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Meet Trailblazer Lara Worm

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lara Worm.

Lara, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a 3rd-generation San Diego entrepreneur. I grew up in a family-owned restaurant and catering company (my grandpa owned a restaurant in San Diego starting 60 years ago, and my dad took over the business and then partnered with my mom, and now my brother is carrying on their legacy). Growing up, I worked in restaurants/service and alcohol industries for years. The one thing I learned from all that experience was that I never wanted to own a restaurant. So, I headed east to law school in Washington, DC, and landed my dream job as an Assistant United States Attorney. Most of my career I was a homicide prosecutor and tried very exciting cases in our nation’s capital. So, I spent a decade avoiding my entrepreneurial side as an attorney in Washington, DC but was finally lured home for the sunshine and my family in San Diego. When I moved back, I happily continued working as a lawyer. Then, one day just around Thanksgiving 2015, my business partner Matt pitched me on his idea for bringing craft cider to San Diego. I loved the idea, but wished him luck and said I had no intention on leaving the law and going back into the food and booze business. Somehow he convinced me (I think after many ciders), and here I am, owning a restaurant and cidery in my hometown. I left my job as a lawyer three months ago to do Bivouac full time… I guess it was my unavoidable destiny.

Bivouac Ciderworks is an adventure. Once we dove in, our passion for ciders from around the world fueled our desire to bring our own version of cider to San Diego and put a West Coast-craft spin on it. My partner, Matthew Austin, and I are best friends, co-founders, and co-managing partners. We met years ago and bonded over our love of all things foodie and outdoor adventuring. Matt and I enjoy rock climbing, camping, and finding fine food, drink, and adventure around the world. Matt is our Master Cidermaker and has spent 12 years home-fermenting cider, wine, homebrewing, and experimenting with craft beverages. He also has a degree in architecture and a background in the fly fishing industry. I always think a story about us should start out, “a lawyer and an architect walk into a bar…”

Cider is truly an amazing beverage. It has a long history and culture in America and many other countries around the world. I lived in Australia and England for semesters in high school and college, and they both have huge cider cultures, so that’s where I really started being into ciders. I love the possibilities in cider, the food pairings, its connection to nature. Bivouac strives to take the culture and flavors in cider from around the world and put a southern California spin on it. Our cider is less sweet than the commercial cider that is popular in America today. We feature exciting flavors and experimental twists on classic fermentation techniques. We like to say that our cider is “infused with the spirit and adventure of the West Coast.” Our goal is to produce ciders that will taste equally delicious with a fine meal as they will at the top of a mountain after a long hike.

We opened at the end of January 2018, and things are really taking off. Our flagship tasting room is in North Park, on 30th Street, just off University. There we are focused on providing a place for cider experimentation and education, with awesome food to complement and enhance the cider experience. We are customer-service oriented and like to create an artistic and collaborative environment where friends come together over fantastic food and amazing cider. Our kitchen is focused on producing rustic dishes with fresh, local ingredients and west coast flavor.

We just launched distribution and are quickly getting in bars and restaurants all around the city. We have had amazing support from the community, and people are really getting into cider. It has been crazy hard, but also super fun and rewarding.

People always ask if I will go back to the law. I honestly believe that I will. I am one of the few people who actually loved being a lawyer. But for now, this business is teaching me so many new things, and I am able to draw upon my training, experience, and judgment I gained from being an attorney, and apply it in completely different ways. And you never know what the future holds. My grandpa always said, “it’s not an opportunity unless you’re ready for it.” And I believe that the universe presents opportunities at the right time. So, for now, I am just following the path that the universe presents.

Has it been a smooth road?
This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I guess it’s been as smooth as any business experience could possibly go, but there were struggles at every turn. Some of them unique, most of them common to every business-owner/entrepreneur I’ve ever spoken with. People who have never owned a business have no idea how hard it is.

The beginning stages of a business – having an idea, making plans, putting together your team, that’s the easy part. Once you actually make the commitment to the project, take on money or debt, break ground on construction, that’s when it gets real.

There are, of course, countless additional challenges presented when being a woman, regardless of the industry. But if you are an entrepreneur who has taken the leap and started your own business, you have likely already faced and overcome (or at least been strong enough to get knocked down and get back up) the challenges that are presented to women, and persevered.

The only advice I can give young women is to make sure you have the fortitude to get through it. I was talking to a fellow woman business owner the other day, and she said “I’ve never felt more alone in my life. I have a husband, kids, investors, friends, customers, and I feel completely alone.” And I have to say that in this first year of business, I’ve felt the same. Have a great support network, make sure you tell your friends and family in advance to support you and be understanding. You will miss out on life events. You will be late to things. You won’t be able to hang out on a whim. You will have to schedule out a month. And those that have owned a business will understand, but so many people won’t. And there will be haters, people that do not want you to succeed or will be jealous of your success. Just keep your head down, do your job with integrity, be a good person, and you will survive and rise above. And call me if you need me because the one thing that I try to do is remain supportive of others. We all need each other.

We’d love to hear more about Bivouac Ciderworks.
Bivouac Ciderworks is an outdoor-inspired cider company with a tasting room and full-service restaurant offering West Coasted cuisine in the heart of North Park. We invite people to sip on a refreshing and complex craft beverage that will taste as great paired with a meal as it will at the top of the mountain. Our motto is “embrace your adventure,” and that’s just what we’re doing. Our cider is unique and inventive. We make drier ciders than many people have had before, using superior fruit and interesting ingredients to showcase the possibilities in cider. We are hoping to do to cider what San Diego brewers did to craft beer 10 years ago: take all the rules and flip them on their head. Make fantastic product in a beautiful environment and cultivate a collective of people who are fun and adventurous and like to eat and drink and embrace everything that life has to offer.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
My Mom – she’s a badass businesswoman, I like to think I’m her mini-me. I take after her in so many ways, yet still, strive to be more like her every day.

Many women lawyers and judges that inspired my legal career, most notably the trial lawyers I learned from in Washington, DC.

Women in the San Diego business community that are truly supportive of each other.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Arlene Ibarra

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