We had the good fortune of connecting with Flo Vinger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Flo, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I started my career as a go-go dancer in New York City. I had such a love for dance that I became a professional dancer then, actor, and expanded into writing and directing. If you told me then I would have created and launched VING Organic Vodka in Los Angeles as the first wellness-minded spirit in the world, I would have thought you were nuts. I’ve grown up in an Italian American family where values, family, and honest work were drilled into me. I’m also a big risk taker and very self-analytical so, all that combined I realized there wasn’t alcohol on the market that was transparent or spoke to me… so, I created VING Organic Vodka.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I created VING Organic Vodka more out of necessity than anything else. I knew I could not connect with any alcohol brand because I had no idea what I was drinking and most of it just tasted like rubbing alcohol and not refined. I also knew I couldn’t be the only one that felt that way. Cluster headaches were a big problem for me when I drank wine, I didn’t understand why so, I started to educate myself. The more I dug in, I found out there are so many additives in alcohol. Simultaneously, I wanted to start my own business. I thought about it for five years. Then, I experimented in my kitchen for about three years and worked with a distillery for one year to see if I could even come up with a recipe and product that I liked. I knew the other huge challenge launching VING Organic Vodka was I knew absolutely nothing about the alcohol industry. I had to be very smart about the people that I would work with, and I would have to fully commit before even broaching this new venture. I wanted to be available and completely transparent with VING Organic Vodka and offer people the absolute cleanest and pure vodka they could possibly buy, and that’s why I made VING Organic Vodka with zero additives, free of sugar and carbohydrates, low calories, and used organic corn to ensure zero traces of gluten. I also wanted to be the first spirits brand to list the serving facts and ingredients on the label so, got VING lab tested to be positive of these results which also showed VING is free of sulfites and histamines. I have never experienced the multitude of challenges that I have by starting my own business. Along with the added complications of entering the Alcohol Beverage space. I had no idea how complex and complicated the legalities and logistics would be. I am so excited to be able to say that I didn’t cut any corners at all creating VING Organic Vodka and all that hard work and dedication to being honest and overcoming the challenges in an industry that wasn’t geared towards wellness and fitness and being the first brand to focus on changing the way people approach drinking spirits. I knew it was all going to be huge obstacles but, I also, in my heart felt that consumers were ready and needed a brand like VING Organic Vodka.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think the Farmers Markets are fun and have such a great verity of fresh, organic local food. Malibu beach can’t be missed in Californa and we would get there traveling through the winding mountains. For the day we would go see my buddy who is a professional drift-racing driver and get a drifting class or take boxing or martial arts lesson. I love bike riding too so, a fun off-road adventure in Grffith Park or one of the Canyons would be squeezed in. I have a deep love for film so, catching a flick at the Arclight with some of that amazing caramel corn and VING Organic Vodka cocktail would be perfect.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My father has been my never-ending support through life and my career. I would never be the person I am today or, even be able to do what I’m doing without his love and guidance. My family has supported this ambitious adventure and my sister-in-law Glynna Christian gave me some great legal guidance to get started. Brigitte Poirier has been my dear friend for years. Two years ago she went with me on this deep dive and has been working by my side on the front lines. I trust her and her instincts and am beyond grateful for her tolerance working for a start-up brand. It is a ton of hard work, with so many balls in the air and constant directional shifts. This business is not for the faint of heart and Brigitte is tough, creative, smart, and resilient. I admire her tenacity to hang in there with me to grow VING into a huge success. Anthony Caspary and Henry Tarmy are my distillery rock stars. I ask for perfection with the vodka and I know that is challenging so, I value their patience and our honest relationship. In beginning, the alcohol industry was so foreign to me, and thank goodness I met David Othenin Girard at K&L Wine Merchants who gave me some first-class schooling and has been a sounding board ever since. Trevor Ryan at Sage Vegan Bistro in Echo Park was the first person who gave VING a shot in a restaurant that I respect. That was a big win for me personally and I have a special spot in my heart for Trevor and Sage. Total Wine is a big highly valued partnership for us. They give us access to reach so many people and we hold the Total Wine team, especially Chelsea Zimmerman, in high regard. Brigitte and I have so much respect for the powerhouse ladies at Whole Foods Market. It is our newest account and we are beyond delighted to get VING onto Whole Foods shelves. Brigitte and I know how perfect VING Vodka is for Whole Foods customers and this relationship will help VING be more available to our demographic. I have to mention our first distribution company too, Cheryl Durzy and Tanya Riesbeck at Libdib. The first year was quite a doozy, I was all by myself and they were there for me every step of the way. Distribution is so key in the beverage space and Sarah Diehm and the Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits team have been so welcoming for our next phase of growth into more US states. We are all ready to take VING to the next level with our amazing new partnership. VING Organic Vodka would be nothing without all our fans and people drinking it! I have to thank all the influencers and friends who have posted on social media for us and enjoyed VING Vodka at their events. We also have had a lot of A-list celebrities serve VING at their private parties and we appreciate the tremendous value they bring. Anything big, with high stakes and great value, cannot be done alone. It’s so important to take a moment from the grind to appreciate and acknowledge everyone along the way.