Morgan Hancock, Bourbon With Heart
Morgan Hancock is full of ideas and energy, and her work life reflects those qualities. She’s a commercial real estate agent, US Army veteran, mother of two, and passionate advocate of the arts. Most recently, Morgan founded Bourbon with Heart, a nonprofit with a mission to leverage the influence and popularity of bourbon to raise funds for local charities while also providing a first-class arts experience for Kentuckians.
Episode 47 – Morgan Hancock, Bourbon With Heart
[00:00:55] Sanjay Parekh: Morgan Hancock is a commercial real estate agent, US Army veteran, mother of two, and passionate advocate of the arts. But, most recently, she’s the founder of Bourbon with Heart, a nonprofit that has a mission to leverage the influence and popularity of bourbon to raise funds for local charities, while also providing a first-class arts experience for Kentuckians. Here today to share the origin story of Bourbon with Heart and how she balances her business, her family, and her wellness is Morgan Hancock. Morgan, welcome to the show!
[00:01:26] Morgan Hancock: Hi. Thank you for having me.
[00:01:28] Sanjay Parekh: So, I'm excited to have you on, not only because I'm a fellow Kentuckian but because you're diving deep into the arts, which has lately been a passion of mine as well. But before we get into all of that, give us a little bit about your background. Give us a couple of minutes about who you are, where you came from, and how you got to where you are now.
[00:01:46] Morgan Hancock: Anytime I'm asked this question, there's not an easy answer because my background has been all over the place. I have worked in just about every industry. I've had a lot of different ventures that are seemingly disconnected. But I am from Kentucky. I was just born in a small town called Litchfield, Kentucky. I grew up as an only child until I was grown and had my own children, and then I got three more siblings. So, all my siblings are younger than my son. But I was always a child with an overactive imagination, loved the arts, loved creating, always a rebel. And I think that's just led me to all these different entrepreneurial ventures and to my latest one that I'm excited to talk about.
[00:02:43] Sanjay Parekh: So, I think that's so super fascinating because I think the best entrepreneurs are exactly that, right? They get all of these different experiences over time, and you kind of integrate them together. Is this the first time you're doing something entrepreneurial? And were there any entrepreneurs in your family that you got to watch as you were growing up?
[00:03:02] Morgan Hancock: This is definitely not the first time. I think I started entrepreneurial ventures as young as I can remember. And I do have an entrepreneur in my family. Most are not. But my dad, I remember he started at Walmart and then worked his way up to owning multiple stores and multiple locations. And yeah, he's his own businessman now, in business for himself. Definitely.
[00:03:40] Sanjay Parekh: So, I got to ask you then, so you said you started when you were really young. What was the first entrepreneurial thing that you did that you remember?
[00:03:48] Morgan Hancock: Oh my gosh. I've never told this story publicly before, but this is going to sound really weird. But for some reason I thought that it would be a good idea to go around to the houses in my neighborhood and offer to give in-home like spa services.
I was probably only like 10. And I remember I even made business cards on Word. With like clip art, and there was this person hanging at the end of this rope, and it said, ‘At the end of your rope, feeling stressed? Let me help.’ And I guess the weird part of that story is when I think about being 10 and knocking on strangers’ doors, asking if they want to massage or something and then why did my parents allow this?
[00:04:44] Sanjay Parekh: Wait? Is this a trick? Is this entrapment? What is happening here?
[00:04:47] Morgan Hancock: And I charged five cents a minute.
[00:04:53] Sanjay Parekh: Five cents a minute. Okay, I’ve got to ask; how did you do price discovery on that? Like how did you pick five cents a minute as the price point?
[00:05:02] Morgan Hancock: I don't know, but I also talked my friend into doing it with me. So, it was two of us going around and knocking on strangers’ doors. And we were, I remember distinctly that one time, this lady let us come in and give her this whole pamper day and massage and all this. And she gave us a $5 bill, which was more than what the five cents a minute should have been. And we like, thought we hit the jackpot. We were like, oh my gosh. She paid us so much more than what our price is. But yeah, looking back like that's embarrassing, but that's a true story. And why did my parents allow this? It's probably another question. It doesn't sound safe at all. [Laughs]
[00:05:43] Sanjay Parekh: That's super interesting. So, you did have some paying customers doing that, it sounds like, more than one?
[00:05:51] Morgan Hancock: We did, and we survived. We weren't kidnapped or killed, [laughs] and I don't recall any criminal activity. It worked. I wouldn't suggest that to any children or parents these days. But it worked out. So, I guess, I've never really thought about. That's the start to my entrepreneurial journey. Nickel-a-minute massages to strangers in my neighborhood as a child. [Laughs]
[00:06:19] Sanjay Parekh: I love that. Listeners this podcast will know that I often talk about one thing that a lot of early entrepreneurs have done, and I did too, growing up, is candy bar arbitrage. So, I used to buy candy bars, take them to school, sell them to other kids for more than what I paid for them because their parents wouldn't give them candy bars. And then for me at least, I would use the difference of course to buy more candy bars. Yeah, I got to replenish that stock. But I bought comic books with my extra money. What did you end up buying with your money from the massage business?
[00:06:54] Morgan Hancock: Oh, my goodness. I don't remember what I bought, but now you have me thinking because I just remembered what I would consider my second entrepreneurial venture was. I had mentioned that my dad owned these stores, and we had a lot of these Beanie Babies. They were like collectible at the time.
[00:07:10] Sanjay Parekh: I remember Beanie Babies. Yeah.
[00:07:12] Morgan Hancock: And so, he had all a whole lot of these. And I had just thought if I was just going to take them, put them out in the yard, like a yard sale and sell them all, but I was going to sell them for more than what they were retailing for. And I was like if I just pay him back, he'll be happy that I sold them. But I didn't realize that they were worth like far more than what the retail was. So, I sold them all for $2 more when they were like, $200 collectors and like I sold out in an hour because people drive by and saw these collector Beanie Babies that I had taken from my dad's store and sold. And so, I remember he was, I thought he was going to be proud, and he was not happy because I sold all his collector Beanie Babies for much less than they were worth.
[00:08:04] Sanjay Parekh: I think all of these stories kind of point to some question of what was happening in the household there, because they let you do massages in people's houses and then walk away with collector Beanie Babies that were not apparently under lock and key. So, I don't know. I feel like yeah, I don't know that you were entirely at fault in kind of any of these stories. But let's switch gears to what you're doing now. How did you get your start in launching Bourbon with Heart?
[00:08:37] Morgan Hancock: So, I've always loved the arts. I've always considered myself a creative, I've always been a writer and an artist. And performing arts and everything, and comedy, which comedy is an art form. And I haven't always loved bourbon. I didn't start loving that at age 10.
[00:09:06] Sanjay Parekh: Oh, we would have all kinds of questions at that point about your parents.
[00:09:10] Morgan Hancock: Yeah, no, I was 12 when I started loving bourbon. [Laughs] But no, I love bourbon. Bourbon is a huge part of Kentucky. It's the most powerful industries that we have are bourbon and horse racing, and it's something that really brings Kentuckians together. If you're Kentuckian, you love bourbon. And the whole world, knows Kentucky as the leader of the bourbon industry. But what they don't know Kentucky for is our rich and thriving arts culture. And arts are big in Kentucky and we have a ton of talent here, and that's just not well known. This organization is a way to use that existing popularity and influence of bourbon to bring that awareness to our rich and thriving arts culture.
[00:10:03] Sanjay Parekh: Oh, that's awesome. That's awesome. So, when you started thinking about this, was it like you had a history with bourbon, you had access to bourbon. Like how did you think, hey, I want to do something with arts, do something with bourbon. But how do I get access to these things to make sure that I can make it all happen?
[00:10:26] Morgan Hancock: Yeah, that's a good question. I did have access to bourbon a couple different ways. I have worked in advertising for a long time. So, through that I was already working with the brands and then also my fiancé of five years — and yes, we've been engaged like five years — but he owns a fire protection company and does the fire protection for almost all of the distilleries in Kentucky. Fire protection's very important when it comes to bourbon, it's flammable. And so, between those two, between fire protection and the advertising, I was already pretty well connected with the bourbon industry.
[00:11:13] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Okay. So, you decided to start this thing. You had entrepreneurial experiences, some crazy ones. I think all entrepreneurs, they always have something that kind of scares them or they worry about. What scared you about starting Bourbon with Heart?
[00:11:34] Morgan Hancock: So, I think sometimes I think whatever that thing is that scares people, it's broken in me and maybe I need it a little bit more. I should maybe be scared of things. So, I would say I wasn't necessarily scared of, what, if this doesn't work or anything like that. The kind of fear that I get with any entrepreneurial venture, and it's really quite unreasonable, is once I get a good idea and I love the idea, I suddenly start panicking and thinking, everyone's wanting to do this idea and I've got to hurry up and do it faster than them, or it's going to get taken from me. And so that's exactly what happened with this, because I just thought there's no way people haven't thought to combine bourbon and art. And there's no way they're not doing bourbon barrel art in Kentucky, there's no way these things aren't happening. So just panicking, like thinking, I got to do this as fast as possible. That's kind of where my fear comes in.
[00:12:29] Sanjay Parekh: So, for you, how do you overcome that fear or manage that fear?
[00:12:36] Morgan Hancock: I guess, there's no way to totally overcome it other than I just do it. And then I just get out there in front of it and I get the idea out there, and then I start to calm down once I realize that, okay, I'm talking about this, no one's coming out of the woodwork and wanting to do the same idea. And this is, this will be mine and I can do this, and it'll be fine. So really just by doing it.
[00:13:04] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Do you have that fear anymore or have you realized like, hey, that was an irrational fear. There is nobody else doing this.
[00:13:12] Morgan Hancock: No, I have that fear a lot, every day.
[00:13:14] Sanjay Parekh: You still have that fear? This far into it, you still have that fear?
[00:13:20] Morgan Hancock: Now it's not with Bourbon With Heart, with someone wanting to do an arts bourbon organization. But it's now, with every new idea that I get. I'm doing bourbon barrel bow ties for Derby. It's actually bow ties made out of bourbon barrels. And I actually go pick them up tomorrow. I have a group of local veteran woodworkers. They realize that woodworking helps their PTSD. They're making them. I go pick them up tomorrow. And, I even think, oh no, everyone's going to want to do bourbon barrel bow ties for Derby, I've got to get these and then I have to go, ‘Morgan, if they haven't done bourbon barrel bow ties in this many years for Derby, it's going to be okay.’ So just talking to myself.
[00:14:04] Sanjay Parekh: And so, I’ve got to ask, so the bow tie part of itself is the wooden part. You're not tying that obviously. So, then there's a fabric strap that goes to it. I'm trying to like, imagine what this is like.
[00:14:14] Morgan Hancock: Yeah. Really soon you'll be able to see it. Yeah. So, people have made wooden bow ties, but not out of bourbon barrel. Obviously, they're going to look the same because it's wood, but we know, and the brand will know, and Kentucky will know, it's made out of bourbon barrels. So yeah, it's wooden. And then it will have a, a next strap and like a regular bow tie. But, in a way it's nice because they just, they stay put.
[00:14:44] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. I learned something new today because I didn't even know that wooden bow ties were even a thing.
[00:14:51] Morgan Hancock: They are, and these are going to be incredible because I'm starting with making 50 of them, and each one is going to be either hand painted by local artists, or carved, or it's called pyrography, where you will burn the design into them. So, then there's really nothing like it and it's actually going to be an art gallery as well, leading up to Derby. So, they're going to be in shadow boxes along a wall, an art gallery. And they can be purchased and then worn to Derby.
[00:15:22] Sanjay Parekh: Oh, that's neat. That's neat. I love that.
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[00:15:47] Sanjay Parekh: Okay, so let's switch a little bit and talk. You've got obviously a ton of ideas for what you're doing. So how do you manage the stress of owning this and working full-time with everything else that happens in life?
[00:16:05] Morgan Hancock: I think that there's no like X plus Y equals Z formula for really anything in life. So, for me it's just, I kind of just lean into the chaos and I kind of just thrive in it. I guess that's really the best answer. I just lean into it and I just, I know that it's okay if everything's crazy and the days are crazy and that's really, that's what makes it fun.
[00:16:37] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Yeah. Do you think about like setting boundaries and if so, how do you set those boundaries and think about them? You've got kids and you've got friends and life, and then you've got work. And with the things that you're doing, they probably blend a little bit, right? Because some of those people are involved in the things that you're doing. But how do you think about those boundaries for yourself?
[00:17:02] Morgan Hancock: So, I am fortunate because my fiancé is also an entrepreneur, a business owner, so he along for the ride for a lot of these, as I do with him as well. And with someone who wasn't, they wouldn't understand those things, so boundaries would look a lot different. And then with my children, they're 13 and 20. And my 20-year-old is already starting, the same. He came up with a clothing line idea the other day. He says he wants to call it Creatively Dead. I'm not totally sure what that means but sounds kind of cool. And it's because he said he's creatively dead. He says, you're so creative, I'm creatively dead. But then he said, that might be a cool brand name. I go, that's not creatively dead then. That's creatively alive. But I guess, so for me I bring these people into my world, and we share these things. So, setting boundaries maybe looks a little different for us than it may for other families. If that makes sense.
[00:18:08] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. I'll say the Grateful Dead did pretty well with that name and what they did. So, if that's any indication your son's going to do well with Creatively Dead.
How do you think about, so you know, in your day do you have an exercise routine, and how do you work that in into your days? Because as entrepreneurs, we work a lot, right? There's always things to do.
[00:18:31] Morgan Hancock: Yeah. So, probably nobody feels like they exercise as much as they should. But again, I just try to make it a team. I try to make it where I can be productive while I'm doing these things. My fiancée and I might go for a walk together, but of course the whole time we go on our nightly walk, we're talking, we're planning, we're strategizing, so it doesn't feel like wasted time. And I also discovered something new: physician assisted stretching that I'm obsessed with. And so, I do that a few times a week and it's been like, I feel awesome. So, I highly suggest physician assisted stretching.
[00:19:17] Sanjay Parekh: Physician assisted stretching. So, what does that mean? So, you go and see a doctor and they help you stretch?
[00:19:23] Morgan Hancock: But yeah, basically if you were going to stretch yourself you can like only stretch so far because you're just going to stop. Cause it hurts. But you get strapped down and they will isolate like one muscle at a time, and they stretch it like as far as they can and it's not painful at all and you feel incredible. And I don't know how, apparently it burns calories and I love it because they say it's exercising. But you're just lying there getting just like stretching. That's the best exercise ever. But it's, I highly suggest it, like I'm addicted to it. And the first time I did it, I walked out of there, I think I was two inches taller. You got to try it.
[00:20:10] Sanjay Parekh: Okay, I’ve got to ask about this because this is the first time, I've ever heard about this. So, is it a special kind of doctor that you have to find to do this? Or what is it that you go? If I'm searching, if I'm a listener to this podcast, I'm like, I want to do physician assisted stretching, what do I search for? Who do I search for?
[00:20:30] Morgan Hancock: I don't know what it's called in other places, but what it's called in my city, it's very fitting name it's called ‘The Stretch Zone.’
[00:20:40] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. Oh, so there's a company, an organization, and so you just, you're making appointments, so how many times a week are you going? You're going, what do you say, two, three times a week?
[00:20:49] Morgan Hancock: Yeah. You go for 30 minutes. And you can, for all the entrepreneurs out there, you can like just be on your phone while they're stretching your lower body. You don't even have to break your email session there. But it really is great. I've been doing it for about four months now, like religiously. It's one of my favorite times of the week, and I feel so much better when it's over. I don't know all the science behind what it does. You just have to Google physician assisted stretching. And when I went the first time, I thought, oh, it's just going to be me and like a bunch of senior citizens in here, like stretching, like who, what is this just stretching? But I went and it was all athletes. Because this, I think it's great for you. And I was skeptical but, I'm a believer.
[00:21:42] Sanjay Parekh: So how is it that you got hooked into this originally? Did somebody tell you about it or how did you find out?
[00:21:46] Morgan Hancock: Sitting at my desk all day, every day, you're constantly like your neck, back. And I was like, I've got to do something because I'm going to, this is not going to be good for me when I get older. And so, I just Googled ways to help your neck or sitting on a desk all day and it said stretching. Then I think I started getting ads for The Stretch Zone. Because you Google a word, right? And all of a sudden, they're targeting you. And I booked the free consultation and the next thing I know I'm like their biggest advocate.
[00:22:21] Sanjay Parekh: Wow. Wow. That is fascinating. I've definitely learned something so far. And we've still got a few more minutes of stuff I want to talk about. So, okay, now you're super loose and stretched out. How do you account for sleep and other wellness stuff in your time and growing your business?
[00:22:43] Morgan Hancock: I do try to make it a point to, every night when I shut stuff down, at least spend an hour, two hours winding down, talking with my fiancé. I make that a point that I spend that time. I don't just work until I can't keep my eyes open any longer. So, we do that, and we try to make sure we have a show or something that we are into or watch together, and so just keeping that as a boundary, keeping that boundary, just helps us. At the end of the day, we have a glass of bourbon or two or three, and so sleeping, I probably get six, seven hours a night.
[00:23:33] Sanjay Parekh: Okay. So, I’ve got to ask, because I'm a TV junkie too. What's the most recent, favorite show that you guys are watching?
[00:23:40] Morgan Hancock: Well, let's see. So ironically last night we watched the documentary of Richard Branson. We're addicted to the Masterclasses. I don’t know if you have the app. So, we, it's not really a TV show, but you can airplay it onto your tv. Yeah. So, we will watch Masterclasses. It's kind of nerdy now that I think about that, we'll watch Masterclasses. So that's another thing I highly suggest is the Masterclass app, it's worth every penny.
[00:24:12] Sanjay Parekh: I love it. I love it. Okay, so now, you've been doing this for a little over a year now. And if you could go back in time and do something differently, what is that, that you do differently? Or is there anything that you do differently?
[00:24:29] Morgan Hancock: Yeah, that's always a hard question. I've certainly done things that I probably don't think were the best decision, but I guess I can't say I would do anything differently because whatever I did is how I got here and I'm really living my dream life right now.
[00:24:46] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. There isn't something that you're like, oh, if I'd known this then, what I know now, I would've been able to do this better or somewhat differently?
[00:24:56] Morgan Hancock: I started my massage business at 10. I don't know what else I could have done earlier or sooner. [Laughs] But no, I guess I just if there ever has been a time where I've had a hesitation, I would just maybe wish I didn't have any hesitation. Or if there were opportunities or I was maybe a little scared to take them. One thing is, if I see an opportunity and I think, oh, I don't want to be too pushy, or I don't want to bug that person, I don't want to ask them for that. I should have always just pushed and asked because what's the worst that's going to happen?
[00:25:36] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. I think that's great advice. And I think that's the thing that holds back a lot of people from entrepreneurship. But is there anything else that you would think of that somebody that's thinking about taking the leap and doing a side hustle or turning their side hustle into a full-time business, what would you tell them? Definitely not go into strangers houses and give them massages, so that's number one. But after that.
[00:26:00] Morgan Hancock: Anytime I'm starting a new venture, pursuing a new idea, I just always ask myself, what's the worst that could happen? And that really is what I would have them ask themselves. What's the worst that could happen? The worst that can happen is it doesn't work out, and that's not really all that bad.
[00:26:19] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. I think, yes, you're right, a hundred percent. I believe that too. I think a lot of people over exaggerate the downside of not succeeding. And then I'm not sure why that is. And I think that's the thing that holds back a lot of people from being entrepreneurs. And when you, obviously when you were doing the massage business, you didn't think of any downside, but after that, the first time you did something real how did you get rid of that fear of what's the worst that could happen?
[00:26:57] Morgan Hancock: Yeah. I've had a lot of different ventures and I'm not doing most of them anymore. So that means they either didn't work out or it ended up not being for me. And so, I guess the way that I would start, would get over that fear would just be, the worst thing that could happen is I'm right back here where I started. I wish I had a better answer for you, but I just think that perspective can really help people. Like you said, you're exaggerating worst case scenario most of the time. Because when you say that people are afraid, success won't work out, well, what does that really mean? It may just not work out right then. But this is a long ballgame. So do the next thing.
[00:28:00] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Yeah. This is not a one and done type of situation. There's many at bats that everybody has. This has been fantastic. Where can our listeners find and connect with you?
[00:28:14] Morgan Hancock: So, bourbonwithheart.org is our website. And then on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube — same. It's just @bourbonwithheart. And then if you want me personally, Instagram, Facebook, Morgan Brooke with an “E” Hancock.
[00:28:32] Sanjay Parekh: I love it. I love it. Thanks for coming on, Morgan.
[00:28:35] Morgan Hancock: Thank you.
[00:28:38] Sanjay Parekh: Thank you for listening to this week's episode of the Side Hustle to Small Business Podcast, powered by Hiscox. To learn more about how Hiscox can help protect your small business through intelligent insurance solutions, visit hiscox.com. And if you have a story you want to hear on this podcast, please visit www.hiscox.com/shareyourstory. I'm your host, Sanjay Parekh. You can find me on Twitter @sanjay or on my website at www.sanjayparekh.com.