A Namas-day In The Life: Jason Monkarsh (Co-Founder of OM Cocktails)
Each month, we’ll be featuring a “Namas-day in the Life” of OM supporters+participants in our million tree mission. To kick off our series, we started with Om Co-Founder Jason Monkarsh.
What’s a typical day in your life like?
I wake up at about 6:30, give my daughter a bottle and eat breakfast while I play with her. When our son wakes up, he and my wife come down, we get him fed, dressed, and off to pre-schoool. I then start the work part of my day, which usually includes calling potential and existing accounts, setting up pitch meetings, and checking in on our social media channels. I’ll periodically check in with the marketing team to discuss upcoming events & plan in-store demos we have over the coming weeks, and will go to any sales meetings that I have with our distributor. I try to take a break mid-day to work out or do a yoga class, but this doesn’t always happen, especially when I’m traveling.
When it does happen, I find the middle of the day is a great time for a yoga class, as it allows me to re-set, and I then finish up any phone calls, paperwork, or emails with a clear head.
How do you enjoy your Om Organic Cocktails?
On the rocks, or shaken in a cocktail shaker and strained into a martini glass.
Om has a partnership with Trees for The Future and plants one tree in Haiti for every bottle sold. Are you involved with any other philanthropies or causes?
Yes! I’ve always been a huge animal rights advocate.
Even when I was a kid, I remember not wanting to eat red meat because I felt bad for the cows. My wife Lauren was volunteering for Much Love Animal Rescue a few years back, and we rescued a pointer named Bob who became a huge part of my life. Bob’s no longer with us, but after he passed away I started volunteering for them, and ended up rescuing our current dog Maverick.
I donate to every animal rights cause that pops up on my Facebook feed, from dolphins, to tigers, dogs, bears, etc. I like to donate to the local groups, but also ones in other countries that are often overlooked. I traveled around the world on Semester at Sea when I was in college and was really impacted by my visit to India, so I make donations to a group called In Defense of Animals that does small things like install concrete water bowls around cities in India so strays can have access water. Stopping the killing of dolphins in Japan is a cause I’ve become passionate about lately, and learned about through Hayden Pannettiere, from Heroes and Nashville, who gave OM some love on Twitter when we first launched, so we thanked her by making a donation to her favorite dolphin related charity. I can’t really turn away from animals who are mistreated or in need. Someone once told me that animals need us to be their voice because they don’t have one, and I think this is so true.
What inspired you to start Om?
I was out with my wife and some friends and noticed everyone enjoying very intricately designed cocktails made with fresh, and sometimes organic ingredients… this was really at the beginning of mixology starting to become mainstream in Los Angeles. My wife usually doesn’t love cocktails she orders, but she liked these, and so I thought I’ll try to duplicate some of these drinks the next time we have friends over. Well, I discovered that I’m not a good mixologist, and the drinks were a huge disaster. That’s when the idea struck, “what if I could make a mixology inspired cocktail as easy as enjoying a glass of wine?”. I started asking around about mixologists and met Kim Hassaraud, a very well known mixologist, who put me in touch with Natalie Bovis, another very well known mixologist and cocktail book author, and Natalie and I hit it off immediately. The rest is history.
What’s your favorite part about having a socially conscious company?
Making something that I am proud of. As a consumer, it’s important for me to know that the products I buy are produced in a way that are as friendly as possible. Friendly to the earth, friendly to animals, and friendly to our bodies. I always buy the organic option. I always buy the product that donates over the one that doesn’t. I always check labels to see if they are produced in a cruelty free manner that don’t test on animals and I always look for the eco-friendly packaged option. For me, I couldn’t come out with a product that didn’t also take every possible step to ensure that we are doing these things as well. We went to great lengths to research what was truly eco-friendly and what was green washing that other companies do. For instance, we didn’t do a frosted bottle like many spirits companies do, even some very well known organic brands, as doing this is one of the most toxic processes out there. Nobody can be perfect though, and as long as you’re trying to improve some of the parts of your packaging or giving back in some way, it’s better than nothing. We’re constantly trying to lessen our impact on the environment and are currently experimenting with corn plastic tamper evident bands. We’ll keep you posted!
Favorite LA hot spots?
It’s ironic because I own a liquor company, but now that I’m a father I rarely get out to hot spots. I have business partners who are still very actively involved in the LA nightlife scene so maybe that’s a better question for them! When I do get out, I enjoy dinner at the Bazaar or a quiet night enjoying an OM cocktail on the rooftop at the Peninsula.
What’s your hidden talent?
I have a degree in Theatre, not typical in the business world, but it comes in more handy than I would’ve thought, especially for presentations and thinking on the spot.
That’s a tough question, I have a lot of favorite quotes. One that I really like though that is apropos given my answer to the above question:
‘Tis not enough to help the feeble up, but to support them after.’