stuff.

No illusions, this is 100% a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, do-what-it-takes-to-make-it-work operation, all the way. Which is . . . exciting!

And here we are 6 weeks later. And wouldn’t you know it, but we own a shop! And it’s even open!

And I know you want pictures of the whole process, yes? So without further ado, the transformation of Still:

Still before

Pretty early on – maybe day 2? The place was freakin’ filthy. Here, he’d already taken down the garden lattice (yes, actual garden lattice) that was covering the mezzanine.

Still before pics
There’s some of that lattice . . .

Still before tile
Industrial carpet, commercial grey and green tiles. Both from the ’80s.

Still renovation process

Still renovation
A break for green juice and shelling peanuts.

Still remodeling mayhemStill remodeling mayhem 4Still remodeling mayhem 5Still remodeling mayhem 3

Late late night delirium . . .

Still reno hardware store
And many, many trips to the hardware store. So much so that they know Waits by sight, and call him “Trouble”, and save the Transformer stickers especially for him. He’s such a little charmer, that one.

Still before kid helper

Still renovation picnics
And we had countless picnics on the workspace floor, when Jeremy just couldn’t spare the time to come home for dinner. Waits and I would pack up a warm meal and bring it over to him, eating on an old blanket amidst the construction mess and power tools.

Still renovation painting

Still before pics painting

Still Floor beforebefore Still Floor

Floor before . . .

Still floor after
And after!

Still barStill bar 2

Jeremy built the register counter from reclaimed materials, and entirely from scratch. Because he is actually AMAZING.

Still before stocking
Getting closer. Inventory! (And on the left you can see the display unit that Jeremy built: “floating” wine boxes set at an angle, to hold bar spoons, strainers, jiggers, etc. Ugh, my man is good.)

Still renovation late nights
T – 2 days till opening. We had to work late into the night, that night, so we set Waits up with a little nest in the loft. Blankies, movies on the iPad, pizza delivery, and a whole carton of oat milk all to himself. He was seriously such a good sport through this whole thing!


And then, just like that, Thanksgiving had come and gone, and Black Friday had arrived. And it was all happening. WE WERE OPEN!!!

Still finished

Still Jeremy

Still bitters bar

Still final amazing

Photos by Clovis IV Photography.


It’s really hard to believe that this is all real. It happened so fast that we’ve hardly had time to stop and think. Overwhelming? Yes!

Exhibit A: the pic we took at the end of opening day:

omg Still opened

And that about sums it up.

So please, wish us luck! This is truly Jeremy’s dream, manifested. And I am just so incredibly proud of him.

We have a website as well! Okay, so it’s just something we threw together ourselves (for now), and we’ll have something more exciting in the future (any designers out there??). But you can shop all our products, and learn what we’re about – so please check it out!

And with all that, I can now bid you adieu. I do hope to be back to some sort of semblance of regularly scheduled posting, but who the heck knows? Between a spirited 4 year old, graduate school, and a brand new business to build . . . well guys, I promise I will do my very best.

I love you guys! Happy Holidays!!

♥ ♥ ♥

  • Amanda

    Thanks. Your comment helped me decide to write–and, of course, drink–about it:

    Happy (late) solstice!

  • saniel

    Congrats, it would be great to hear the whole process J had to get through to get shop up and running. Loans (if he had to get any and how much), contractors( he couldn’t have done plumbing, electrical etc), design and so on. Thanks

  • Chantel

    Well, y’all are just too damn inspiring! I think I need to go buy some big paper (and wine) so me and hubs can figure our life out! what a fantastic idea and your shop looks great!

  • Pingback: Happy New Year, Let’s Do The Splits! | Bonzai Aphrodite

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you so much Chantel! And yes, get yourself some big paper – it is magic!! ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Rachel! And the bitters bar has been a big hit. So fun!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you so much Lysette!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Kate!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aw, thank you Deirdre! ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Tara, and good luck with your own late-night brainstorming. That’s where the magic happens!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Jenna!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Cara!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Ginny, and we would LOVE to see you if you’re ever down this way. The bitters bar is super fun. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aw, thanks lady!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Caitlin! And I’m working on my master’s degree. One year left!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you so much Natalia! Thanks for commenting and moreso, for reading along even when you don’t comment. I love knowing a bit more about the people out there reading this blog, so thank YOU for saying hi. =)

    And yay for little vegan boys! Happy New Year to you and your family!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks lady! Hope all is well with you!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Rebecca, and thanks for the offer! Will definitely check out your stuff when we’re ready to move forward.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Charley! ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Becca!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Sonja!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Sandra!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yay, thank you!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, thanks Jenn!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yay, looking forward to seeing you. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Kristin!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Elizabeth! And man the bitters bar is awesome. I’ve definitely spent my fair share of time there. ;-)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks so much Carrie, it’s nice to hear from you. Would love to see you if you’re ever down this way. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you, and aww it’s awesome to hear from such a long-time reader. Thanks for staying along for the ride! =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh no! No split, no way. ;-)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yes, get that big pad out and start dreaming! Seriously. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Lindsey, and good luck with your transitions this year. And keep the hope. It WILL work out. I know it.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Saniel, that would be a lot of private details, but I’ll think about it. Happy New Years!

  • saniel

    Not the details but ball park, some of us wanna be entrepreneurs and are interested in the quest it took to get there. Congrats on getting up and chasing the dream.