Meet the Founders: Moira Gilbert and Laura Menz of Muddle & Wilde

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Moira and Laura tried every mixer on the market and found that there’s no substitute for real fruits and herbs. After making botanical syrups at home, their project quickly blossomed into something much larger.

Using the freshest possible ingredients, Muddle & Wilde brings the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and bitter to cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. Crafted right here in California, their low-sugar syrups have made an indelible splash in the beverage world.

Recently, we caught up with Moira and Laura to learn more about their journey and hear their advice for fellow entrepreneurs.

01 Why did you start Muddle & Wilde?

Moira: It all started with a party! When we hosted a get-together in Topanga, we wanted to serve cocktails that were fun and different. We were both tired of the same-old options on the shelves. Laura turned to me and said, “How hard could this be?!” So, she gathered fresh herbs and citrus from the garden and cooked up our first flavors: Sage-Lemon, Rosemary-Grapefruit, and Lavender-Lemon. Mixed with vodka, they were a smash hit!

Laura: Moira — who had 30 years of experience in fashion sales and marketing — saw the potential right away and immediately got to work. I mean that literally. Less than 24 hours later, Muddle & Wilde was underway.

We got straight to brainstorming about packaging and branding while experimenting with new flavors in the kitchen. Our passion and momentum only grew from there. Three years later, we’re proud to say that we’re a full-fledged premium brand. While we’ve scaled beyond the kitchen, our mixers are still organic, made by hand, and cooked in small batches to this day.

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02 What obstacles did you face along the way?

Laura: We only use real ingredients in our syrups to develop our uniquely fresh flavors. That’s what sets us apart from the competition. However, finding the right production partner was a huge obstacle. After two years of searching, we found a local woman-owned factory that was able to handle our supply needs.

Also, when we started, we had to educate consumers on what makes Muddle & Wilde special. To build awareness, we spent considerable time at in-store demos, farmers markets, and other events. In the long run, that helped us better understand our market and build a smarter strategy.

Moira: We were both outsiders to the beverage world, so we had a lot to learn. Over time, that proved to be an unexpected advantage. Approaching everything with fresh eyes helped us think outside of the box!

As a new venture, we had to navigate our way from a “homemade” brand to larger production. It was a difficult phase but, in hindsight, it was fun, and allowed us to chart our own path.

03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Moira: You have to have a tremendous, unwavering belief in your product and the tenacity to see it through. The early years will be challenging, but surrounding yourself with the right people makes life a lot easier. In our case, we were brand new to the industry, so we made it a point to talk to as many people as possible.

Laura: Be prepared for the reality of sweat equity! If you want to maintain control of your company, you’ll have to work hard, multitask, and stomach a handful of calculated risks.

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04What’s on the horizon for Muddle & Wilde?

Moira: COVID-19 impacted our timeline, but we are excited to branch out into the hospitality space. There’s a huge opportunity for Muddle & Wilde in the world of craft cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. Meanwhile, we’re still expanding our natural grocery line. We’re especially excited about the ready-to-drink marketplace for Muddle & Wilde low-sugar sodas and infusions.

05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?

Moira: My career in fashion was high-pressure and required a lot of work trips. Thankfully, with Muddle & Wilde, I have been able to adjust my work schedule to better suit family life. It’s a pleasure to manage my own business, utilize the skills I’ve acquired, and control my own destiny.

The grind can be overwhelming at times, but it’s worth it to see the fruits of our labor. I’m driven by my strong will to succeed and the many ways we use nature’s bounties at Muddle & Wilde. Meanwhile, I draw inspiration from my wonderful family and my incredible business partner.

Laura: I’ve always been passionate about real food, good drinks, art, entertaining, and nature. Muddle & Wilde has given me the opportunity to bring all these passions together. I love experimenting with new flavors, so the task of creating all-natural mixers has been a total thrill for me.

The pandemic forced us to focus more on Instagram, which has also been a fun, creative outlet. Over the last year, I’ve been sharing new recipes and pairings while sharpening my photography skills. It’s been tremendously rewarding, because it’s led to new connections across the world.

My daily Buddhist practice brings me harmony and happiness. Maintaining the right atmosphere at home is everything, and that’s doubly true when you have four kids!

I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved. We did everything from scratch and built our business organically without compromising on quality. And we stayed friends! It’s been incredible to have so much support from our loved ones and customers. I’m excited about the future and I can’t wait to see what’s next for us at Muddle & Wilde!