Creativity, Love and Caffeine: Meet The Gurus Behind Venice Cold Brew Coffee

By

We caught up with creative couple Kristina Mueller and Chris Mueller to discuss their newest venture: creating and branding the mega-popular iced coffee company, Venice Cold Brew.

After Kristina and Chris moved to Los Angeles, Chris saw an opportunity to embed themselves into their new city's culture.

During our interview, this art-director-and-photographer duo talked about combining their skill sets, balancing work and play and drinking their weight in coffee. For all of you Angelenos out there, Venice Cold Brew is available in a lot of cool stores from Venice to Downtown, and will help you survive LA's coming summer, aka its hottest yet.

As a side note, their Instagram is a slice of heaven.

How did Venice Cold Brew come about?

Chris: I've always wanted to start a business. I've always wanted to take an idea from start to finish and make it fly. When our family moved to Los Angeles, I quickly realized that the opportunity was now. It was a chance to dig in and become a part of the city we lived in, a chance to pour my drive, energy and excitement into something completely new. Coffee is something that I've always been crazy about and now I'm able to combine that with my love for design, photography and problem-solving into one tangible direction.

How did each of you apply your skill-sets to the project?

Kristina: Chris quickly began to develop a photographic voice for the brand through photos he was taking at the beach and on the streets of Venice. I was able to use my experience in branding and design to help develop a signature logotype to screenprint onto the front of the bottle. From there, along with the other assets we commissioned, I built the website as well as other elements for social media and print collateral.

What were some of the unexpected challenges of starting a coffee company and building its brand?

ChrisTime. Until you begin building a business from scratch, you really have no idea how long it takes to make the vision reality.

Relationships. What you realize is how valuable the relationships are that you already have in place and how hard it is to make new quality connections in seemingly endless categories.

Money. This has been big. There are so many hidden costs that you can never be prepared for -- permits, trademark attorneys, certified commercial kitchens, insurance, etc.

What about this whole adventure makes you the proudest?

Chris: Making it happen. I've always been driven by a challenge -- a direction without a roadmap. The thought that through a culmination of friends, life experience, passion, drive and sheer will, you can do anything. Past that, it's seeing the bottle on store shelves and knowing that someone will see the product; and based on its presence they are compelled to purchase it and enjoy it.

What are some top tips you can offer to freelance creatives thinking of starting their own company or brand?

Kristina: Ask for help. Lots of help. It really does take a village to create a brand. Without the help of so many different people with unique talents, the brand would not be nearly as dynamic as it is.

What's next for you, and Venice Cold Brew?

Chris: Growth. We have begun taking on larger customers like Whole Foods which is pushing us to create more product with an eye on service and sharpening the brand experience. This is going to require more people, [so] we plan to raise capital to bring on employees than can assist in manufacturing, sales, marketing and social media.

What came first, coupling up or work? Tell us the how-you-met story!

Kristina: Coupling up came first. It's embarrassing to say, but we met because we lived next door to each other. But I learned early on that Chris was a very talented photographer. That definitely piqued my interest.

Do you frequently collaborate on projects, or do you tend to keep working and not working separate?

Kristina: Our work is usually very separate, although many years ago I did hire Chris to shoot a magazine cover for me. We shot it in studio and I remember wanting to kill him. Working together on VCB has been a great meld to our sets of talent but there have been plenty of disagreements along the way -- mostly over the fact that Chris expects less than 24-hour turnaround times.

How many cups of coffee do you each drink a day?

Kristina: Chris probably drinks his weight in coffee everyday, partly because all his meetings are all done over coffee, and of course making sure the product is consistently tasting great. I drink less only because I like to sleep.

Find out how to get some of your own Venice Cold Brew by visiting their website. This interview was originally posted on Freerange, the Working Not Working blog.