We had the good fortune of connecting with Stacey Smith-Clark and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stacey, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
I am and always have been a planner. The day I get a new calendar for the upcoming year is one of my favorite days, as it’s all so fresh and new. I still use a paper calendar in addition to an electronic calendar and both help me keep track of what’s coming up and see the timing and flow of all of it. The paper calendar provides simplicity and flexibility to see the big picture, plan, and jot down appointments and ideas. For me, there is something about physically writing down a task or an appointment that helps my brain remember the task better and hopefully create some balance between the things I have to do vs. what I want to do.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Women Who Whiskey – LBC is my fun job/side job/hobby. I have another full-time job in education. I suppose wWw-LBC is also rooted in education and I’ve heard that what sets us apart from other whiskey clubs is the relaxed nature of our events. My goal is to provide information and share knowledge in a comfortable and approachable way. There are many whiskey snobs and whiskey zealots out there and I have no interest in anyone telling me or other ladies what to do or how to do it. My motto is drink what you want.
Establishing wWw-LBC wasn’t difficult, as I cut my teeth as the Vice President of wWw-Los Angeles and their president, Kim Axelrod Ohhaneson, is an absolute beast and mentored me well. I had been hosting events in Long Beach for a couple years when the idea was floated to establish our own chapter. Long Beach is in Los Angeles County, but I think it’s an accurate statement to say that everyone in LA loves their car, but no one actually wants to drive outside their neighborhood. Every time we would host an event in Long Beach, people would complain about the 405 and how it’s so far away! I conferred with bartenders and bar owners in Long Beach before taking the plunge and every single one of them told me to do it and offered their help. Our chapter launched on Halloween 2019 and had a solid 4 months of events before Covid hit. We very quickly transitioned to virtual events and partnered with local bars and restaurants with cocktails to go and virtual happy hours —and it was personal. because I wanted them to survive and as a community, we needed them to still be in business when we came out of this.
Virtual events brought together whiskey friends from all over to happy hours and it was perfectly safe, as no one had to leave their house. They also really helped our chapter get footing as we were able to have master distillers from all over the country educate us. This also forced me to think outside the box and figure out how we could legally get products to our members and I met some fantastic liquor store owners that were (and still are) incredibly helpful and supportive and made it very clear that women are welcome and valued in their shops.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am born and raised in the LBC and although I take field trips to Los Angeles and Orange County, Long Beach is my home and I am super hyped for my city. When my friends come to town, I love to take them to the top of Signal Hill, which is a separate city but IN the middle of Long Beach. You can see the entire city from Hilltop Park, day or night. If we want a little workout, we’ll park at the bottom and hike up the hill, choosing either paved or the back side nature way, either are a great challenge every single time. Other beautiful places to get outside and enjoy the fresh air include the beach pedestrian path along Ocean Blvd. and the El Dorado Park Nature Center.
In regards to food and drinks, we absolutely have to go to The Hawk Bar at least once, but honestly, probably multiple times. They have the best selection, prices and hospitality—and a photo booth! Pancho’s Taco Truck is across the street if you’re hungry or there are pupusas from La Ceiba 2 doors down. The Ordinarie is one of my favorite places to take friends to eat and drink and then we’d head around the block to Rosemallow’s for some night cap tiki drinks (which they absolutely can make with whiskey, upon request.) The Grasshopper and Bamboo Club also have stellar cocktails and I am eagerly anticipating Darling’s reopening soon, so we can hit that whole Anaheim cooridor!
For breakfast, I want to share my love of the bagels from Grounds Bakery (cheese garlic FTW) and the breakfast sandwiches from Colossus Bread may be the best I’ve ever had. We will grab a coffee from Portola or Philz (or both). I love to stop by The Hanger at LBX for lunch and some of my favorites are Morning Nights plant-based dim sum, Bite Mi bánh mì sandwiches and Amoricito. For dinner, we would go to Enrique’s, Little Coyote, Los Compadres, Chiang Rai and/or A&J Seafood Shack. How long are these people in town? Can we hit all of the above?!
We would definitely wander along 4th Street for shopping and pop into the women-owned Pippi + Lola plant studio and Oh la Vache cheese shop. If they’re here on the third Sunday of the month, we would have to swing by the antique market at vets Stadium. If they’re into roller skating, we would go skating at Pigeon’s Roller Rink at 2nd & PCH and if we need pampering, we would book an appointment with Susan of Susan Hammond Skin Care or at Lebua Thai Spa.
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?
I feel so fortunate to have been mentored and supported by a number of people in the hospitality industry that have helped me with my journey. If I have to select just one, I’ll go wish Ashley Erwin. I first met Ashley when she was bartending at Everson Royce Bar in Los Angeles and I was a patron. I sat down at the bar one Sunday and then went back every week for 2 years. The entire bar team there was top notch and Sundays were a bit slower so she had time to answer my questions about whiskey and spirits, taught me new things, sharing stories and information. She crafted many a cocktail for me and explained how one builds a drink and what it becomes if you take an ingredient away, sub out another spirit, etc. The topic is endless and upon reflection, I feel so incredibly lucky to have been tutored by this person week after week. We also ended up becoming actual friends in real life outside of the bar and she is one of those people that absolutely has my back and gasses me up at every opportunity. She’s one of the most brilliant, creative and funniest people I know and I feel so thankful to have her in my life. She is still working in the hospitality industry, now in a much larger capacity, and she helps me plan and execute the most sensational events for Women Who Whiskey and has modeled exceptional customer service skills. I wish everyone could have an Ashley in their personal and professional life to help them feel good about themself and the way that they exist in the world.