Talking Canned Cocktails with Lauren and John Maggio of Cocktail Squad
It’s 6 a.m., and Lauren and John Maggio are blearily looking into each other’s eyes. They will be with each other all day, and well into the evening; after putting long hours into running their exciting new business, and after their kids are put to bed.
This is the story of the Boulder-based canned cocktail brand, Cocktail Squad: After an exemplary $6 cocktail, Lauren asked the bartender for the recipe. $103 later, she believed there was a way to bring a convenient and relaxing experience to life for others.
Six years later, another side to an already successful partnership of marriage and friendship has blossomed.
Did you two always want to go into business together? Did you stumble into it?
Lauren: I would say we absolutely stumbled into it. We had zero dreams or plans to work together. We got married pretty quickly, had one child, then very quickly had three, and then four. That was our version of working together.
John: We had three kids in 20 months and four years later had another child. We had been working together for a long time, but not in business.
John, you founded what is now known as Boulder Canyon Potato Chips and have several years of experience in the natural food and beverage industry. Lauren, you were an investment banker in New York and run your own interior design company for the past decade—How do these pieces equate to a canned cocktail company?
John: One of the things that is central to our story is really this passionate idea Lauren had based on her upbringing in New Orleans and our life being about celebration and balance and good times.
We’ve raised four children, we’ve been married 17 years, and we’ve certainly helped each other with our businesses before. I’ve been in the natural food and beverage industry launching businesses and running brands for 25 years—this is right up my alley.
Obviously, you know each other’s strengths and how you can work together. I think our skill sets allow us to bring the best of what we can bring to the business. We’re not duplicating efforts either.
Lauren: We both have been entrepreneurs along the way but in different industries. I started a small interior design business that I grew over the years. I was a self-starter in that way and self-taught in design and built up a robust business.
We’re both used to that scrappy entrepreneurial spirit.
What have you learned about one another since starting Cocktail Squad?
John: Lauren’s a resilient woman anyway, she’s got four children, but there’s a lot of learned resilience around being an entrepreneur on a daily basis; when you’re wearing a lot of hats and like her, you’re able to do a lot of things, but also really starting to be able to parse out the daily stress with what’s important.
At the end of the day, we’re not selling nuclear war triggers, but there is a lot of highs and lows, often before noon. It’s part of being an entrepreneur, where something goes right, and something doesn’t.
We also have a great investor base. People have really responded, and not just to my background; it’s been more about this passionate founder named Lauren. They’ve decided that’s really what they want to invest in, and have invested in us together. That’s been great to see: People giving Lauren the respect as well.
Lauren: I’d say that over the last 17 years, I’ve heard people working with John compliment him and his work ethic, and now I’m witnessing it firsthand. I have gained a newfound respect for my husband, who stays very even through the rollercoaster of growing a new brand.
I’ve heard how people outside our family respect him for his business, and I’m seeing that as a business partner now, not just as his wife.
Would you trade this experience for anything else?
Lauren: I would say absolutely not. This is the life I’ve been leading ever since I’ve met John, and how I feel about this company is I am giving it my everything because I believe in it so much that I have literally just jumped into the fire, ready for anything. I wouldn’t change that for the world.
It’s exciting, it’s rewarding, and I feel that as a female founder, it’s super important to show my children that if you truly believe in something, it’s up to you to make it happen.
John: I don’t know what will define success for us—we’re very early in the business, obviously—but for sure, I do feel like it’s a success. We’ve put a ton of time and energy and love into this business, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
You’ve got to be both feet in with something like this anyway.