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Inspiring Conversations with Jennifer Morales and Jason Stitt of Mixicles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Morales and Jason Stitt. 

Hi Jennifer and Jason, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Mixicles are an expression and extension of our friendship, cultivated over many years and many happy hours. We met in 2004 when we were both junior associates at the same Cincinnati law firm. I (Jen) practiced in the area of commercial litigation, while Jason specialized in corporate bankruptcy. We often say that we have seen all the ways in which things can go sideways in business. 

When I went to work at a different firm in 2015, we made a concerted effort to get together often – sometimes for lunch, but even more often for cocktails. We also made a point of trying out different bars and restaurants across the city. One day, we came across a fun drink that featured a flavored ice cube topped with bourbon. The concept was that, as the cube melted, the flavors would unfold and the taste and color of the cocktail would evolve. 

Our “lightbulb moment” for Mixicles happened in 2018, when I went over to Jason’s house one summer day to sample the watermelon margaritas he’d made from scratch for a block party. Jason kept the mix separate from the alcohol in case anyone wanted a mocktail, and I wondered aloud how it would taste if frozen in an ice-cube tray and added to tequila at another time. It turned out that, even weeks later, the margaritas tasted just as fresh and delicious as the day Jason had made the mix. 

And so, we started dreaming about creating a line of frozen mixers for the home consumer. At lunch one day, we brainstormed potential names for the product and flavor combinations, literally jotting them down on the back of a napkin. From there we divvied up the work of figuring out what we’d need to do to launch the business. We quickly determined that you cannot produce a frozen product in your home and sell it to the public and that we, therefore, needed to find a commercial space in which to make our cubes. As fate would have it, Findlay Kitchen, an incubator kitchen located in Cincinnati’s historical Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, not only had space we could lease by the month but also was offering a 12-week course on how to take one’s food or beverage concept and turn it into a business. We signed up right away and, by February 2019, obtained a frozen food manufacturing license so we could begin selling Mixicles. Three years (and many drinks) later, Mixicles are available in over 340 stores across the Midwest! 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Oh goodness, no. There have been many bumps along the way. In fact, had we known just how challenging it is to launch a consumer packaged good, we probably would not have ventured down this path. Everything takes so much longer – and way more money – than you’d think it would. Throw a global pandemic and supply chain issues into the mix, and you’re talking even more delays and costs. One of the things that we struggled with the most was finding a company willing to do an initial run of our packaging. Some shops wouldn’t even talk to us because we couldn’t meet their minimum order quantities, and others quoted prices that were way beyond our reach because we lacked the volume to get any discounts. Even after we had an offer from Kroger to sell Mixicles in three of its divisions across a five-state footprint, doors were slow to open. It takes a lot of time and perseverance to get companies to agree to take a chance on a start-up, and most of them require payment in advance until you’ve established yourself. So, finding access to cash is essential and yet another major challenge, especially if you don’t want to give up any equity in your company. 

As you know, we’re big fans of Mixicles. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Mixicles are all-natural drink mixers in ice-cube form. They contain only premium botanical ingredients and, unlike traditional bottled mixers, many of which have to be consumed within a few weeks of opening, Mixicles keep their fresh flavors in your freezer until you are ready to use them. The cubes chill and flavor your drinks without watering them down, and they enable anyone to simply, quickly, and consistently craft delicious beverages — with or without alcohol. We think of Mixicles as “drinking blocks” that can be layered with other flavors or with a variety of spirits, bitters, etc. to create totally custom drinks. 

We created Mixicles to deliver craft cocktail flavors to beverage enthusiasts at home in an easy, cost-effective, and waste-reducing way. While we both love craft cocktails, we rarely make them ourselves because of the time, effort, and cost involved in sourcing all the ingredients — many of which you’ll use just a portion of for one recipe, the rest going to waste — and then prepping the drinks. To make a drink with Mixicles, you don’t need fancy tools. Simply pop a frozen cube into a glass, top it with your favorite spirit, wine, beer, or other beverage, and let it infuse and chill your drink as it melts. 

What sets Mixicles apart from other mixers, besides being sold in ice-cube form, are the quality of the botanical ingredients and the flavor combinations offered. Mixicles enable anyone to be a mixologist. Our cubes are not cocktail-specific, and so the drink possibilities are endless. You can mix and match cubes, use them with or without alcohol, put them in smoothies, or simply enjoy them on their own as little frozen treats. All Mixicles are 25 calories or less per serving, and they contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients of any kind. 

What would you say has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Do your homework. Put in the time to learn as much as you can about the business you want to launch, and then seek guidance from an informed position. Make it easy for people to help you by being organized and tactical. Our experience has been that if you know what to ask for, you generally find what you need! Most people are more than willing to assist and want to see others succeed. 

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Image Credits
Shellee Fisher
Damien Thompson

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