Leadership Series: Tremaine Atkinson's Journey from Home Brewer to CH Distillery Founder

“I actually started a brewery when I was about 27 with two buddies and five thousand bucks and it didn’t last very long because we ran out of money,” says Tremaine Atkinson lightheartedly. “But that planted the seed many years ago for what would become CH.”

CH Distillery is Chicago’s first dedicated vodka distillery. It opened August of 2013 after Atkinson left his finance career to pursue his passion for turning raw ingredients into delicious spirits.

“I realized that if I was going to do something in alcohol I would need to raise enough capital to be able to do it successfully. So, I spent years in another career raising that capital…,” explained Atkinson, Founder of CH Distillery.

Not only was he able to raise enough capital but he also learned important skills along the way that prepared him to lead a successful business—like building strong relationships and financial analysis.

“Learning technical skills like financial analysis, actually, translates really well to very technical recipe building we do in our distillery,” says Atkinson.

Under Atkinson’s leadership, CH produces Chicago’s only vodka made from Illinois grain and has expanded its lineup to include more than 20 spirits, including London Dry Gin, Amaro, and Coffee Liqueur among other interesting flavored spirits.

Watch the episode above to learn the three pieces of advice Tremaine Atkinson would give someone who is trying to break into the industry along with leadership lessons he’s learned along the way!