Created in the Corridor: Bleu Vodka
No business can survive by operating in the red. So three local entrepreneurs are encouraged that their brand new product is already in the black. It’s a promising start for Bleu, Created in the Corridor.
Dozens of local business women recently gathered in Cedar Rapids to beat the winter blues. But they ended up enjoying some Bleu. “What are you drinking?” I asked Lori Aller who was holding an iced beverage in the middle of the room. “Bleu Vodka,” she responded with a smile. “And what do you think?” “It’s very good. It’s all natural, fruity…it’s very good.” “It’s smooth,” concurred Beckey Woodward Cole at a separate table. “It’s refreshing. The label says it’s 100% delicious and it’s 100% delicious!”
Bleu Vodka ripened into a promising brand just a couple years after Alizabeth and Britt Jetter met another entrepreneur with a secret family recipe for infused liqueurs. “My family has been making infused liqueurs for generations and all the kids know how to do it,” said Dr. Tony VandenBush of Iowa City. “Whenever I’d bring it to parties people would say, ‘when are you going to bottle this?”
The answer came when VandenBush brought a sample to a downtown bar for the Jetters to taste. “We asked the bar if they had some disposable cups and they gave us a couple of Styrofoam cups,” recalled the serial entrepreneur. “So we walked around back down by the river under the bridge-or next to the bridge-and we had a paper bag with some of the product and we were pouring it in Styrofoam cups down by the river to try the product,” he said laughing.
“He talked about vodka and I was like, you know what? I think that will work,” said Britt Jetter. “You know with my background in supply chain with Coca-Cola; I was there for twelve years…and also I have a customer service background. So I thought that was the perfect fit to move forward.”
After maneuvering through the complicated licensing maze, the trio began handcrafting small batches in Cedar Rapids using locally distilled vodka, along with wild blueberries for their Bleu Original and orange zest for their citrus offering, PEL. No artificial flavorings or color. “A true infusion of liquor is about fruit, real fruit, and the flavor and the color being extracted from it via a steeping process,” explained Alizabeth Jetter. “Honestly, before this, I wasn’t a drinker. But after this…I have to do product tasting,” she said tongue in cheek.
Bleu hit the market a year ago January and it’s already proving fruitful at grocery stores and bars. “Last October we made our first profit,” Britt Jetter said proudly. “We’re in over 75 locations here in Iowa and also branching out into Chicago.”
Meanwhile, back at the party, “I’m enjoying it,” said Heidi Beals of her drink containing Bleu PEL. I’m not a huge liqueur drinker but I really like it a lot.”
VandenBush is genuinely pleased. “The feedback’s been wonderful. We’re proud, my family’s proud that it’s kinda going out there and people are liking it.”
The company is now seeking investors with hopes of expanding globally. We have a link to more information about Bleu Vodka HERE.