You’ve probably seen Jess McClary’s set up at Eastern Market, but if you’re a fan of the hit NBC TV show, Shark Tank, than you definitely saw her pitching her made in Detroit McClary Bros drinking vinegars to the panel of potential investors.
Now, if all goes well, it’s highly likely you’ll see the unique drinking vinegars at every Michigan Meijer; and if McClary has it her way, that’ll happen before the holidays.
Most of this has happened somewhat quickly for the company. As McClary told us, she recently had her first “I’ve made it” sensation while grocery shopping at Meijer.
“I spotted the hole on the shelf waiting for our vinegar, and I’m glad to see it there,” Jess said.
McClary Bros. drinking vinegars, or “shrubs,” are a Colonial-era drink mixer made from organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with flavoring agents and organic cane sugar, sold online at $18 for 16 fl oz.
With the array of intriguing flavors like Michigan Apple Pie and Pineapple & Fennel, it’s easy to see why this new Detroit favorite is finding its way into the mainstream.
Locally, you’ll find the McClary Bros. drinking vinegar on cocktail menus at many of Detroit’s trendy restaurants, like Republic’s Detroit Pink, which uses Corktown’s Two James Old Cockney Gin, McClary’s vinegars and Beet and Carrot Shrubs to make a drink that tastes like vegetables drunk on power.
You can also out their website to find out where you can buy some of your own vinegars, or discover the local restaurants and bars that serve tasty cocktails infused with their pungent goodness.
McClary comes from a culinary background, which is why locally-sourced ingredients and supporting farmers are at the core of her business.
“We will be putting a second production location in New Orleans because the ingredients for our best flavors, like Detroit Fig Leaf or Lemon and Ginger, don’t grow in Michigan, but it does there,” Jess said. “New flavors created from ingredients grown in Louisiana will be released next summer.”
McClary credits much of her success to completing the Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Businesses program. While unaware of what would come of it upon entering the program, she left with the skills needed to push her business forward, and take on high pressure, national appearance on Shark Tank.
“The 10,000 Small Businesses program was the single best thing I did in terms of how to grow and run my business,” Jess said. “ I had never made an official pitch before that program; it prepared me to go out and do what I did on Shark Tank. Whether pitching to an investor or new customer, it’s really important to have a strong handle on that.”
Ultimately, the investors on Shark Tank passed on investing in Jess’s $100,000 pitch. Lori Greiner and Ashton Kutcher declined because they felt Jess was limiting the products versatility by focusing on its use in craft cocktails as opposed to cooking or medicinal benefits. Kevin O’Leary, a.k.a Mr. Wonderful, said no because he didn’t see a market demand significant enough to warrant an investment.
However, the results of the show didn’t deter McClary’s ambition on bit. With impending retail space on Meijer’s shelves and a growing national customer base, Jess is armed and ready to show Mr. Wonderful, and the rest of the panel, what they missed out on.
And we’ll be sure to drink to her continued success.