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Check Out Beth Harbinson’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Beth Harbinson.

Hi Beth, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
The idea to create Sobar fermented (get it) for a few years and one evening while attending a concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion, it gelled. I was at a beautiful bar and my options as a non-drinker were soda, Red Bull, or creating a “mocktail” in my head and asking a bartender to prepare it. I envisioned:

• Beautiful bars serving non-alcoholic beverages with healthy ingredients, innovative, sophisticated flavors, and exciting tastes.
• A separate point of purchase for events serving alcohol to remove a potential trigger for people in recovery from alcoholism and addiction; and
• Creating exciting alcohol-free events.

Sobar was launched in 2017 after we entered and were one of three winners in the Changemaker Challenge contest sponsored by The Horizon Foundation and United Way.

Since then, Sobar has served at cutting-edge non-profit events in our community and in 2018 began to offer alcohol-free events.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
No, and the road continues to twist and turn. Of course, COVID affected the event industry across the board. One of the changes we saw was that alcohol delivery became available in our state. To counteract this and provide an alternative, we developed a product called Sobar in a Box – our drinks delivered in kits for people to create at home!

Now that events are happening again live and in person, we are continuing to plan – our signature New Year’s Eve Sobar Soiree and a new event we are calling Oktsobarfest that will celebrate the plethora of alcohol-free beverages available.

The big news for us is that we are embarking on a strategic plan to consider where we go in the future.

Now entering our 4th year, we realize it is a prudent time to take a step back and while we will continue to produce bars at the increasing number of social events being held live and in-person to meet our mission and continue to raise money to fund our work, we have identified many areas where we believe our impact can be even greater to:

• Reduce the stigma and shame of substance use disorders (alcoholism and addiction)
• Host exciting opportunities for people to have fun that is alcohol-free
• Build a culture of celebration that is not centered around alcohol,
Develop a model for working with corporations, event venues, and entertainment facilities to incorporate and promote alcohol-free options, and
• Create an alcohol-free space where people who don’t drink or cannot drink gather to have fun.

It is time for us to assess. It is time to envision and plan for our future and consider how our mission, services, and events can yield the results that can change perceptions, save lives, and contribute to reducing relapse and prevent substance use disorders – alcoholism and addiction.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
For the first 20 years of my career, I worked primarily in B2B sales and helped one company grow from a basement office to the Inc 500 Fastest Growing Companies list. I then decided that my skill set could also translate into fundraising and development.

I spent the next 20 years in the non-profit world raising money and consulting primarily in the area of fundraising and board development. I currently serve as the Executive Director of an education non-profit in Baltimore.

I thrive in environments where I can lead collaboratively. When there is a problem to solve, a situation to improve or correct, in Sobar’s case, an opportunity to create programs or prototypes to inspire big change, I am all in. In the world of alcoholism and addiction, the mission is to reduce relapse.

The statistics for relapse related to these diseases are high and I believe that in part it is because drinking and drugging are the norms. If you are at a party and don’t drink, people ask “What’s wrong with you?” I want Sobar to be part of flipping this paradigm.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
TAGLINE: Raising the “bar” for non-alcoholic beverages

MISSION: The mission of Sobar is to encourage choice in how we celebrate by providing a variety of sophisticated non-alcoholic beverages to consumers and offering alcohol-free bars and events.

VISION: We envision an environment where the stigma of not drinking alcohol is eliminated.

VALUES:
• Inclusion – we believe
• Choice – we believe
• Healthy – we believe
• Innovative – believe
• Sophisticated – we believe

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Contact Info:

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