We had the good fortune of connecting with Olivia Wolff and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Olivia, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Starting UpDog was really a hobby turned career situation. I was graduating from college and didn’t really know what path I was going to take. I was uninterested in going to graduate school, and not excited about any of the careers that utilized my field of study. I was making kombucha as a hobby when friends expressed interest in buying it from me. After my UpDog co-founder, Lauren Miller, and I really started to put time, effort and money into growing the brand during my last semester of school, I decided that we had enough proof of concept for me to commit myself to the business. I was really terrified of going into a field that I didn’t enjoy and being locked into a screen at a cubicle all day–I knew that my personality and lifestyle wasn’t built for that. Luckily, I was at a place in my life that I could be supported by my community so I could feel comfortable committing to a very bootstrapped startup. I also want to make it clear that I don’t think that every hobby should be turned into a business, because it definitely shouldn’t! This just happened to work for me and for what I wanted at this stage of my life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
After about 5 years of running UpDog together, in February of 2021 Lauren and I sold the UpDog Kombucha brand to Community Brewing Ventures (CBV), an innovative startup looking to disrupt the beer industry. We learned so much from our time building and growing UpDog to a well-known name in our region, from learning how to source ingredients to figuring out how to survive a pandemic! We did not have any investment capital or loans, and we ran a very successful small business. However, we knew that if UpDog were going to reach the heights that we knew the brand was capable of, the best way to do that would be to work with a company that had the network and resources to make that happen, such as CBV. Learning to let go of “ownership” of something I’ve built was difficult at first, but I am grateful that in my new role at CBV I can still be very involved with the brand and help take it to a level that I never anticipated!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Charlotte, so here’s what I would do for a quick trip! : My favorite…
Breakfast spots: Lincoln’s Haberdashery, Eight and Sand, Giddy Goat
Coffee Shops: Stable Hand, Undercurrent Coffee, Groundwork Common (Concord)
Activities: The whitewater center (USNWC) is great for some outdoor activities and River Jam, their outdoor concert series. Would also go to Camp North End to shop some local small businesses or see an art exhibit at Goodyear Arts, go to Front Porch Sundays, Davidson Farmers Market. Live music at The Evening Muse, or a bespoke cocktail at Idlewild!
Lunch: Crispy Banh Mi, Rhino Market NoDa, Viva Chicken
Dinner: Futo Buta, Vana or Inizio
Breweries: Vaulted Oak Brewing, Resident Culture Brewing, Wooden Robot Brewing, Catawba Brewing
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
When Lauren and I started UpDog, we were students at Wake Forest University. We found so much support not only through the student body there, but through the Center for Entrepreneurship. The farmers market community in Winston Salem, NC was also integral to our success from the start, as well as the small business community in Winston Salem and Charlotte.