We love our ALTR Army. Why? Because in addition to crushing your workout goals, you're also crushing your personal goals. And for so many of you, that means your own business.
We're beyond stoked to kick off a blog series focused solely on our badass entrepreneurs and the businesses they cultivate on the side. First up? Our most famous ALTR Army Entrepreneur, Mike Schwandt.
You've likely seen Mike crushing ALTR workouts, jamming along to each headbanger and enthusiastically high-fiving fellow ALTR Army members nonstop. He's always wildly positive, remember's everyone's name and genuinely loves life. We dig Mike. His favorite sessions are the 5:30 and 6:30 pm, and 9 or 10 am on the weekends if time permits. Mike's a busy guy (more about that soon), so we're happy to take him any time we can get him.
Mike was born and raised within walking distance of Minneapolis in Golden Valley. While his parents are both from Wisconsin (where his love of the Green Bay Packers and beer come from), he's never ventured all that far from the Cities because "this state is just too darn fantastic" (he does admit our winters are character building, aka BRUTAL). That, and his three brothers.
Mike is one of three Schwandt boys. Their names? Matt, Mike and Mark (yeah, we're not sure how his parents kept their names straight as kids, either). It's likely you've seen them before in this video for Bauhaus Brew Labs, or this video for Viva Knievel (that's right, they're all in the band). Yep, the Schwandt brothers have quite the reputation (in the best way possible).
In addition to be a co-owner and Creative Visionary of Bauhaus Brew Labs and frontman of Viva Knievel, Mike is a Group Media Director at Fallon, a devoted husband and dad to two young kiddos. He's also one hell of a storyteller (and there's no one better to tell you the tale of Bauhaus Brew Labs than Mike):
"My brothers and I have always had the creative itch, where we felt the need to make stuff our entire lives. This usually played out through the creation of original music and art, while growing into food and eventually beer. My oldest brother Matt got fixated on making beer during his time living in Nashville, where he worked at a microbrewery as his band was starting to get traction. Like many original musicians, myself included, they realized that making a living at music alone was going to be a difficult life, so he came back to MN and went to law school, because apparently that was next on the list?
Through law school and his first few jobs lawyering, he never lost his focus on making great beer, and we never got tired of drinking it. We'd often come up with reasons to drop by just to drink his latest creations, which is where our annual Oktoberfest party (Schwandtoberfest, after the family name) began. Once he realized how much he despised being a lawyer, paired with years of my family telling him his beer should be on shelves everywhere, he approached us with a proposition.
For people that have always loved being creative, making things the way they wanted to, we finally had a real opportunity to make something for ourselves: a brewery. Matt had the brewing skills, and with all his law background, he had contract, licensing, and overall paperwork knowledge and know-how, my wife and I had two decades of advertising and marketing between us, my younger brother had sales experience and personal connections all over the city and state, and Matt's wife Lydia had the organizational skills to bring it all together and run the damn thing.
With breweries just starting to pop up in 2012/2013, we knew we needed to carve out a unique and interesting space in the beer world that we could own. Simply put, drinking beer is fun, and craft beer shouldn't always feel like an exclusive club, which was some of the sentiment 5-6 years ago. With a focus on German and European-style approachable lager beers, we embraced the name Bauhaus because it stood for everything we wanted to represent. Bauhaus was an early 20th century art, architecture and design school that was led by the philosophy that art shouldn't just be hung on walls or for the rich; instead, art and smart design should be in everything and available to the masses, from tables, chairs, dressers or desks to pretty much anything practical out in the world. We wanted our beer to be seen the same way, approachable to all with an emphasis on design. Plus, one of the great Bauhaus teachers, Johannes Itten, once wrote about the approach one should have to their life's purpose, "Play becomes celebration; celebration becomes work; work becomes play." It's a cycle that should never end, which sums up exactly how and why we got into this business.
Our vision for Bauhaus is to maintain our identity as an inclusive, playful brand the embodies our core value: Gemutlichkeit. This is German word that doesn't have a direct translation but basically describes the feeling of cosiness and kinship one feels when surrounded by good friends or family, usually over a good beer. We might be a bit weird, colorful, and irreverent, but always welcoming and never off-putting. We want to bring new craft drinkers into the fold, and every new beer we make will continue elevating that idea. As a business, we have a goal of doubling our current size and becoming one of the staple regional breweries in the Midwest while maintaining that size for the forseeable future. As the craft beer market continues to get exponentially more crowded, we never want to lose sight of what our brand is and what it stands for."