Reece Sims is an entrepreneur, educator, and writer who focuses on drink trends, flavour pairings, and beverage market insights. As a former award-winning bartender and top Sales Manager for over 80 liquor brands, she saw an opportunity in the beverage alcohol market and founded SIP Spirits Consulting in 2022

As a ‘sensory marketing’ focused firm, 
SIP Spirits specializes in delivering data-driven insights and crafting immersive, educational brand experiences. From aroma analysis to taste strategies and tactile engagement, the company harnesses multi-sensory stimuli to evoke emotions, elicit feedback for beverage brands, and drive consumer engagement.

Over a short two-and-a-half-year period, the company has worked with over 100 different products and facilitated more than 80 focus-group type tastings with a program called Flavor Camp™ in BC and Alberta

portfolioyvr, Helen siwak, Reece Sims, entrepreneur, SIP Spirit Consulting, Flavour Camp, Vancouver, bc, yvr

IN HER WORDS

“I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Growing up, my dad was a consultant who worked from home, managed his own time, and was able to charge what he believed his time was worth. It all sounded very glamorous.

“In reality, with unlimited income potential and ownership over your time, there is also an immense amount of instability, which I have always been mindful of. When I was younger, I did not think of myself as entrepreneurial. 

“Still, I was always creative, competitive, an opportunist, and diversified (always balancing involvement in multiple clubs, projects, and jobs simultaneously). And looking back, those four characteristics, in my opinion, are essential to entrepreneurship.

“The idea of entrepreneurship came to light in my first year at the University of Victoria when I met Kyle Vucko, President of the UVic Commerce Students Society.

 

“At the time, Kyle and his business partner were starting up a business idea they had, and he sold me on the idea of pursuing a business degree, which I ended up doing. At this time, his idea was the beginning stages of Indochino, which has grown to become North America’s largest made-to-measure suit retailer

“Flash forward a few years to my fourth year of BCOM, where we had to choose our specialization, and Entrepreneurship was one of the four options.

“At that time, I felt too insecure to choose it, as that is what the ‘cool kids’ were doing, and I did not feel like I was part of that crowd, so I decided on International Business instead. 

“Looking back now, my reasoning was ridiculous, but clearly, it was an inevitable calling that happened with or without that specialization.

“From a very young age, I was very eager to earn income to buy the things I wanted.

“When I was 9 or 10, I helped a friend with their paper route. I worked extra hard to deliver the majority of the papers enthusiastically, thinking that I would get most of the money. After only a few dollars, I quickly realized that as long as you work for someone else, they control your income potential. While I did not start a small business as a child or teen, I worked multiple jobs during the summers to maximize my income potential. 

“During my teen years, I worked my way up to becoming a Swing Manager position at McDonalds. I also balanced being a weekend receptionist at a car dealership and a part-time administrative assistant at a law firm during the summer between high school and university. 

“While all three positions sounded professional on paper, one of my friends told me that if I became a busser or hostess at a restaurant, I could earn tips. The idea of making additional compensation dictated by how hard you worked appealed to me, so I quit my job at Mcdonald’s to take a busser position at a local Mexican restaurant. That is definitely when an entrepreneurial mindset was sparked

“A blurry line exists between adopting a ‘fail fast’ business approach and having ‘shiny object’ syndrome. Over the last ten years, I have had many ideas for digital and physical products that I thought were good. However, after countless hours of scheming and developing the concept from prototype to launch, I quickly lost interest. 

“From jewelry to resume templates to printed posters, in retrospect, what drove the pursuit was the thought that I could make money off of them. However, I have learned that making money, for me at least, cannot be the sole purpose on which to base your business; it needs to be solving a problem you are passionate about. Over time, you will test, revise, and evolve until you get into flow, and the money will follow. With that, however, I have learned that you cannot just follow your passion and expect to make money; you need to have a vision, forecast, be strategic, advocate for yourself and what you are doing, and, most importantly, get comfortable with rejection and making mistakes, both will happen a lot. 

“When I first incorporated SIP Spirits in 2022, I was still working full-time as the Marketing & Sales Manager at Lavish Liquid and The Bar Cart

“My boss, who also happens to be 
one of my best friends in the industry, Chris Chuy, was always supportive of the side hustles that I was doing. 

“Once the stringent pandemic requirements had lifted (sort of), I was eager to start facilitating educational tastings for two purposes: first, to cultivate community again, and second, to fill a gap in the market for beverage brands I felt was lacking. 

“I own two businesses currently. My first business, Reece Sims Branding & Strategy, was registered in 2014 as a way to do consulting in addition to my full-time employment. Whereas the majority of revenue was derived from BTS social media management for many years, I pivoted from managing others’ presences to monetizing my own as an Industry Expert

“So services such as public speaking engagements, panels, judging, freelance writing, or social media content creation are invoiced through this company as it is a Sole Proprietorship

“My second business, SIP Spirits, was incorporated in February 2022 and is focused, as formerly mentioned, on sensory marketing for beverage brands and everything and anything Flavor Camp™-related; these are entities of their own that I intend to scale to where I am not essential to business operations because there are systems and a team that can handle the day-to-day while I focus on the vision

portfolioyvr, Helen siwak, Reece Sims, entrepreneur, SIP Spirit Consulting, Flavour Camp, Vancouver, bc, yvr

“I identify as a calculated risk taker, so I had a plan before diving off the deep end, so to speak. I had saved up enough short-term savings to cover my living expenses for six months (and also had emergency savings). In addition, I will be honest: I had very few responsibilities outside of myself. As a renter I did not have a mortgage, do not have children, and I had a supportive partner who encouraged me to take the leap. “The most significant mindset shift when switching from working for someone to working for yourself is your perception of time

“In starting your own business, you are no longer thinking about weeks or months; you are thinking about revenue over the year or perhaps even a decade or longer. 

“Now, entering my third year of full-time entrepreneurship, I am reinvesting as much profit as possible to grow the business and paying myself very little. Bootstrapping can be uncomfortable and unglamorous behind the scenes, but 
I would not have it any other way.

“I have not had that pivotal moment yet where I am sure that it will all work out – which is all part of the fun (or perhaps anguish) of entrepreneurship. But I think that the moment when I realized I was all-in on the business was when I invested thousands of dollars in hiring a Law firm to apply for the trademarks for Flavor Camp™ in multiple countries as well as the copyrights, which is so important, especially when working in a creative profession. Protect your intellectual property, people! 

“This year, there are three things that I am focused on to scale the Flavor Camp™ side of the business. First, what can I outsource to free up more time to focus on revenue-generating activities? Research, data processing, bookkeeping, and accounting are now being outsourced to some fantastic contractors (who currently all happen to be women). Second, I am working on testing some strategic partnerships to expand the in-person part of Flavor Camp™ further across Canada and also into the USA. Third, I am testing multiple revenue streams for the business to see what works and what does not, from creating physical products to launching an online paid membership option to additional in-person services

“Countless people worldwide have helped me immensely along this entrepreneurial journey; however, these four, based in Vancouver, have been essential in the beginning stages of the business. 

“Maggi Mei (@magmei) has been my number one supporter since day one of launching the in-person event arm with SIP Spirits and has been such a cheerleader, selflessly using her vivacious presence in the industry to promote and advocate for me.” 

Chris Chuy (@thecocktailtailor) is one of my best friends in the industry with an incredible charisma that is infectious in the industry. He genuinely cared about my building legacy in the industry, whether that was with his company or on my own. 

Eva Pang (@oneweedram) is a brilliant and analytical person who has been an unofficial business advisor throughout the years. Typically, when I have a “wild idea,” I will pitch it to her before surveying my audience, just to act as an initial filter. 

portfolioyvr, Helen siwak, Reece Sims, entrepreneur, SIP Spirit Consulting, Flavour Camp, Vancouver, bc, yvr

“In phase one of the Flavor Camp™ program (before it was even called Flavor Camp™), James Bornn (@jamesebornn) was one of the first believers on the client side to understand the company’s vision and enthusiastically committed a number of brands in his company’s portfolio to the programs. 

“Finally this year, imbibers are really starting to notice Flavor Camp™ as a brand and recognize that we are doing something different to disrupt the industry. Similarly, I am beginning to see a transition from push marketing to pull marketing, with brands wanting to participate in our programs, which is exciting. 

“The most significant difference this year compared to the last two years, operations-wise, is having a plan for the entire year to follow with programs that already have proof of concept and cutting the deficit resulting programs. 

“Many of my business decisions are based on data this year, but with that, I still let my intuition guide my decision-making – for those of you who know about Human Design, I am a Splenic Authority and lean into it. 

“Our business model is multi-faceted, but on a consumer level, Flavor Camp™ develops your sensory skills by providing a universal language for tasting spirits. Through this, we teach guests how to identify, describe and compare spirits and apply this knowledge to other ingredients like cocktails and food pairings. With this focus in mind, our touching points to build the community are online with our interactive monthly challenges, in-person events, and customized corporate gatherings. Bottom line: good taste is a skill; we are here to teach it. 

“By the end of 2025, we will be running Flavor Camp™ classes across Canada and in a few major markets in the USA. This will also allow for more robust, national market feedback for taste-based insights and competitor analysis. 

“Five years from now, I project that there will be over one million members in our community, and the tasting systems will be used multi-nationally as an organizational system and educational tool in on-premise and retail. We want to be the universal language of tasting and trend forecasting for spirits and all other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.”

Author Profile

Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, PORTFOLIOY.YVR Business & Entrepreneurs Magazine, and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at helen@ecoluxluv.com.
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